It is like stretching and reversing an idea with classification as axon. By classifying the visual you get to work with loose parts picked from the chaos of human thinking. Whereas visualizing a classification of knowledge is done within the spectrum of sciences; a much more organised field than the field of visual arts.
The act of compiling a museum entailing all human knowledge in the form of a visual encyclopedia sounds like an event set up for educational purposes. The “Encyclopedic Palace” of the 55th Venice Art Biennale director Massimiliano Gioni who “introduced the choice of theme evoking the Italo-American self-taught artist Marino Auriti who “on November 16, 1955 filed a design with the US Patent office depicting his Palazzo Enciclopedico (The Encyclopedic Palace), an imaginary museum that was meant to house all worldly knowledge, bringing together the greatest discoveries of the human race, from the wheel to the satellite” was a brilliant choice of concept; that, considering the recent (but not terminal) downfall of humanities studies with mutual consent of governments and people; pushed aside as not relevant to the quest for perpetual economical growth. Would economical growth and its turn for downfall have a space too in this museum, I do not know. Naturally such an attempt, of a visual encyclopedia, can only be elliptical, but the bottom line truly steeps in a big part of this year’s Biennale shows. Just to mention however that keywords like libraries, classification, taxonomy, had already made their appearance at the previous edition of the Venice Biennale.
Walking through the corridors of library buildings as part of my day-time job, I am aware of several projects concerned of classifying knowledge or visualizing science and its classification. For undefinable reasons such projects could easily be incorporated in art or beyond art (as they are called) events, should someone decide to present them as such. It is quite interesting to see how visual results of high aesthetic value do not really need the pretense of artistic concept and in effect surpass it.
http://scimaps.org/maps/map/design_vs_emergence__127/ and http://scimaps.org/exhibit_info/#8 (to see images of visualized classifications)
http://www.mundaneum.org/ (to read about the origins of Internet)
http://bridgesmathart.org/ (to see visualized mathematical structures)
and the website of an International seminar on this topic organized by the UDC Consortium, on 24-25 October in The Hague: “Classification & Visualization: Interfaces to Knowledge”
P.S. 1 I will also be present at this conference as member of the organizing team
P.S. 2 I wonder if contemporary visual arts, having dropped the “visual” will be merged with other fields of humanities in the digital library of the future, and what field of human expression will then claim the abandoned “visual”.