Burning Man installation is unveiled on the British Library’s piazza

People admiring Crossroads of Curiosity by David Normal at Burning Man festival 2014.

From the Nevada desert to Euston Road, artist David Normal has brought the British Library’s collections to life in an ‘epic suite’ of murals called Crossroads of Curiosity.

  • On display on the Library’s piazza from Sunday 21 June until 8 November

Unveiled on Saturday 20 June, the eve of the summer solstice, with the likes of DJ Yoda and founder of Burning Man, Larry Harvey, the installation juxtaposes images from our millions of digitised book illustrations released onto Flickr.

Originally created for Burning Man 2014, David Normal used Victorian Era book illustrations exclusively from the Library’s digitised collections to create the artwork. Beginning as black and white collages, the four pieces which make up the artwork were developed into 8’ x 20’ lightbox murals that were arrayed around the base of the Burning Man effigy to support the 2014 festival’s theme, ‘Caravansary’.

The installation incorporates an augmented reality self-guided tour that will allow viewers to explore the meaning and origins of the painting’s symbols using Blippar. Visitors can scan the murals using cameras on a phone to call up the collage source material on the phone’s screen and then interact with the artist’s interpretations.

Visual artist David Normal, said:

“Who would have guessed that a few obscure digital images, seemingly so insubstantial, could combine to form new meanings with such resonance that they are presented on a monumental scale?  It demonstrates the inspiring power and importance of digitised library collections. Now the murals literally sit above the books from which their images derived – a kind of poetic justice fittingly within The Poet's Circle on the Library’s piazza.”

We will be unveiling the artwork on Saturday 20 June. Talks with artist David Normal, Larry Harvey, founder of the Burning Man Festival, and Viktor Wynd of the Last Tuesday Society and the Museum of Curiosity, will be followed by an exclusive outdoor launch party featuring the illumination of the installation at dusk, with performances, readings, and artwork. The evening will be accompanied by scratch-and-mix DJ Yoda, who has also experimented and created new tracks with BL sound collections.

The event is supported by the British Library, Eccles Centre for American Studies, Friends of the British Library, Burning Man Arts Foundation and other private donations.

To find out more about the work, and to learn more about the original source of the illustrations in the Library's collections, see www.crossroadsofcuriosity.com

The installation, Crossroads of Curiosity, will be displayed on the British Library’s piazza until 8 November and is free to the public.


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Notes to Editors

In 2013 millions of the Library’s digitised images were made available via Flickr Commons for anyone to use, remix and repurpose. These images were taken from the pages of 17th, 18th and 19th century books digitised by Microsoft who then generously gifted the scanned images to us, allowing us to release them back into the Public Domain.


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The British Library is the national library of the United Kingdom and one of the world's greatest research libraries. It provides world class information services to the academic, business, research and scientific communities and offers unparalleled access to the world's largest and most comprehensive research collection. The Library's collection has developed over 250 years and exceeds 150 million separate items representing every age of written civilisation and includes books, journals, manuscripts, maps, stamps, music, patents, photographs, newspapers and sound recordings in all written and spoken languages. Up to 10 million people visit the British Library website - www.bl.uk - every year where they can view up to 4 million digitised collection items and over 40 million pages.