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Traité de documentation

From Algolit

Traité de Documentation. Three algorithmic poems.

by Rémi Forte, designer-researcher at L’Atelier national de recherche typographique, Nancy, France

serigraphy on paper, 60 × 80 cm, 25 ex., 2019, for sale at the reception of the Mundaneum.


The poems, reproduced in the form of three posters, are an algorithmic and poetic re-reading of Paul Otlet's Traité de documentation. They are the result of an algorithm based on the mysterious rules of human intuition. It has been applied to a fragment taken from Paul Otlet's book and is intended to be representative of his bibliological practice.

For each fragment, the algorithm splits the text, words and punctuation marks are counted and reordered into a list. In each line, the elements combine and exhaust the syntax of the selected fragment. Paul Otlet's language remains perceptible but exacerbated to the point of absurdity. For the reader, the systematization of the text is disconcerting and his reading habits are disrupted.

Built according to a mathematical equation, the typographical composition of the poster is just as systematic as the poem. However, friction occurs occasionally; loop after loop, the lines extend to bite on the neighbouring column. Overlays are created and words are hidden by others. These telescopic handlers draw alternative reading paths.