Apr

8

Not So Flashy

Written by

Earlier today, correspondent Carolyn Ruvkun attended a Flash Mob, run by three students from the “arts incubators cluster” of the School of the Arts. Instructed to bring a book and download the “Listen to Low” podcast, this bwogger gathered in front of Butler with about fifty other people. Flash Mob participants then marched inside Low Library, sat at some tables underneath the dome and read rebelliously. For the “low down” on the project, check out the website.

During those ten minutes, we apparently “reclaimed Low as a library.” One leader of the project clarifies, “We wanted to reawaken the space as a library. It came out of an interest in the history of Low—something a lot of Columbia students don’t know about.”

2010 marks the 75th anniversary of Low no longer functioning as a library. According to the curious Columbia myth, Low Library was sinking from the overwhelming weight of books.  As a result, they were moved to Butler using enormous slides. You can find photos of the dramatic transfer in Butler Library.

The whole project was more of a sound installation than the rowdy Improv Everywhere performance you usually expect from a flash mob. While at first listen the podcast just seems like white noise, the recording includes sounds of loudly turned pages, actual libraries, and the fabled 1960s protests.

Another artist explains, “We were interested in how books sound like water and fire, and the idea of a building being submerged by books. What does that mean about erasure and destruction?”  Frankly, I have no clue. But, for what it’s worth, when the podcast ended, I was more aware of the sounds around me—the echoing footsteps, the rippling book pages and a couple’s impromptu round of “Happy Birthday,” which the leaders insist wasn’t planned.

More photos after the jump.

Photos by CAR

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12 Comments

  1. Hahahaha

    “We were interested in how books sound like water and fire, and the idea of a building being submerged by books. What does that mean about erasure and destruction?"

    Man Columbia students are so pretentious it hurts.

  2. Anonymous  

    I don't get why we propagate that damn myth.

  3. I  

    was so lost. Improv Everywhere needs to come up here and shake things up. This was just lame.

  4. gay dude

    Flash mob idea. Get a bunch of people to do the Single Ladies dance on the steps, or at least a simplified version! Or any choreographed dance for that matter!

  5. um

    I think most people know Low was once a library.

    It's called LOW LIBRARY.

  6. Anonymous  

    something most tour guides tell as a fun fact on EVERY god damn tour. Also the Low LIBRARY name is kind of revealing.

  7. bwog and carolyn

    you can make any event seem interesting. funny title. good quotes. i love reading your stories. hey carolyn, when are you going to write another room hop. becuase of you i went and bought truffles

  8. bwog and carolyn

    you can make any event seem interesting. funny title. good quotes. i love reading your stories. hey carolyn, when are you going to write another room hop. because of you i went and bought truffles

  9. Anonymous

    Great work by Carolyn-amusing, entertaining, informative, and generally great

  10. Actually...  

    ...it's 75 years since Low was no longer *primarily* a library. But it continued to house the University Archives and Columbiana collections until about 4 or 5 years ago.

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