“La Biblioteca de Babel” Short Film by James van den Elshout
Inspired by the 1941 short story La Biblioteca de Babel by Argentine author and poet Jorge Luis Borges, Sydney-based designer/director James van den Elshout conjures otherworldly spaces to hold all of human knowledge.
James van den Elshout: “The Library of Babel is a place for scholars to do research, for artists and writers to seek inspiration, for anyone with curiosity or a sense of humor to reflect on the weirdness of existence – in short, it’s like any other library.
“If completed, it would contain every possible combination of 1,312,000 characters, including lower case letters, space, comma, and period.
“Thus, it would contain every book that has ever been written, and every book that ever could be – including every play, song, scientific paper, legal decision, constitution, piece of scripture, and so on. At present, it contains all possible pages of 3200 characters, about 10⁴⁶⁷⁷ books.
“To better understand and really put the enormity of the library and its contents into perspective, Jonathan Basil created an incredible website (libraryofbabel.info) where you can search it, all of it.
“Hit browse and be prepared to lose yourself. Alternatively, hit search and you will find that every thought you have ever had, every sentence you have spoken, already exists in the library, written down in a book.
“With that already out there, I set out to visualize and expand upon the world and theory that Jorge built.
“One of the concepts I added is the global timer in effect throughout the library. After a certain amount of time, the contents in each and every book are swapped with another book in the library at random, the timer is then reset.
“The hilarity of this is that not only would you have to find whatever book you are searching for in the correct place, but you would have to find it at the correct moment of time too. Perhaps this would drive adventurers even more insane.”
Director/animator: James van den Elshout
Base Typeface: Julian Stiber
Audio: Chris Anderson
Special thanks: Steven Guas