John Latham. Encyclopaedia Britannica. 1971

John Latham Encyclopaedia Britannica 1971

  • Not on view

Encompassing sculpture, performance, film, and assemblage, Latham's fifty–year career focused on notions of time and event, systems of knowledge, and processes of language. In the early 1960s, books emerged as a primary motif in his work. Burning, cutting, stacking, painting, and plastering them into relief paintings and sculptures, he emphasized their material substance and visual structure.

For the performance Skoob Tower Ceremony: National Encyclopedias (1966), Latham stacked volumes of the Encyclopedia Britannica, then burned them, allowing viewers to observe the destruction of knowledge gathered over centuries. In this 1971 film, using one frame of film for each page of the thirtytwo-volume set, Latham transforms what is often considered the embodiment of human knowledge into an accelerating stream of images.

Gallery label from Book/Shelf, March 26–July 7, 2008.
16mm film (black and white, silent)
6:33 min.
Anna Marie and Robert F. Shapiro Fund and Committee on Media Funds
Object number
© 2022 John Latham
Media and Performance

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