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The Journey from Zero to Infinity works of art

 Collection — oversize: 1-10
Identifier: 0300

Scope and Contents

The collection consists of ten works of art by Victor Raphael and Clayton Spada, displayed in the "From Zero to Infinity: The Story of Everything", USC Libraries, September 3-December 13, 2009. The remaining ten works of art from the exhibition were sent to the USC Fisher Museum of Art at the conclusion of the show.


  • 2009


Conditions Governing Access

Advance notice required for access.

Conditions Governing Use

All requests for permission to publish or quote from special collections must be submitted in writing to the Manuscripts Librarian. Permission for publication is given on behalf of Special Collections as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained.

Historical Note

In 2009, USC's Doheny Memorial Library held an exhibition which examined he idea of telling "the story of everything." The twenty artworks on display were the result of hundreds of hours of philosophical dialogue and artistic collaboration between Victor Raphael and Clayton Spada. Their primary focus was understanding how individuals make sense of their roles within the vast structure of the cosmos. Following intellectual wanderers who have traced similar threads in a limitless web of knowledge, they investigated fields as diverse as astronomy, religion, mythology and alchemy for visual inspiration.

They began by establishing a philosophical framework for their creative process, determining which areas of thought warranted further exploration. This body of ideas guided them as they started gathering a reservoir of visual imagery for their digital compositions, incorporating elements from woodcuts, engravings, etchings, and lithographs. They discovered many of the visual elements in the "From Zero to Infinity" series in rare works from the USC Libraries' Special Collections.

As they created their artworks, Raphael and Spada sent many digital files back and forth between their studios. Raphael initiated the process by using a Polaroid camera to create an abstract image and applying metal leaf onto its surface. After scanning the altered Polaroid, he then sent the file to Spada, who used Adobe Photoshop to modify it and layer other visual elements on top of it. He then sent the image back to Raphael for further tinkering. The artists spent up to years on some of their pieces before they were satisfied, and the printing process couuld begin. Through it all, Raphael and Spada shared a common conceptual framework that guided their dynamic artistic collaborations.

Their composition "Problema X" offers a window into their creative process. Beginning with an image that resembles a side view of a spherical, dust-clouded galaxy, they added visual elements from a sixteenth-century Spanish astronomical treatise by Juan Perez de Moya and a work on probability by the seventeenth-century Swiss mathematician Jakob Bernoulli. In the center they included a striking image from a German test about Hindu cosmology, showing giant creatures supporting the entirety of existence on their backs. The combination of elements explores the underlying structure of the universe while asking questions about how much we can really know about it. Although we want to find regularity and order in what we observe, how reliable can our perceptions be?


3 Linear Feet

Language of Materials



In the fall of 2009, USC's Doheny Memorial Library held an exhibition of twenty framed works of art created by Victor Raphael and Clayton Spada, the artists being inspired by rare works from USC Libraries' Special Collections. When the exhibition was over, ten of the pieces were retained by the USC Fisher Museum of Art; the remaining ten became part of USC Libraries' Special Collections.

Source of Acquisition

Collection was purchased from the artists.

Other Works in the Exhibition

The following works of art were part of the exhibition The Journey from Zero to Infinity but are part of the USC Fisher Museum of Art rather than Doheny's Special Collections:

Bubble Chamber

By Design

Eliptic Plane




Pioneer Greeting

Solar Currents


Spiral Nebula

Finding Aid for The Journey from Zero to Infinity works of art
Tyson Gaskill, Jacqueline Morin, and Andrew Wulf
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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Repository Details

Part of the USC Libraries Special Collections Repository

Doheny Memorial Library 206
3550 Trousdale Parkway
Los Angeles California 90089-0189 United States