Agrippa – A Book of the Dead
Agrippa (a book of the dead) is a work of art created by speculative fiction novelist William Gibson, artist Dennis Ashbaugh and publisher Kevin Begos Jr. in 1992. The work consists of a 300-line semi-autobiographical electronic poem by Gibson, embedded in an artist’s book by Ashbaugh. Gibson’s text focused on the ethereal nature of memories (the title is taken from a photo album). Its principal notoriety arose from the fact that the poem, stored on a 3.5″ floppy disk, was programmed to encrypt itself after a single use; similarly, the pages of the artist’s book were treated with photosensitive chemicals, effecting the gradual fading of the words and images from the book’s first exposure to light.
There’s something really magical about this. I love Jason Rohrer’s Chain World, a game that is played once then passed to another player. But there’s something special about the physicality of Gibson and Ashbaugh’s book. Something beautifully ephemeral.