there is nothing wrong in this whole wide world

This is so fantastic, I can't help but share it with you.

Not long ago, we posted about arranging books by colour, and one reader, Libby, was kind enough to mention a similar phenom - on a much larger scale.

From November 13, 2004 to January 15, 2005, Adobe Books in San Francisco was turned into a really colourful place. Artist Chris Cobb, along with a host of volunteers, reorganized all the books in the bookstore by colour. That's no small feat: they estimate that's about 20,000 books. The temporary art installation was called "There is Nothing Wrong in This Whole Wide World". Damn right.

McSweeney's interviewed Chris Cobb about his crazy scheme. Here's my favourite part from the interview:

Q: Because it's a piece of public art and because you're just rearranging books, there isn't a thing you're producing that can be sold, you know? You're doing this incredibly complex, time-consuming thing and it's only going to exist just to look nice.

A: Well, there are elements of the sublime and elements of beauty involved here that do more than "look nice." The fact that it's something you wouldn't see anywhere has the potential to make it a transgressive experience for some people. People who can appreciate imaginary things or imaginary places, and the power that those places have. Also, there's a lot about ceremony, I think, and ritual. Ritualistic acts. In some Native American cultures, if you make something, you have to then sleep with it next to you overnight, so that the object is transformed through your dreaming. Then it has this special power that it wouldn't normally have, and this is kind of like that same place, maybe.

You can see photos of the splendour in this flickr set and in the Rainbow of Books flickr pool. Gorgeous.

Chris Cobb's has done some other projects that sound fantastic, like carving copies of Greek sculptures out of glue sticks, and playing around with the colour red:

A: OK. So, with another recent project, I was thinking about what chaos I could create just by using the color red. I looked around town and I realized that there are red curbs all over the city. I wondered, what would happen if I extended the red curbs and made them go down a whole block or a whole street? Where normally you could park, but instead I covered it all in red? Then you couldn't park. It symbolically extended the authority of the police, quietly. One night, I went out and covered up the curb, down one whole block, so it was all red. I took a photograph first, when the cars were parked there, and the morning after putting the red on the curb, I took another photo showing that the cars weren't parking there anymore. Just that little bit of red changed the whole order of the block.

It's amazing what a little colour (or change of colour) can do.

(Thanks, Libby!)

Glenn Weiss –   – (March 06, 2007)  

Thanks for keeping the Cobb project alive in the universe.

kayte –   – (March 07, 2007)  

oh my god! that's just amazing. if you don't mind, i'm going to post those pictures on my blog, with a link back to you guys of course.

Strider  – (March 07, 2007)  

Interesting idea. I keep my books in autobiographical order.

purgui  – (March 10, 2007)  

I don't have even 200 books, and unfortunately not so nice colours,... envy

Anonymous –   – (March 21, 2007)  

Normally I would approve of your artistic expression but what you did is totally illegal and probably caused a headache for dozens of people in the neighborhood and at Parking and Traffic for days of weeks.
Red curbs are all around the city to help make sure emergency vehicles have access to certain areas and fire hydrants, to make sure people have access to driveways, to make sure that intersections are available for use, etc. Your abuse of this system for your own artistic amusement at the detriment of your community members and the dollars of the taxpayers (because the city had to come out and undo what you did) is unacceptable. You should be ashamed of yourself.

Siobhan  – (March 21, 2007)  

Hi Anonymous - to respond to your comment above, the red curbs (and the bookshelf rearrangement) were not done by me - as I explained in the post, they were art projects by Chris Cobb. I'm sure he can much better address your concerns than I can, as I imagine others have felt the same way you have, and he has probably taken such opposing views into account, either before or after he completed the project.

Thanks for sharing your point of view - different perspectives are always appreciated. However, I feel that inflammatory comments, such as "you should be ashamed of yourself", are not a respectful way to express your concerns in this forum - particularly as you're not even addressing the person who was responsible for the action to which you're objecting.

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