Amplifier for Art, Science and Society

Infinity Room 2

Archives, Assemblages & Amusements


Infinity Room 2 reveals elements of the rich history manifest in the school’s various archives, records and assemblages, through eight installations: Open Science, Archive of Modern Construction, Alain Herzog Archive, Campus Chronicles, Archival Constellations, Super-vision, Balelec Nights, and Shadows of Drones.

Archival Constellations - Jazz Luminaries
Reclined under the fulldome in a hemispheric gestalt, participants unfold an experience based on the social network constellations of jazz luminaries from the Montreux Jazz Archive. This installation based on the UNESCO Memory of the World collection, digitized at EPFL, cuts, remixes and replays 5’400 jazz greats and over 13’000 videos.

© Sarah Kenderdine

Open Science
An eclectic assemblage of fifty scientific and iconic objects from EPFL are exhibited inside an array of augmented storage lockers. A contemporary Wunderkammer disclosing surprising 3D animations.

© Catherine Leutenegger

Hemispheres of the mind
Hemispheres of the Mind is a collaboration between the EPFL Laboratory for Experimental Museology and the EPFL Blue Brain Project.

© 2019 BBP/EPFL – all rights reserved.

Campus Chronicles
Three official EPFL magazines Polyrama (1970–2006), Flash (1973–2016) and EPFL Magazine (2016–2018), have chronicled campus life for nearly 50 years. The 29’000 pages of these monthlies include scientific achievements, counterbalanced by cartoons and artistic works where humour and creativity meet with excellence. In themselves, the cover pages of these magazines are a testament to the evolution of iconic Swiss design aesthetics. This entire archive is discoverable through a temporally distributed, page-turning experience.

© Sarah Kenderdine

Through EPFL’s history, 8’000 PhD theses have been defended over 50 years. EPFL publishes at least one thesis a day, and one way to grasp the academic evolution of EPFL is through the efforts of young researchers revealed in an interactive lexical and thematic browser.

© Catherine Leutenegger

Archive of Modern Construction
Archive of Modern Construction (ACM) exposes the origins of the built campus, as envisioned through its originating architects whose foundational patterns are imprinted onto the landscape in a series of grids, first rendered in colour plans and wooden scale models. EPFL was officially founded on 1 January 1969. It has grown to be a small city, comprised of celebrated architectural features, since the ground was first broken at the Ecublens site in 1973.
Original plans, models and over 1’000 photographs from the archival holdings of Jakob Zweifel, Bernard Vouga and Henri Germond are the basis of interactive installations that make it possible to trace this history.

© Catherine Leutenegger

Alain Herzog Archive
A sweeping collection by a single photographer created over a quarter-century, Alain Herzog has encapsulated the expressive energy of people at work, the multifaceted dimensions of science in the making and the striking architectural presence that has come to define the campus worldwide. Over half a million images taken between 1987 and 2019 are activated through an interactive installation informed by machine learning.

© EPFL - Alain Herzog

Balélec Nights
Organized by a student association, Balélec was originally the ball of the school’s electronics faculty and has been held every year at EPFL since 1981. With 300 volunteers from EPFL and UNIL, and 20 concerts for up to 15’000 participants, it is one of the largest student-run events in Europe. A visual interface provides the portal to a serendipitous journey of discovery through 10’000 images of this celebratory night and its 39 editions.

© Catherine Leutenegger

Architectural models
The three models represent projects proposed in the framework of competitions for the construction of buildings at EPFL. They embody a potential visualisation of the EPFL site, before it would develop into today’s distinctive architecture.

© Catherine Leutenegger

Shadows of Drones
The display assembles a swarm of drones to articulate the history of this science in the Laboratory of Intelligent Systems through an astonishing array of indoor and outdoor machines: rotorcraft, vision-based drones, collision-resilient winged drones, drones with gimballed exoskeletons capable of rolling against obstacles and a range of bio-inspired quadcopters with origami arms or bird-inspired feathers.
Aerial pocket camera drones, foldable delivery drones, drones that morph allowing both aerial and terrestrial locomotion, drones that can listen and even perch on ceilings complete this ensemble of visionary science and flies us into the future.

© EPFL - Alain Herzog

Infinity Room 2 investigates diverse ways to evolve institutional archives, and challenges the dominant history of archive-making. Archive 1.0 is said to have been a product of bureaucracy designed to be used as an instrument of management and power (as Michael Foucault set out in The Archaeology of Knowledge, 1969 1 ).

Archive 2.0 has been dubbed "archive fever" (after Jacques Derrida 2 ) since the mechanization and digitization of archival materials has created instant access to databases, based upon efficient dendritic classification, retrieval and statistical analysis.

Archive 3.0, the ‘future archive’, is based on the properties of recollection, regeneration, reworking; rich modes of engagement, new architectures; serendipities, visualizations, interfaces and interaction. Through collaborative co-creation, Archive 3.0 is dynamic, corresponding to a move from classification to remix, a paradigmatic shift from the orthodox model of stewardship, via curation and managed access, to one of co-production, as evident in the development of crowdsourcing and Application Programming Interfaces (APIs). Archive 3.0 calls for the creation of new prosthetic architectures for the production and sharing of archival resources. The animation of the archive derives its distributed authority from personal affective engagements with cultural memory.

  1. Michael Foucault (1969) L’archéologie du savoir, Paris: Gallimard. Translated as The Archaeology of Knowledge, Allan Sheridan (trans.), New York: Harper and Row, 1972.
  2. Jacques Derrida (1995) Mal d'archive: une impression freudienne, Editions Galilée, Translated as Archive Fever: A Freudian Impression, Eric Prenowitz (trans.), Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1996.

Researchers today know that archival records only present us with a partial account, just a small fragment of total history defined as much by lacunae as by content. While the making of EPFL’s history is still in its infancy, the numerous ways that its archive can be reassembled, mined and experienced is proliferating. Paradigm-changing technologies such as machine learning, computer vision and novel visualizations will continue to engage EPFL researchers across the campus for the years to come.

Jazz Luminaries (sound on)

Jazz Luminaries was created by EPFL’s Laboratory for experimental Museology (eM+) for Infinity Room 2 at ArtLab, in partnership with the Cultural Heritage & Innovation Center: Alain Dufaux, Olivier Bruchez
The Montreux Jazz Digital Project is a collaboration between EPFL, the Claude Nobs Foundation, and the Montreux Jazz Festival.

Conceived and directed: Sarah Kenderdine, eM+, EPFL, Switzerland
Network visualization: Kirell Benzi, eKino, France
Visualization team lead and application developer: Andrew Quinn, Italy
Audio design and application developer: Davide Santini, Italy
System design and application developer: Tim Gerritsen, Roy Gerritsen, y=f(x) lab, Netherlands
GLSL programming: Darien Brito, Tim Gerritsen, y=f(x) lab, Netherlands
Spherical controller, concept: Sarah Kenderdine; engineer Patrick Chouard, ArtLab