i.8. The Art & Manner of Arranging
Issue No. 4
The Art & Manner of Arranging One’s Everything
The Art & Manner of Arranging One’s Everything is inspired by Georges Perec’s piece by a similar name, in which the author considers the problem of order and classification. Using a personal book collection as the basis for his thought experiment, he suggests that any library (or bookshelf) must serve two functions: to conserve certain objects, and to organize them in a certain way. Perec explores various organizational approaches from the obvious (by alphabetical order) to the absurd (an algebraic equation whose solution equals 361). In the process, Perec touches upon questions concerning materiality, physics, aesthetics, and the problem of knowledge.
Perec’s obsession with a perfectly organized bookshelf provides a metaphor for the universal (and borderline pathological) urge to make sense of the world through systems of order and classification. He warns, however, that any effort towards total order and universal understanding will invariably and forever be counterbalanced by chaos and uncertainty.
Fascinated by this paradox, I wondered how others might approach the taxonomic problem. Is the urge to categorize a universal tendency? How useful (or problematic) are these constructs for making sense of the world? Curious for answers, I invited contributors from various fields to propose taxonomic systems on topics ranging from postmodern philosophers to sandwiches. Each author approached the challenge as an expert or enthusiast on their subject.
Submissions were collected and organized in Google Sheets, which ultimately served as the primary design tool for the publication. The printed artifact embraces the the form resulting from the technical limitations of spreadsheet software, and embodies the aesthetic of the bureaucratic document.
With a two-pronged fastener as a binding mechanism, this piece includes 37 pages of taxonomic systems, a introductory text, a page containing a list of authors, as well as 66 dividers that invite the reader to classify the contents of the publication themselves. Using these pre-labeled divider sheets, readers are given the option to classify the various taxonomies in a number ways: by alphabetical order by author’s first or last name, by sense (i.e. touch, smell, taste, sight, smell and thought), or by other more subjective criteria such as “interesting to not interesting,” or “punk vs. not punk.”
The final product is a compendium of taxonomic systems that asks readers to participate in the act of classification themselves through the reorganization of the issue’s contents. This first volume was riso-printed on multiple paper stocks and comes in two palettes: green with pink, and pistachio with grey. Future volumes of The Art and Manner of Arranging One’s Everything are imagined on different color stocks so the eventual result of the combined taxonomies will produce an unruly, multi-colored mess of systems of organization.
Read the issue on Google Sheets here.
—Edition of 5 copies
—Print Format: 10.75” x 15.75”
—Binding: prong fastener
—Printing: Risograph on multiple stocks
—Digital Format: Google Sheets