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The Encyclopedic Palace: vision of a networked world?

November 5, 2013

On a recent trip to Venice I visited the 55th Biennial Arts Festival (“La Biennale”) in search of a bit of culture and as a break from work, university and the rain. I’d been doing quite a bit of reading about the future of learning, open education and shared knowledge, which is why I wanted to write this brief post. The theme of the exhibition was uncannily similar to the paradigm of a newtorked world, where all knowledge is shared and available…

From La Biennale website:

This year’s festival is entitled “Il Palazzo Enciclopedico” and draws inspiration from the model of a utopian dream by Marino Auriti who filed a design with the U.S. Patent office in 1955, depicting his Palazzo Enciclopedico, an imaginary museum that was meant to house all worldly knowledge. Auriti planned the model of a 136-story building to be built in Washington, that would stand 700 meters tall and take up over 16 blocks.


“Auriti’s plan was never carried out, of course”, festival curator Massimiliano Gioni says, “but the dream of universal, all-embracing knowledge crops up throughout the history of art and humanity, as one that eccentrics like Auriti share with many other artists, writers, scientists, and self-proclaimed prophets who have tried—often in vain—to fashion an image of the world that will capture its infinite variety and richness. Today, as we grapple with a constant flood of information, such attempts to structure knowledge into all-inclusive systems seem even more necessary and even more desperate.”
“Blurring the line between professional artists and amateurs, outsiders and insiders, the exhibition takes an anthropological approach to the study of images, focusing in particular on the realms of the imaginary and the functions of the imagination. What room is left for internal images—for dreams, hallucinations and visions—in an era besieged by external ones? And what is the point of creating an image of the world when the world itself has become increasingly like an image?” (La Biennale, 2013).
Marino with his models of The Palace (from
I can’t help but think that Marino just might have been onto something….
You can read more about Marino here in a blog by his grand-daughter.
La Biennale. 2013. 55th International Art Exhibition – The Encyclopedic Palace. Retrieved, 5th November 2013 from
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