So 1,000 trees are being grown to turn into paper for an art project. If that sounds weird, it's because it is: the Future Library aims to eventually print the books, but long after the author (and the creators of the project) have died:
A thousand trees have been planted in Nordmarka, a forest just outside Oslo, which will supply paper for a special anthology of books to be printed in one hundred years time. Between now and then, one writer every year will contribute a text, with the writings held in trust, unpublished, until 2114.The most obvious issue with this is logistics. I have 15 year old CD-R discs that are now unreadable: the Library of Congress is constantly trying to preserve digital works because even the magnetic tape suggestion in the article isn't foolproof. The special room in the library is a nice idea, but what happens if the library gets renovated in 2045, or the caliphate burns it down? I suppose you should also worry about these thousand trees being cut down to build a nice desk somewhere, but the authors shouldn't really worry where the paper comes from.
The texts will be held in a specially designed room in the New Public Deichmanske Library, Oslo. Tending the forest and ensuring its preservation for the 100-year duration of the artwork finds a conceptual counterpoint in the invitation extended to each writer: to conceive and produce a work in the hopes of finding a receptive reader in an unknown future.
Katie Paterson's 100-year-long project is one of four public artworks produced by UK-based arts producer Situations for Slow Space, a programme of public artworks for Bjørvika Oslo's former container port, and commissioned by Bjørvika Utvikling. Claire Doherty, Director of Situations, says, "Future Library challenges our preconceptions about where and when public art takes place. Just as the new development of Bjørvika causes us to reimagine the future of this city, so this work compels us to think about what we might tell a future reader about our time."
Which leads to the next obvious point: who says in 2114 we'll all be using paper books? In fact, you may not want to bet on us using paper books by 2030 (though The Atlantic disagrees). Of course books will still exist in 2114, but nobody may be making them anymore. The future artist who fulfills this 100-yr art project may find his or her processing options severely limited.
To brings us to the final problem: will a future artist do this at all? Putting your unwritten work's future in the hands of not just a stranger but a stranger who probably won't be born in your lifetime seems a bit of a risk (but a non-harmless one, since it's already happening to almost all authors)). But there's a definite nonzero chance that in 2114 no trees will be cut down (heck, it may not even be legal in Norway to do so), no pages will be bound, no books of previously unread stories will ever be read. They may or may not make an e-copy, it may be forgotten and resurrected in another 250 years, it may be lost.
I suppose this is always a problem with creating something: the guy who made this statue of a woman (or perhaps a turkey) had no idea we'd still be looking at it now. For that matter he didn't know there'd be an us, or a now. It's just that bringing this into focus today may be more a piece of art than anything that gets published in 2114.