A Certain Encyclopedia (2015)

image_ Thomas De Ridder

1) belonging to the Emperor
2) that from a distance look like churches
3) empty
4) abandoned
5) used for parties
6) taking place in the future
7) imaginary
8) fantastic
9) making one feel home
10) from scy-fy film sets
11) confined
12) extremely dangerous
13) immediately dangerous to your life and health upon entry
14) that have little chance of causing you harm upon entry
15) precarious
16) outer
17) usually broken down
18) potentially comfortable
19) comfortable
20) most hazardous
21) requiring some qualified person to complete a safety checklist before entry
22) requiring specific investigation
23) requiring a pass word
24) requiring the creation of an identity
25) presupposing interaction
26) permit confined
27) non-permit
28) measured with tools of precision
29) virtual
30) target
31) inner
32) normed-vector
33) topological
34) zero-width
35) no-break
36) comprehended
37) real
38) that asks for a lot of attention
39) that generate structural doubts
40) included in the present classification
41) organized visually
42) perceived as private
43) serving as background
44) distinct
45) that grow in size relative to their field
46) friendly to elements within and around
47) that form inseparable realities
48) captured
49) enclosed
50) molded
51) organized by solid elements of mass
52) temporal
53) mental
54) symbolic
55) that have an urban scale
56) appearing to have been conceived as sculptural entities within the landscape
57) flourishing
58) found in Ancient Greece
59) dating from around 600 BC
60) monumental
61) working
62) waiting
63) where both the coldness of winter and the heat of summer are felt pleasantly
64) ventilated by sea breezes
65) etc.
66) forcing you to go to the right
67) suggesting encounters
68) where one would feel most likely claustrophobic
69) genuinely believed as real
70) having only windows
71) hollow
72) where a murderer has been
73) where data is stored
74) having no means of being defined
75) earthly
76) provoking an incredible loneliness
77) where a famous writer committed suicide
78) where one stands before leaving
79) where dreams have come true
80) packed
81) having the atemporality of ruins
82) on the map
83) detailed and realistic
84) interplanetary
85) once visited never forgotten
86) the deepest and darkest of them all
87) only reached after a deadly journey
88) which separate the world of the living and the world of the dead
89) of disgusting filth, where people are served spoiled food and are continuously tortured for their deeds
90) containing mystical elements like iron walls
91) in which one enters through a great big wooden door
92) having no means of being described
93) having a brilliant light
94) beyond any possible comparison
95) immersive
96) where time seems to stop
97) triggering sensory information
98) differing significantly from reality
99) life changing
100) offering limitations
101) offering a perpetual allusion to 360-degree art
102) where characters, objects, and images take on the phantasmagoric force of alchemy's visionary internal dramas
103) generating the fear of having no escape
104) representing a previous era in human society
105) that could be compared to the void that exists between celestial bodies / or observations provide evidence that 90% of the mass is in an unknown form, called dark matter 
106) non-existing
107) the global sum of all ecosystems
108) having living organisms (plants, animals and microbes) in conjunction with the non-living components of their environment (things like air, water and mineral soil) interacting as a system 
109) often overshadowed by awful circumstances
110) featuring a modern expressionist design, with a series of large precast concrete shells, each composed of sections of a sphere of 75.2 meters radius forming the roofs of the structure set on a monumental podium
111) fitting on a page
112) used as setting for a Russian novel
113) existing inside a game called Final Fantasy 7
114) filled with memories; as in suffocating, almost unbearable
115) destroyed
116) occupied
117) where the act of inflicting excruciating pain, as punishment or revenge — as a means of getting a confession or information, or for sheer cruelty — has many times occurred
118) neglected throughout the 1980s and ’90s
119) nestled elegantly
120) surrounded by a sea of established brands, independents, vintage and gift shops — where retail therapy gets serious
121) that can be seen through the peephole
122) resembling a vast comic arena
123) filled with yet-to-come surprises
124) where silence is possible
125) inhabited by a particular species of invertebrates
126) that could be see from the top of a canyon
127) composed by structures that were once complete, and as time went by, have fallen into a state of partial or complete disrepair, due to lack of maintenance or deliberate acts of destruction
128) Found in ancient sites in China, Egypt and the Peloponnese Islands but not in Japan
129) of worship
130) lost during a volcanic eruption 
131) built of steel
132) hostile
133) best-know as center of athletic, artistic, spiritual and political life of cities that no longer exist
134) mirrored
135) expressing symmetry with majesty
136) of outstanding value to the blind
137) displaying interesting combinations of shape, color and symmetrical properties
138) created by stairs making four 90-degree turns as they ascend or descend, forming a continuous loop, so that a person could climb them forever and never get any higher
139)of confinement, where one could experience true solitude 
140) domestic
141) false
142) infinite
143) found in children's books written by the Grimm Brothers
144) of impressively beautiful proportion, occupied by gigantic trees whose branches seem to hold up the sky, where an insomniac would fail to grasp its magnitude
145) where occasionally something crashes down, sounding awfully loud
146) where a blue light caused by decaying vegetation would quickly shine and disappear
147) which Fyodor Dostoyevsky described as 'made of crystal and eternally inviolable'
148) with no addition or contribution from anything else;
149) regarded with loathing
150) representing the Earth's surface as though seen by an extra-terrestrial eye
151) associated with fascination and horror
152) where contradictory things may happen
153) specifically designated for the remains of dead people
154) made up out of books
155) where transcendental souls are found in their purest forms
156) murky
157) where one may embark on dissipations
158) where one can plunge into subterranean nastiness
159) where those training to improve the human mental dexterity finally find recognition and can rejoice
160) where two people engage in a contest of strength, speed, reflexes, endurance and will, by throwing punches at each other
161) safe for homosexual couples to dance in peace and away from public scrutiny
162) where difference is felt between people having different skin colors, becoming uncomfortable for those with darker tonalities of skin
163) running along a rail track
164) efficiently moving people between levels
165) equipped to give someone a facial reconstruction
166) where a broken clock hangs on the wall marking 2:20
167) with 64 squares arranged in an eight-by-eight grid
168) where one repeatedly stabs a melon to create a suspense sound-track
169) vacant
170) that can host events including greased pole climbing, rock trowing and mud fighting
171) where a person is having the hiccups and another is trying to read
172) which G. Perèc described as 'beginning with words'
173) displaying an incredible amount of books which seem to be frowning at you from the shelves
174) which J. L. Borges described as 'the corrupter and destroyer of all others'
175) with princesses and dragons and danger around every corner
176) where a macabre ritual is taking place
177) providing peace of mind for those willing to experience physical meditation
178) having at least four elements: (1) a setting, (2) some characters, (3) complications and (4) a conclusion
179) basically trying to make people's lives as screwed up and insane as possible
180) housing situations at the intersection of greed, fear, and lust
181) allowing four points of entry and three of departure
182) which Dante described as 'a city of weeping'
183) resembling a fictitious prison
184) in war
185) having little emptiness, where people all crammed together
186) completely rusted, looking like an abandoned  amusement park
187) experiencing a kind of amusement park boom
188) a copy of the original 
189) supplying electricity to 6 million people
190) having a distinctive flying saucer like shape and airplane hatch entrance
191) producing a mimicry of itself
192) translating mythological subjects into rectangular fields of color and light

image_ Thierry Mortier


Michel Foucault opens his book The Order of Things with a paragraph, in which he describes a passage from "a certain Chinese encyclopedia'', written by the Argentinian writer Jorge Luis Borges. The passage is about taxonomy, an inventory of possessions belonging to an emperor or king. The things are themselves fantastical, but are made all the more fantastical by the ways they are grouped. The collection is divided according to rules, but not consistent rules. Foucault claims that the fantastic taxonomy breaks up all the ordered surfaces of our thoughts. By "our'' thoughts, he means Western thought in the modern era.

In “A Certain Encyclopedia”, I deliberately use Borges' taxonomy as parameter for an exercise on an impossible classification of space. In the context of the Group Exhibition "Production of Space"/ NUCLEO, I have made a list of 192 spaces — one for each of the drawers of the Archive Room.