A wall of pixels greets you when you follow the link to Visualize the Public Domain on the NewYork Public Library Public Domain website, and it looks like something both lifeless and without meaning.
|A Wall of Pixels|
But allow your mouse to hover, and each pixel comes to life arousing something deeper than mere digital experience.
|Each Pixel tells a Tale|
One advantage is the sheer quantity that is now available to the digital scroller. Many curators have too many works to display, so storerooms house boxes of art and memorabilia. Once digitized and classified, these items become available to the click of a mouse. And more besides. The site describes the various channels into its volumes of works as experiments, encouraging even the most passive visitor to consider how it is all presented, and if there are other ways to get this out to the public, who let us not forget, are the current inheritors, curators, and future bestowers of every piece known and as yet unknown.
Behind each pixel is human endeavour, that of the artist to find meaning in the world, or an historian (amateur or professional) to conserve something of meaning for future generations, and the digitizers and visualizers who wish to share with as many people as possible the potentiality of each artefact, small and great.
The New York Public Library offer an API interface so that the data is truly ours to use and share freely. Perhaps one day our screen savers will be dipping into this ever growing global digital body and randomly pulling a painting from the Louvre or an imprint from a library in Kerry or wherever your settings may take you.