Event tackles ‘Finnegans Wake’ with 12-hour reading

This graphic is based on the sigla, the visual signs, found in "Finnegans Wake." Graphic: Christian and Catherine Crochet.

Organizers are seeking volunteers to explore the experimental comedy

Release Date: October 25, 2017

“Samuel Beckett used to write that ‘Finnegans Wake’ ‘is not about something; it is that something itself.’ In more contemporary language, the medium is the message.”
Franck Bauchard , Technē Institute for Art and Emerging Technologies
University at Buffalo

BUFFALO, N.Y. — The University at Buffalo’s Technē Institute for Art and Emerging Technologies is volunteers to take part in a free, one-of-a-kind event on Nov. 1 that will explore James Joyce’s “Finnegans Wake.”

Finnegans Waves, produced by the Technē Institute with support from Hallwalls Contemporary Arts Center and the UB Department of Theatre and Dance, includes a 12-hour reading of the legendary work.

When: Nov. 1, from noon to midnight.

Where: In two different, but connected, spaces: Hallwalls and the 9th Ward at Babeville, both located at 341 Delaware Ave., Buffalo.

What: Finnegans Waves consists of two simultaneous parts: a Reading Machine, during which a “community of readers” will read “Finnegans Wake” out loud in 15-minute increments, and a Recirculation Café featuring a range of activities related to Joyce and the study of his work.

How to participate: Organizers are looking for volunteers to read “Finnegans Wake” in the original English text and in a variety of translations, including French, German, Italian, Spanish and Chinese. Award-winning artist and director Christian Giriat will manage the full 12-hour reading, which will take place in the Hallwalls cinema. Those wishing to participate can sign up here; readers will receive a free, limited edition T-shirt. Participants may attend for as long as they like, and come and go during the course of the event.

Local talent and scholars will present visual and digital experiments, music, a reading of excerpts from Joyce’s “Ulysses” and a Joyce-themed Science & Art Cabaret at the Recirculation Café in the 9th Ward

Why “Finnegans Wake? Techne Institute Director Franck Bauchard says that “Finnegans Wake” is a highlight of the Joyce collection in the UB Libraries. But there’s also a specific Technē Institute perspective regarding the work, he explains.

“Samuel Beckett used to write that ‘Finnegans Wake’ ‘is not about something; it is that something itself.’ In more contemporary language, the medium is the message,” Bauchard says.

“Finnegans Wake” played a pivotal role in the theory of media prescribed by Marshall McLuhan and others scholars, he says, and more recently, French philosopher Jacques Derrida described “Finnegans Wake” as a “1000th generation computer” or “hyper-amnesiac machine.”  

And, of course, Bauchard says, “Finnegans Wake” is considered to be unreadable. “But this unreadability is not the opposite of reading, but what gives reading its creative, playful and exploratory energy,” he says, adding that from this point of view, ‘Finnegans Wake’ is also a unique work.”

Media Contact Information

Cory Nealon
Director of News Content
Engineering, Computer Science
Tel: 716-645-4614
Twitter: @UBengineering