A Mathematical Theory of Communication

28.5 × 23 cm, 484 pages

A pioneer in the field of information theory, Claude Shannon writes in his A Mathematical Theory of Communication (1948), “the fundamental problem of communication is that of reproducing at one point either exactly or approximately a message selected at another point.”

In Gaviria’s homage to Shannon, A Mathematical Theory of Communication (2015), the artist reorganizes the mathematician’s original text, maximizing the information in it at the expense of its meaning. Or perhaps the translation heightens how the text can mean, allowing for a way of reading that actually enacts Shannon’s theory. And yet, by taking the theory at its word, Gaviria makes Shannon’s original meaning almost indecipherable. It becomes, instead, a visual representation—perhaps a performance—of an idea. As viewers, we see the representation of the idea, yet the details of Shannon’s theory are obscured. Gaviria’s book exists in a kind of liminal space: it acts between the articulation of the idea and its meaning, between the thing itself and how we can show it to someone else. It is a prepositional mode.

– Laura August