“I hesitated before untying the bow that bound this book together…”

Label on Agrippa CoverAgrippa (a book of the dead) appeared in 1992 as a collaboration between artist Dennis Ashbaugh, author William Gibson, and publisher Kevin Begos, Jr. The Agrippa Files is a scholarly site that presents selected pages from the original artist’s book; a unique archive of materials dating from the book’s creation and early reception; an emulation of Gibson’s included poem in its original born-and-die-digital form (it ran from a diskette once before an encryption-like effect made the diskette unrunnable); analysis of the code on the diskette resulting from a 2012 hacker’s contest; a simulation of what the book’s intended “fading images” might have looked like; a video of the 1992 “transmission” of the work; a “virtual lightbox” for comparing and studying pages; full-text scholarly essays and interviews; an annotated bibliography of scholarship, press coverage, interviews, and other material; a detailed bibliographic description of the book; and a discussion forum. (continued…)

New on the Site
Agrippa cryptography algorithm implemented in Javascript by Ayal Ryger. Can be used to decrypt the pre-encrypted text of Gibson’s poem; or to encrypt any plain text. (Only the decryption function was present on Agrippa’s disk to act on the pre-encrypted poem. The encryption function in this Javascript implementation was reverse engineered.)
Recovery of the code from an original 1992 diskette containing Gibson’s poem and an emulated “run” of its software. (Go to The Poem Running in Emulation)
Original footage from December 9, 1992, public debut of Agrippa at the Americas Society in New York City during the “Transmission” event. (Go to The “Hack”)
Essay by Matthew G. Kirschenbaum, with Doug Reside and Alan Liu, “No Round Trip: Two New Primary Sources for Agrippa




(selected pages)
Selected pages from Agrippa

Letter from Programmer

Early rumor Genomic sequence Letter from Programmer Letter from Programmer Code to scroll poem Code to scroll poem Begos to Gibson Begos to Gibson Enter Agrippa Enter Agrippa Kodak Album Kodak album John Perry Barlow to Kevin Begos

Transcriptions Project

 A Transcriptions Project

The Agrippa Files is a scholarly site created by a team of researchers participating in the Transcriptions Project on literature and information culture at the University of California, Santa Barbara, English Department. Photos of the book and scans or transcriptions of unique archival materials are used by permission of the book’s publisher, Kevin Begos. The Agrippa Files was created between July and December 2005, and launched on Dec. 9, 2005, to coincide with the anniversary of the 1992 Agrippa “transmission” event.

Archival Documents Archival Documents Fading Ink Simulation Video Fading ink simulation Video