Sarah Cook – Information


The MIT Press / Whitechapel, ISBN-13: 978-0262529341, English, 240 pages, 2016, UK
What is the main difference between a curator and an editor? Apparently it’s mostly attached to the mediums they use (the white box vs. the white page), and, as such, related to the organisation of knowledge in these respective spaces. Sarah Cook is not only a curator, she has also extensively researched and practiced curatorship in a digital dimension. In this book she applies “curatorship attitudes” to the editing process in the selection and organisation of an anthology of texts. The five sections are organised around the lifecycle of information and are meant to be “a survey of art beyond information theory”. Included are texts from or about artists and/or artistic forms, including pioneering practices from the 1960s through to the present. They are drawn from an eclectic mix of formats ranging from press releases to interviews, including curators’ and artists’ statements. It’s a very rich and consistent selection, where concepts like signals and signifiers, together with quantity and quality of information, are approached through specific lenses, making for a more compelling engagement than is usually found in theory volumes. All these focuses, while well linked together, are also expanded in the book’s introduction, with quotes and works not necessarily included in the texts. This is perfectly legitimate, as Cook affirms that “information is not the thing, but rather the process of its manifestation”.