‘Metadata’ was an exhibition organised by the International Research Group ‘Bilderfahrzeuge: Aby Warburg’s Legacy and the Future of Iconology’ in collaboration with Central Saint Martins. It looked at how our view of the world is mediated by information about information – metadata – through work as varied as Nora Al-Badri and Nikolai Nelles’ intervention the Nefertiti Hack Project and the exploration of medieval decorative schemes by the Arts and Crafts Movement.
Our exhibition scheme reflected the intellectual processes of Warburg, a German art historian who founded the private Library for Cultural Studies (the Kulturwissenschaftliche Bibliothek Warburg) that was to become the Warburg Institute in London. In 1927, he started his final project, ‘Mnemosyne’ – a vast pictorial encyclopedia, consisting of 40 wooden panels covered in dark cloth, where more than 1,000 pictures taken from books, magazines and newspapers were arranged, without captions and with little supporting text, following Warburg’s own intuitive logic.
We used a new material produced using end-of-life textiles, Solid Textile Board. These boards were suspended and laid on the floor, like Warburg’s original boards, to create a series of backdrops and plinths. A sketchbook that we found in Japan became a ready-made template for the small exhibition catalogue, which contained all the necessary interpretative texts, as well as details of the programme of talks and lectures. The catalogue is set in KW Museum – a typeface we created based on the hand-stencil archive labels found in the Museum für Naturkunde in Berlin. As part of exhibition marketing, we also developed a series of modular animations, shown in the exhibition, that could also be shared through social media.