World Book Night 2016


Prof. Blake Morrison reading at Goldsmiths World Book Night 2015

World Book Night is an annual event to promote links between literacy and wellbeing organised by The Reading Agency, who say that reading for pleasure ‘is a globally recognised indicator in a huge range of social issues from poverty to mental health, yet in the UK 36% of people don’t regularly read (DCMS, 2015).’ Last year Goldsmiths library opened its doors to the public – as well as our students and staff – to celebrate World Book Night with a late night marathon of literary performances that stretched into the early hours.

This year join us from 7pm on Saturday 21st April and enjoy another nocturnal literary feast with readings from staff and students from the Black British Writing MA, a unique opportunity to hear a selection of prose and poetry from current Creative Writing MA students curated by LitLive, performances by Eley Williams, Iphgenia Baal and Julia Calver courtesy of The Literary Kitchen, plus open mic slots for readings from the floor, light refreshments, a book swap table and much more.

If you’re visiting from outside Goldsmiths please apply for a free ticket here so we know to expect you. For current Goldsmiths staff and students there’s no need to book, just swipe in with your card.

Shakespeare’s 400


Saturday 23rd April will be not only World Book Night, but also the 400th anniversary of the death of William Shakespeare, who died in Stratford-upon-Avon, the city of his birth, at the age of 52.

Shakespeare’s legacy is celebrated more so than ever this year, with events, festivals, exhibitions, performances and more. A recent piece on the Goldsmiths website explained how Goldsmiths is commemorating Shakespeare, including a performance of his great tragedy, King Lear, and several members of academic staff have published research that further analyses both Shakespeare’s work and life.

Then there’s the Shakespeare 400, a consortium of organisations, led by Kings College, London. They are responsible for a range of events both in London and beyond. Fancy a screening of Sir Laurence Olivier’s film version of Henry V or watching a midnight matinee of Much Ado About Nothing? How about a talk on the National Theatre’s Shakespeare productions? There’s something here for everyone with an interest in Shakespeare. Follow the hashtag to find out more.

The British Library is running its ‘Shakespeare in Ten Acts’ exhibition from mid-April until early-September, which looks at groundbreaking Shakespeare performances and features rare and unique items, such as handwritten play scripts and early printed editions. Discovering Literature: Shakespeare is a new resource allowing you to access a wealth of Shakespeare-related resources.


The library has an extensive collection of Shakespeare materials. His plays and poems are available at the following classmarks:

  • Complete works 822.33 A
  • Comedies 822.33 G
  • Histories 822.33 O
  • Tragedies 822.33 K
  • Poetical works 822.33 Q
  • (Poems Q1, Sonnets Q7)

For individual plays, use the 822.33 classmark, then use the following letter/number, e.g. G1

  • All’s Well That Ends Well G1
  • Anthony and Cleopatra K1
  • As You Like It G3
  • Comedy of Errors G5
  • Coriolanus K3
  • Cymbeline J5
  • Hamlet K7
  • Henry IV (pts 1 & 2) O1
  • Henry V O3
  • Henry VI (pts 1,2,& 3) O5
  • Henry VIII O7
  • Julius Caesar L1
  • King John P1
  • King Lear L3
  • Love’s Labour’s Lost G7
  • Macbeth L5
  • Measure for Measure H1
  • Merchant of Venice H3
  • The Merry Wives of Windsor H5
  • A Midsummer’s Night Dream H7
  • Much Ado About Nothing I1
  • Othello L7
  • Pericles J7
  • Richard II P3
  • Richard III P5
  • Romeo and Juliet M3
  • Taming of the Shrew I3
  • The Tempest I5
  • Timon of Athens M5
  • Titus Andronicus M7
  • Troilus and Cressida N1
  • Twelfth Night I7
  • Two Gentlemen of Verona J1
  • A Winter’s Tale J3

Furthermore, we have access to LION, which has Shakespeare audio plays, and web text versions of the plays are also available.

We also have specific Shakespeare journals. Just search for Shakespeare on the catalogue as a journals search. Titles include Shakespeare Quarterly and Shakespeare Studies

Our AV collections also have filmed versions of Shakespeare plays, from a 1936 version of ‘As You Like It’ to last year’s ‘Macbeth’, starring Marion Cotillard and Michael Fassbender. You can also watch films/television programmes and listen to radio programmes about Shakespeare on Box of Broadcasts.

If you want to learn more about Shakespeare and his work or just re-familiarise yourself, there are plenty of options both in the library and outside.

Cybernetic Serendipity on the Electronic Superhighway


By Jack Mulvaney, Special Collections Assistant

Electronic Superhighway, a major exhibition currently on display at The Whitechapel Gallery (29 January – 15 May 2016), focuses upon how contemporary art has adapted its creativity towards new digital mediums. It brings together over 100 works from established names such as Nam June Paik, from whom the exhibition title is borrowed, to more recent innovators such as Ryan Trecartin  and.  In the Whitechapel Gallery’s own words:

Arranged in reverse chronological order, Electronic Superhighway begins with works made at the arrival of the new millennium, and ends with Experiments in Art and Technology (E.A.T), an iconic, artistic moment that took place in 1966. Key moments in the history of art and the Internet emerge as the exhibition travels back in time.

A narrative is forged in this idiosyncratic manner, as the inverted journey through a moment of art history reveals both the convergences and differences in how artists approached the information revolution. As Electronic Superhighway examines the fascinations and malaise of virtual reality in a rhythmic fashion, it becomes interesting to look back to artists such as the aforementioned Nam June Paik and examine how the reality of our predicament matches the hypothesis of previous artists. Although the delivery and medium differed by looks dated by today’s standards, such as June Paik’s now ubiquitous TV screen sculptures formed of clunky CRT monitors, there is a clear expectation that digital life would reshape our inner lives. This is reflected in the offerings of contemporary artists, where a clear trend towards simulating the uncanny vertigo of an increasingly hyperreal virtual reality emerges in Electronic Superhighway.


Cybernetic Serendipity (1968) ephemera on display at Electronic Superhighway (2016). Images by author.

It was exciting for Special Collections & Archives of Goldsmiths Library to find an exhibit in Electronic Superhighway of documentation from the Cybernetic Serendipity (1968) exhibition, the spiritual forerunner of Electronic Superhighway, including copies of some of the rare ephemera that is held here in our very own collections.

Opening in London at the ICA in 1968, Cybernetic Serendipity was radical for its time, exploring the frontier of communications technology long before it would become a point of cultural fascination. Curated by Jasia Reichardt, the emphasis was on algorithms as a productive force generative force of artistic content.

Several mediums were used to explore this notion. There was a large emphasis on aural creativity, with a significant part of the exhibition dedicated to devices that generated unique compositions of music. Taking inspiration from composers who wrote in mathematically informed manners such as the precociously modernist Charles Ives, much of the sonic work in Cybernetic Serendipity sought to use operations taken from computing for the production of harmonious sounds.

Whilst computer’s new found utility for producing new symphonic compositions was experimented with in one manner, another aspect of Cybernetic Serendipity focused on the ‘serendipitous’ ecologies that could be produced by building systems of exchange between the user and technology. One piece performing this exact idea was an interactive installation by early synthesizer pioneer Peter Zinovieff that allowed sounds made by visitors to be sung into a microphone which then translated the sound waves and attempted an improvisation of an original piece of music.

The ICA produced a vinyl compilation of audio pieces to accompany the exhibition, featuring the likes of John Cage and Iannis Xenakis, as well as the aforementioned Zinovieff. For years this has been a scarce object as only a handful of copies were ever made and sold at the exhibition itself. Fortunately for those interested in this early foray into electronic music production, Special Collections & Archives managed to acquire a copy via a re-release run in 2014 by the label The Vinyl Factory. As the ICA website describes in their promotional materials:

Both unique and extraordinarily influential, Cybernetic Serendipity Music captured a nascent scene on the cusp of a synth-led electronic revolution and was the only compilation of its kind to bring together the musicians, composers and inventors pushing the boundaries of early computer music on one record, a good six years before Kraftwerk’s Autobahn changed modern music for ever.

Though the aural aspects of Cybernetic Serendipity were prescient, there was also much attention given over to visual manifestations of creative computing. Media art pioneer Nam June Paik was present with the mechanical sculpture Robot K-456 and some of the aforementioned interactive television sets that make an appearance in Electronic Superhighway. Jean Tinguely contributed two machines able to autonomously paint in a similar fashion to the self producing music machines described elsewhere in the exhibition, whilst his cohort in auto-destructive art Gustav Metzger created a typically terminal creation called Five screens with computer programmed to gradually disintegrate over time. Gordon Pask arranged a group of large mobiles that integrated the viewers via large moving parts. Bruce Lacey anticipated the drone age with radio-controlled robots and other automaton such as a light-sensitive owl.

A particularly curious feature of the Cybernetic Serendipity monograph is the amount of attention given of to Computer generated images, or CGI as it is often referred to now. It is clear that artificially constructed computer visuals, though not fully understood, was being anticipated on the horizon. The monograph features several pages of text and images that investigate how concepts such as pattern recognition and geometric depth will be essential to the exchanges users perform with technology. This was strongly reflected in the main exhibition in a permutations with pieces such as a simulated Mondrian piece and the iconic decreasing squares spiral that appears on the exhibition’s poster and monograph. A video from the Boeing corporation featured a demonstration of wire frame modelling, the skeletal system of interconnecting points that is now an industry standard in CGI production. This dimension of Cybernetic Serendipity highlighted the gestalt-like ability of the human brain in organizing simple shapes into complex images with depth and shade, something that would prove necessary for the later production of virtual reality.


Cybernetic Serendipity (1968) poster, on display at Electronic Superhighway (2016). Images by author.

Though dated by the immersive and hyperreal standards, Cybernetic Serendipity was radical in beginning a conversation in art about the impact information and computer technology was to have on aesthetics. It’s legacy was considered significant enough that the ICA decided to return to it in a retrospective in 2014. The nostalgia for mining previous incarnations of digital life is perhaps drawn from the interesting observations to be gained from some of the differences in how technology and culture have developed, as well as the uncanny similarities. It’s location in The Whitechapel Gallery’s Electronic Superhighway provides it with such a context, as it locates the exhibition within a series of historical trends in visual art continues into the contemporary with artists such as Cory Archangel and Hito Steyerl.

Though the monograph and vinyl record are bound behind glass at Electronic Superhighway, here at Special Collections & Archives we have both available for viewing and listening in our Goldsmiths Library facilities all year round. To inquire about arranging a booking for Cybernetic Serendipity materials or any of our other research material, please email or call on +44(0)20 7717 2295.

Kanopy Streaming Service Trial


Across April, we have a trial to Kanopy, an on-demand streaming video service for educational institutions. In this trial we have access to around 26,000 films in a range of subject areas, including:

  • Film (including access to the Criterion Collection of classic and contemporary cinema)
  • The Arts (including Design, Music and Photography)
  • Global Studies and Languages (including African, Asian and Middle Eastern and Latin American studies)
  • Media and Communications (including Journalism, Marketing, Advertising and PR)
  • Social Sciences (including Anthropology, History and Politics and International Affairs)

To access, first visit the trial homepage. If you are asked to log in, the details are as below:

Username: gold

Password: access

The homepage will show which films we have access to, and you can either browse by subject or search for a specific film. Once you’ve selected a film, you can play it, but also create clips/playlists, read synopses and also share/embed the film.

A successful trial makes it more likely that we’ll subscribe, so please watch as many films as you wish this month.