The Crypt of Civilization

The Crypt of Civilization is an airtight chamber at Oglethorpe University in Atlanta containing books, records, consumer goods and other artifacts. It is scheduled to be opened in the year 8113 C.E..

On May 25, 1940, Jacobs and Peters sealed the crypt in a solemn ceremony that was broadcast by Atlanta’s WSB radio. Some notables present at the ceremony were Dr. Amos Ettinger, Dr. M. D. Collins, Mayor William B. Hartsfield, Ivan Allen, Clark Howell, Governor Eurith D. Rivers, and Postmaster General James A. Farley. They welded the door shut and fused onto it a plaque with a Message to the Generations of 8113 from Jacobs:

“This Crypt contains memorials of the civilization which existed in the United States and the world at large during the first half of the twentieth century. In receptacles of stainless steel, in which the air has been replaced by inert gasses, are encyclopedias, histories, scientific works, special editions of newspapers, travelogues, travel talks, cinema reels, models, phonograph records, and similar materials from which an idea of the state and nature of the civilization which existed from 1900 to 1950 can be ascertained. No jewels or precious metals are included.

We depend upon the laws of the county of DeKalb, the State of Georgia, and the government of the United States and their heirs, assigns, and successors, and upon the sense of sportsmanship of posterity for the continued preservation of this vault until the year 8113, at which time we direct that it shall be opened by authorities representing the above governmental agencies and the administration of Oglethorpe University. Until that time we beg of all persons that this door and the contents of the crypt within may remain inviolate.” (wikipedia)

More: Oglethorpe University’s website for the project contains a complete list of the time capsule’s contents, and Modern Mechanix has some scans of an article about the making of the Crypt from the December, 1938 edition of Popular Science.



Tenori-on is an electronic musical instrument, designed and created by Japanese artist, Toshio Iwai and Yu Nishibori of the Music and Human Interface Group, Yamaha Center for Advanced Sound Technology. It consists of a screen, held in the hands, of a sixteen by sixteen grid of LED switches, any of which can be activated in a number of ways to create an evolving musical soundscape. The LED switches are held within a aluminum frame, which has two built-in speakers located on the top of frame, as well as a dial and buttons that control the type of sound and beats per minute produced. There is also an LCD screen on the bottom edge of the frame. Using the connection function, it is possible to play a synchronized session, or to send and receive songs between two of the devices. (Wikipedia)

See also: Monome

Khronos Projector


From Henri Bergson’s The Creative Mind: An Introduction to Metaphysics:

…let us imagine an infinitely small piece of elastic, contracted, if that were possible, to a mathematical point. Let us draw it out gradually in such a way as to bring out of the point a line which will grow progressively longer. Let us fix our attention not on the line as line, but on the action which traces it. Let us consider that this action, in spite of its duration, is indivisible if one supposes that it goes on without stopping; that, if we intercalate a stop in it, we make two actions of it instead of one and that each of these actions will then be the indivisible of which we speak; that it is not the moving act itself which is never indivisible, but the motionless line it lays down beneath it like a track in space. Let us take our mind off the space subtending the movement and concentrate solely on the movement itself, on the act of tension or extension, in short, on pure mobility. This time we shall have a more exact image of our development in duration. (165)

I wonder how Bergson’s meditations on time and free will would have played out had he been able to mess around with the Khronos Projector, a time-spatializing Processing sketch by Alvaro Cassinelli. This online instance is a stripped-down version of Cassinelli’s 2005 installation:

The Khronos projector unties time and space in a pre-recorded movie sequence, opening the door for an infinite number of interactive visualizations. Using the Khronos  projector, event’s causality become relative to the spatial path we decide to walk on the image, allowing for a multiple interpretation of the recorded facts. In this sense, the Khronos projector can be seen as an exploratory interface that transforms a movie sequence into a spatio-temporal sculpture for people to explore at their own pace and will. (Khronos Projector)

Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius


Rabbit holes, world building and fictional encyclopediae: Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius by Jorge Luis Borges.


I owe the discovery of Uqbar to the conjunction of a mirror and an encyclopedia. The mirror troubled the depths of a corridor in a country house on Gaona Street in Ramos Mejia; the encyclopedia is fallaciously called The Anglo-American Cyclopaedia (New York, 1917) and is a literal but delinquent reprint of the Encyclopedia Britannica of 1902. The event took place some five years ago. Bioy Casares had had dinner with me that evening and we became lengthily engaged in a vast polemic concerning the composition of a novel in the first person, whose narrator would omit or disfigure the facts and indulge in various contradictions which would permit a few readers – very few readers – to perceive an atrocious or banal reality. From the remote depths of the corridor, the mirror spied upon us. We discovered (such a discovery is inevitable in the late hours of the night) that mirrors hare something monstrous about them. Then Bioy Casares recalled that one of the heresiarchs of Uqbar had declared that mirrors and copulation are abominable, because they increase the number or men. I asked him the origin of this memorable observation and he answered that it was reproduced in The Anglo-American Cyclopaedia, in its article on Uqbar. The house (which we had rented furnished) had a set of this work. On the last pages of Volume XLVI we found an article on Upsala; on the first pages of Volume XLVII, one on Ural-Altaic Languages, but not a word about Uqbar. Bioy, a bit taken aback, consulted the volumes of the index. In vain he exhausted all of the imaginable spellings: Ukbar, Ucbar, Ooqbar, Ookbar, Oukbahr… Before leaving, he told me that it was a region of Iraq of or Asia Minor. I must confess that I agreed with some discomfort. I conjectured that this undocumented country and its anonymous heresiarch were a fiction devised by Bioy’s modesty in order to justify a statement. The fruitless examination of one of Justus Perthes’ atlases fortified my doubt.

Continue reading “Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius”