For his next trick, Kenneth Goldsmith wants us to the print out the internet.
All of it.
The New York Museum of Modern Art’s in-house poet laureate is urging us to send it to Mexico, where he has secured 500 square metres of storage space.
The project, a tribute to the online activist Aaron Swartz, who committed suicide after being arrested for alleged hacking crimes, is an attempt to “materialise and actualise” the internet.
And no fancy “creative interpretations” – just printouts. “We’re literally looking for folks to print out the entire internet.”
At TechHive, the appositely named Mark Hachman has taken Goldsmith quite literally.
Conservative estimates suggest the world wide web comprises 4.73 billion pages. If each could be squeezed on to a single sheet of paper (it can’t, but, you know), that would create a pile “about 55.7 times the height of Mt Everest”.
And Goldsmith says emails count, too. In 2012 an estimated 144 billion were sent– “that’s 52,560,000,000,000 emails per year”. Or, roughly, “14 separate stacks of paper from the Earth to the Moon”.
So it wouldn’t fit in the warehouses. And posting it to Mexico? From the US alone, “the total cost would be $3.126 trillion”. Hachman’s advice: “Don’t bother … It’s impossible.” Which, of course, is kind of Goldsmith’s point.