Welcome to the ICI laboratory – an online enactment of our work at the Institute of Cultural Inquiry. We have created this arena for the play of random ideas that set into motion a string of associations whose sometimes-unfathomable connections can needle you, taunt you, even haunt you, until you acknowledge their collective silliness or engage them in acts of interpretation. Over the years we have used the material from our archives to form relationships, to re-enact ingrained social gestures, to explore cultural attitudes and dynamics. But we’ve mostly used it to jump-start our projects; the objects that make up our archives along with the ICI processes we use to set these objects in play are the very backbone of our organization.
We draw inspiration from those who came before us; individuals like Aby Warburg, Paul Otlet, André Malraux and Bernardino de Sahagún, all of whom tried to master the excess of the archive. And we are continuously invigorated by contemporary colleagues like the many contributors to our books or the editors of the Brooklyn-based Cabinet who explore the gaps of culture through unique palimpsests that are testaments to the parts of the archive that can never be harnessed.
Through this part of our website, we’ll introduce you to our multiple collections—an Ephemera Kabinett, an Earth Cabinet, a 2,500 volume library, and the notes and records of our work in the field. We are trained as artists, educators, architects, physicists, historians, poets, dancers, musicians, lawyers and environmentalists but we are all visualists and we call what we do – visual research. We invite you to share in our activities and encourage you to share in our work and conversations here on the web and at satellite sites around the world.