The Agrippa Files
December 13, 2008 1:32 AM   Subscribe

The Agrippa Files presents a fairly expansive overview of the original and very rare 1992 art book Agrippa (a book of the dead), a collaboration between artist Dennis Ashbaugh, author William Gibson, and award-winning journalist Kevin Begos, Jr. that presciently explored the ephemeral nature of and decay of memories and information.

The comprehensive site includes selected pages from handmade and other editions of the book, along with a simulation of disappearing ink-printed pages, as well as the source code, bit-level copy and emulation of William Gibson's self-destructing work of poetry, which can be read once before it irreversibly encrypts itself. The Agrippa Files also collects scholarly essays on the artworks, exploring meaning and impact.
posted by Blazecock Pileon (11 comments total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
Holy fritole, this is awesome! I remember brainlusting over the original concept of this book/text that disappears after reading. So fantastic that someone found a way to immortalize the content for the rest of us proles that couldn't afford buckets of ducats for our own copy (despite what the authorial intent may have been). I'm sure Gibson, if anyone, would appreciate the proliferation of information in a non-scarcity based economy structure at this point in time.
posted by FatherDagon at 2:06 AM on December 13, 2008

This is fantastic. Fittingly of its time. Does anyone know the value of the originals?
posted by MrMerlot at 2:30 AM on December 13, 2008

Fascinating. I love the disappearing ink concept, shame the technology of the time wasn't up to it.

(I have a pair of drawings that were supposed to fade in a similar way, but one of them has been blu-tacked to my fridge for three years now and looks as crisp as it did the day I was given it - I wonder if the artist was bluffing, or if ink technology still can't do reliable disappearance.)
posted by jack_mo at 2:50 AM on December 13, 2008

Also, it's wonderful to see an artists' book that actually does something with the medium - I sort of collect them, and almost all are pretty straightforward, with reproductions/photographs of the artist's work, with an essay or text of some sort.
posted by jack_mo at 2:56 AM on December 13, 2008

a classic! Thanks, Blazecock Pileon!
posted by honest knave at 4:05 AM on December 13, 2008

I saw this on boing-boing a few days ago and from what I recall it's pretty valuable now, well over a thousand dollars, if not more. There are a variety of versions as well.
posted by scarello at 7:01 AM on December 13, 2008

I'm glad to read that the idea of 'memory RNA' has been discarded. Had there been a linguistic cue that produced a snippet of the stuff that trashed your.... Well, maybe they have written other books....
posted by Kronos_to_Earth at 8:05 AM on December 13, 2008

This Agrippa is interesting, but I find that Thibault cancels out Capa Ferro. Don't you?
posted by rokusan at 10:42 AM on December 13, 2008

Thanks for this! I have, for years now, harbored a secret dream that I will one day actually find one of these in a store somewhere, and purchase it.

posted by griffey at 7:14 PM on December 13, 2008

This Agrippa is interesting, but I find that Thibault cancels out Capa Ferro. Don't you?

Naturally. The terrain isn't rocky enough for Bonetti's Defense.
posted by Amanojaku at 1:31 AM on December 15, 2008

I remember hearing about this when I was younger, but I always figured it was a myth, something cooked up in the feverish imaginations of Gibson fanboys. I'm glad I'll get a chance to see the "real" thing.
posted by lekvar at 5:33 PM on December 15, 2008

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