The Serving Library Company, Inc is a non-profit organisation established to manifest and model a culture of publishing rooted in the fields of art and design. It enacts this commitment forwards, as a publishing engine, and backwards, as an archiving mechanism, making the circular relationship between the two activities explicit.

In the spirit of the first public circulating library, founded in 1731, The Serving Library is a practical response to changing circumstances.

It is a set of conditions to address the urgency of contemporary publishing proactively by

a) providing a frame through which the evolving physical and social mechanics of publishing can be considered and affected outside the expectations fostered by the habitual trajectory of commercial publishing and distribution;

b) reclaiming the library – whether online or physically sited – as a space for public use, where resources are pooled to generate and maintain a network of shared information that serves the interests of a committed community;

and c) channelling time and energy into defining, developing and making available a vital core of knowledge around a broad definition of design as a cultural activity that produces rather than simply promotes.


The Serving Library is intended to render such diverse projects more coherent by collecting them under a new umbrella institution with a deliberate set of aims and intentions. Its form will continue to expand and change through the participation of an ever-growing circle of collaborators. Its mission is its motto, HOSPITIUM AD INFINITUM – the principle of Infinite Hospitality.

The Serving Library will develop and maintain an extensive online website (1) at as a public archive of Portable Document Format (PDF) texts (2) contributed by a rotating group of invited editors, to be published bi-annually. 


At the end of each six-month curriculum period (3), the digital documents distributed from will be collected, printed and distributed as Bulletins of The Serving Library (4).


Alongside the digital library, the physical library space of The Serving Library will contain and cultivate two main collections: of books (5) that map the far-reaching but still particular interests of the constellation of writers and other contributors that have appeared in Dot Dot Dot since 2000, plus the limited but focused backlist of book titles offered at the Dexter Sinister bookshop over the past five years, covering a wide gamut of contemporary publishing; and of objects (6) derived from illustrations in Dot Dot Dot, which Dexter Sinister have been accumulating since 2004. Conceived as a parallel operation to the printed journals, irregular exhibitions of these objects perpetuate an interest in physical artefacts as material carriers of culture – of experience over convenience.


The Serving Library will host a design residency programme (7)


The Serving Library intends to research, develop, and organise a speculative pedagogical programme (8) for free use in the public domain, based on a reconsideration of the Bauhaus Foundation Course, as conceived through the standard toolbox of contemporary design software.


(9) The Serving Library will offer intermittent workshop courses during the year, lasting anything from two weeks to two months, depending on the precise nature of the curriculum, and will stage exhibitions, events and other public programmes.


«Daí a função de uma arte obra aberta como metáfora epistemológica: num mundo em que a descontinuidade dos fenómenos pôs em crise a possibilidade de uma imagem unitária e definitiva, esta sugere um modo de ver aquilo que se vive, e vendo-o, aceitá-lo, integrá-lo na nossa sensibilidade. Uma obra aberta enfrenta plenamente a tarefa de oferecer uma imagem da descontinuidade: não a descreve, ela própria é a descontinuidade. Ela coloca-se como mediadora entre a abstracta categoria da metodologia científica e a matéria viva da nossa sensibilidade; quase como uma espécie de esquema transcendental que nos permite compreender novos aspectos do mundo.»

[ECO, Umberto, Obra Aberta, Editora Perspectiva, São Paulo, 1971, p. 158-9]

Etienne Balibar – From Structure to Rhizome
03.29.12 /07:38/ 1

With the notion of code, communication becomes simply a matter of recognizing the one-to-one equivalences. With that of encyclopedia, it becomes a matter of tracing out one of all the possible paths that can be taken through the network, rhizome, or labyrinth, and it is for this process that Eco uses Peirce’s term “abduction.” The example par excellence of abduction is the act of criminal detection. Eco’s argument is that, just as the detective finds the author of a crime by postulating certain rules concerning the connections between human motives and actions and physical events, so in the normal processes of communication we find the meaning of a sign by postulating certain rules concerning the relationship between that sign and others. Both cases involve finding one’s way through the labyrinth; in the latter case the rule may be more regularly applied (it may be “overcoded”), but the difference is one only of degree, not of kind. All forms of communication, interpretation, and understanding are by their nature, for Eco, tentative and hazardous acts of inference.

in ROBEY, David. Introduction, in ECO, UMBERTO. Open Work. HARVARD UNIVERSITY PRESS. Cambridge, Massachusetts. 1989

«Elementary ecology texts tell us that organisms interact in three fundamental ways, generally given the names competition, predation, and mutualism.The third member has gotten short shrift, and even its name is not generally agreed on. Terms that may be considered synonyms, in whole or part, are symbiosis, commensalism, cooperation, protocooperation, mutual aid, facilitation, reciprocal altruism, and entraide. We use the term mutualism, defined as “an interaction between species that is beneficial to both,” since it has both historical priority and general currency. Symbiosis is “the living together of two organisms in close association,” and modifiers are used to specify dependence on the interaction (facultative or obligate) and the range of species that can take part (oligophilic or polyphilic). […] Mutualism may be everywhere, but its existence remains practically unproven.»

 [Boucher, Douglas; James, Sam; Keeler, Kathleen H., “The ecology of mutualism”, in Annu. Rev. Ecol. Syst. 1982.13:315-347. Disponível em por University of Kanas-Lawrence & Edwards.]

«(…) devemos reconhecer que, enquanto a arte clássica se realizava contrariando a ordem convencional dentro de limites bem definidos, a arte contemporânea manifesta, dentre as suas características essenciais, a de colocar continuamente uma ordem altamente “improvável” em relação à ordem da qual se parte. Por outras palavras, enquanto a arte clássica introduzia figuras originais no interior de um sistema linguístico cujas regras básicas respeitava substancialmente, a arte contemporânea concretiza a sua originalidade estabelecendo um novo sistema linguístico que traz em si novas leis (…)»

[ECO, Umberto, Obra Aberta, Editora Perspectiva, São Paulo, 1971, p. 123-4]

«notion of recursive-i.e., nested structures. It contains stories within stories.»
03.28.12 /10:39

«Tomemos agora uma folha de papel branco, dobremo-la ao meio e borrifemos uma das metades com tinta. A configuração resultante será altamente casual, absolutamente desordenada. Dobremos de novo a folha ao meio, de modo a fazer com que a superfície da metade manchada coincida com a superfície da metade ainda branca. Reaberta a folha, encontrar-nos-emos diante de uma configuração que já recebeu certa ordem através da forma mais simples de disposição segundo as leis da probabilidade, segundo a forma mais elementar de redundância, que é a repetição simétrica dos elementos.»

[ECO, Umberto, Obra Aberta, Editora Perspectiva, São Paulo, 1971, p. 167]


Little Harmonic Labyrinth. This is based on the Bach organ piece by the same name. It is a playful introduction to the notion of recursive-i.e., nested structures. It contains stories within stories. The frame story, instead of finishing as expected, is left open, so the reader is left dangling without resolution. One nested story concerns modulation in music-particularly an organ piece which ends in the wrong key, leaving the listener dangling without resolution.

Little Harmonic Labyrinth

«(…)Goodfortune: Well, we have arrived. Disembark, my friends, into my fabulous all-electric kitchen-in-the-sky.

(They walk inside.)

Let me show you around, before I prepare your fates. Here is my bedroom. Here is my study. Please wait here for me for a moment. I’ve got to go sharpen my knives. While you’re waiting, help yourselves to some popcorn. Ho ho ho! Tortoise pie!

Tortoise pie! My favorite kind of pie! (Exit.)

Achilles: Oh, boy-popcorn! I’m going to munch my head off!

Tortoise: Achilles! You just stuffed yourself with cotton candy! Besides, how can you think about food at a time like this?

Achilles: Good gravy-oh, pardon me-I shouldn’t use that turn of phrase, should I? I mean in these dire circumstances … Tortoise: I’m afraid our goose is cooked.

Achilles:Say-take a gander at all these books old Goodfortune has in his study. Quite a collection of esoterica: Birdbrains I Have Known; Chess and Umbrella-Twirling Made Easy; Concerto for Tapdancer and Orchestra … Hmmm.

Tortoise: What’s that small volume lying open over there on the desk, next to the dodecahedron and the open drawing pad?

Achilles: This one? Why, its title is Provocative Adventures of Achilles and the Tortoise Taking Place in Sundry Spots of the Globe. Tortoise: A moderately provocative title.

Achilles: Indeed-and the adventure it’s opened to looks provocative. It’s called “Djinn and Tonic”.

Tortoise: Hmm … I wonder why. Shall we try reading it? I could take the Tortoise’s part, and you could take that of Achilles.

Achilles:I’m game. Here goes nothing …

       (They begin reading “Djinn and Tonic”.)

              (Achilles has invited the Tortoise over to see his collection of prints by his      favorite artist, M. C. Escher.)

             Tortoise: These are wonderful prints, Achilles.

             Achilles: I knew you would enjoy seeing them. Do you have any particular favorite?

              Tortoise: One of my favorites is Convex and Concave, where two internally consistent worlds, when juxtaposed, make a completely inconsistent composite world. Inconsistent worlds are always fun places to visit, but I wouldn’t want to live there.

              Achilles: What do you mean, “fun to visit”? Inconsistent worlds don’t EXIST, so how can you visit one?

              Tortoise: I beg your pardon, but weren’t we just agreeing that in this Escher picture, an inconsistent world is portrayed?

              Achilles: Yes, but that’s just a two-dimensional world-a fictitious world-a picture. You can’t visit that world.

              Tortoise: I have my ways …

              Achilles: How could you propel yourself into a flat picture-universe?

              Tortoise: By drinking a little glass of PUSHING-POTION. That does the trick.

              Achilles: What on earth is pushing-potion?




[in HOFSTADTER Douglas, Godel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid, p.111-112]

« (…) no âmbito das obras “abertas”, uma categoria mais restrita de obras que, pela sua capacidade de assumir diversas estruturas imprevistas (…), poderíamos definir como “obras em movimento”.»

[ECO, Umberto, Obra Aberta, Editora Perspectiva, São Paulo, 1971, p. 50]

Canvas  by  andbamnan