Each work within the series entitled “From the Library of…” is a depiction of an imaginary library housing a multitude of containers or repositories for knowledge, represented by hand-blown mirrored...
Each work within the series entitled “From the Library of…” is a depiction of an imaginary library housing a multitude of containers or repositories for knowledge, represented by hand-blown mirrored objects. These archives propose to contain knowledge within unique, material objects “as mysterious as the knowledge itself,” suggesting that knowledge is “potentially beyond words or books.” Viewers look within each frame to a vista of endlessly-refracted hexagonal architecture, implying that each library is in itself vast and just one of many possible libraries.
This work depicts an imaginary library of cosmic rays, proposing there is infinite knowledge to be found in these transmissions. The work is composed of five hand-blown cylindrical glass elements—scientific, industrial-looking shapes, each topped by an elliptical lens focused at an angle. In the center of each magnifying-glass tube is a mirrored chamber intended to collect the cosmic rays focused towards it by the lens at its top.
McElheny explains, “these strange machines or instruments— mysterious ‘collectors’ of information—are receiving the beams from as far away as possible and radiating them back toward the viewer. Cosmic rays pass through the planet all the time—my understanding is that [composer and poet] Sun Ra would say the cosmic information that’s coming to us potentially even includes a political, emancipatory kind of information.”