Archive Everything: Mapping the Everyday

AuthorGabriella Giannachi
FinishedFebruary 24, 2020
Rating3.0 / 5

Goodreads link


Introduction

  • Paul Otlet defined "document" as objects that convey information and thus the term could refer to anything collected by archives, museums, or libraries
    • This book: trace diversity of functions of the archive historically
  • Archive (definition) as an apparatus
    • Archive cannot be read in isolation ... it is relational
    • Directly affects our behaviors, actions, thoughts
    • "We design the archive as the apparatus we want to be produced by" (xvi)
    • Archive evolves in parallel with "changing attitudes toward culture, philosophy, politics, and society"
  • Archive as documents, sites, ordering systems, ... databanks, interfaces, artworks, environments, game-spaces, networks, platforms, mixed reality trails, musical instruments, motors for the economy ...
  • Archive not as a set of objects (noun) but rather as a knowledge-generating process or lab (verb)
  • This book "looks at how the apparatus of the archive acts as a transformational lens through which we augment our presence, namely our relationship to our environment, and map everything that merges as a consequence of this augmentation" (xvii)
  • The archive is still evolving and enables us to "sketch out in advance the face that we will have in the future" (xx)
    • our present self decides how we will look in the future
  • "The archive is what determines our ability to 'be contemporaries not only of our century and the 'now', but also of its figures in the texts and documents of the past'" (xxi)

Chapter 1 - Brief History of the Archive

  • Archives Versions
    • Archives 0.0: Local archive, usually focuses on history of person or community
    • Archives 1.0
      • show bureaucracy of early state
      • instruments of management, legitimization, consolidation of power (5) and legitimacy for rulers ... "Archive became a function of Empire" (8)
      • "inscription is synonymous with power" (5)
      • Manual for the Arrangement and Description of Archives (1898): describes keeping archives as kept in their original order (separate fonds) ... no mixing or amalgamation (provenance, original order)
      • ex: Vatican Archives
    • Archives 2.0: Digitization and mechanization of archival databases (marks change in archival practice) —> open access, efficient classification and retrieval, associated with statistical analysis of data
      • Changing role of archive as a global circulation system of most valuable commodity - knowledge
      • Schellenberg: Primary value of records to original creator; secondary value to subsequent readers (for historical posteriority)
      • Shift on treating electronic datafiles as discrete and isolated items —> part of comprehensive, multimedia information universe
      • Emphasis on information content over provenancial context
      • Archives as no longer static material but as something that people can engage with
    • Archives 3.0
      • Changing function of archive from "stable and retroactive" to "generative" (15) ... becoming part of the exhibition
      • Archive as an object and a process (20)
    • Archives 4.0
      • relational thinking ... allows users to juxtapose physical and digital spaces, past and present
      • Social media can turn "all present data into instantly accessible archival entries ... streaming media ..." (23)
      • Adaptive, transitive, flexible
  • Different definitions of "archive"
    • Site/location (noun) - "the place where records are kept"
    • Content (noun) - "the records themselves" (3)
    • Mechanism (verb) - "archiving archive"; mechanism for transmission
  • Different functions of archives
    • Tool for preservation
    • Mechanism for dissemination
    • Ordering system for the production of knowledge
    • Evidence to which the archives bear to the transactions and customs ... the context
    • (Archive 2.0) - Database "representing an amalgam of materials"
      • "The user is not only a part of, but also, more and more, an instrument in their creation and propagation" (12)
      • recursive
      • recurrent definition
      • "Archives 2-4 operate by folding everything back within themselves... the ordering mechanism that is increasingly adopted to shape the way we interface with and document ourselves in the everyday" (15)
  • Darwinian Archive - survival of the fittest for what constitutes the archive (actual values of the content)
  • Technological obsolescence - emphasis shifted from preservation of the information carrier to the "facilitation of accessibility over time" (11)
  • Archives not as "passive storehouses of old stuff" but rather as "active sites where social power is negotiated, contested, confirmed" (25)

Chapter 2 - Archives as Archaeological Sites

  • de Certeau: Archive as "general system of the formation and transformation of statements" ... a "knowledge-generating system ... a system of enunciation ... border of time that surrounds our presence" (29)
  • Foucault: Archive as a presencing tool used to generate order
    • "As what is in front of or before us changes constantly, the construction of presence requires a continuous repositioning (or reframing) of the self in relation to what is other to it" (29)
    • The question of "real time"
    • Web archiving tools are not instantaenous
    • What is the acceptable "margin of error" for how much time is involved in one snapshot of time, in one archive?
    • "No archive is ever completely stable, closed. Archives are ... open to re-interpretation, re-ordering, re-enouncing" (29)
    • Do web archives HAVE the capability to be more accurate?
  • Michael Shanks
    • Archaeology artifacts not as "temporal indices and cultural markers" but as "means to understand past society" (30)
    • Necessity of artifact of being situated in the CONTEXT of the society that produced it rather than standing on its own and speaking for itself
    • Context is important
    • Archaeology as a discipline of relationships (mediation of past and present rather than a discovery of what happened in the past)
    • The PRESENT context matters a lot in terms of evaluating the past
    • "set up relationships with what remains" (31)
    • "A continuing process of interpretation"
  • Tools from Archaeology
    • Deep Map - juxtapose fact and fiction, data and oral histories, historical and contemporary, political and poetic, factual and fictual ... "conflation of oral testimony, anthology, memoir, biography, natural history and everything you might ever want to say about a place" (33)
      • Archive as a deep map (laboratory for performance of presence and identity)
    • Stratigraphy (from geology) - studies rock layers, layers, stratification, how relationship between layers form and what this means in terms of the context that produced them —> creation of chronology
  • Traditional archive vs. digital archive (52)
    • Digital - inherently unstable
    • Traditional - stable for long period of time
    • Both - tendency to remain
  • Art example
    • "historical documents here become the very tools through which new unexpected juxtapositions can be created"
    • plurality of forms, performartive, "living archive" in that it is constantly changing and people can add, adapt, mutate, move things
    • "user generated archive" (54)
    • TO ME this feels a bit gimmicky. You're just using a variety of different archives in art project
    • Archive as laboratory for performance of presence and identity (55)

Ch 3 - Architecture, Memory, and the Archive

  • Pierre Nora ("Between Memory and History") - We delegate to the archive "the responsibility of remembering" (57-58)

    • Memory: in permanent evolution due to remembering and forgetting ... takes "root in the concrete"
    • History: "Representation of the past" ... "binds itself to progressions and to relations between things"
    • "modern memory is above all archival" ... memory is reliant on traces, recordings, images ... "preservation in the archive have become indispensable for the operation of memory processes" (58)
      • THIS IS IMPORTANT for what we remember
    • In 1970s trend for increase in "criticism of official versions of history" and suspicion towards single canonic History ... "upsurge in memory" ....
      • linked to our present-day obsession with "our presence, its capture, preservation, and replay in the archive" (58)
    • Memory not so much as recollection of something in the past, but as construction or reconstruction of the PAST in the PRESENT (59)
      • In RELATION to our presence
      • "As if a construction of the present moment could only occur by relating ourselves to the traces of the past" (59)
  • Role played by use of archives as laboratories for memory production ... Archive as a memory aid

  • Memorial Vs. Archival cultures

    • Archival cultures like modern day - self-documentary
    • Medieval cultures - "memorial", rely heavily on architectural structures to imprint on the memories of places
      • ex: orator moves through "virtual" building while speaking, using architectural features that were "current" to their times as prompts to recall particular memories (59)
  • "Autonomizing of the present" —> "Emergence of the present as a category for understanding our own lives" (60)

    • i.e. Wordpress, Twitter, FB
  • Past can only be read in relation to the present

    • Archive as "memory architecture" where we understand the past in relation to the present
    • "By building new memories in relation to the past, we become the curators of our own lives, constantly producing new traces to re-write our histories in relation to those of others" (60)
  • Plurality of memory

    • Episodic/Autobiographical memory (usually from our POV), crucial for identity forming, sense of self
    • Source memory - where we acquired specific item of information
    • Semantic memory - knowledge of impersonal facts
    • Collective memory - memories shared by groups
    • Primary memory - those of people who have lived through certain events
    • Secondary memory - usually analyst, observer, secondary witness such as historian
  • Remembering

    • We continuously re-categorize the past so that our memories are never the same
    • Remembering is not recollection (like going thru a photo book)
    • Rather, it is recreation (constantly changing, creative process, subjective quality of conscious experience
    • CONCLUSION: Archive forms a crucial part in how societies see and think of themselves (62)
    • Because memories are constantly changing, and how we as present-society are changing the ways that we see the past and our relation to the past, the archives are also not a static thing, if we think of archives as a thing in RELATION to our present
  • "Archive is an exposition of a continual process of sedimentation" (64) (Christian Boltanski)

    • "Individual references become traces that lose their singular identity, only to function in mass as an archive of memory" — NOT UNLIKE BIG DATA?
  • EX: Holocaust museums. We learn about the Holocaust and bear witness to it and map this knowledge into our own memory ... we produce our own memories and write ourselves as part of that history

  • "Role of witnessing" within the archive... so many different POV

    • Documents in archives are not necessarily evidence to truthfulness of original event
    • Documents in archive as part of environment of occurrence
  • Apps to look up (to stimulate creative thinking and prompt memory re-creation, mental meandering)

    • Time Trails: Literally can't find this one... I guess it doesn't exist anymore
    • Serendiptor: alternative navigation app for the iPhone that helps you find something by looking for something else... Seems like 8 years out of date
    • Derive: Dérive app gets you lost in your city and lets you share that experience with others.
    • Placeify: platform to create mobile tours based upon interactive map locations.
    • Findery: you can find and leave notes around the world
    • History Pin: At Historypin we develop and maintain storytelling methods used by 3000+ cultural organisations to expand their communities - and bring their resources to life
      • Bad UX
  • These apps help users "attach their own memories to places" (81) therefore helping us partake in creating our own archives and records, essentially...

    • "presence emerges out of a set of relationships with one's environment" (82)
    • "allows for archival materials to be experienced outside of the institutions that host them" (91)
    • "facilitates encounters with archives within the fabric of our everyday lives... By creating, documenting, and replaying the traces we leave, ... we are not only incorporate the memory of others into our own and, in turn, become part of a particular history but also, by mapping and mapmaking, we embed these processes within the physical spaces we encounter as part of our daily lives" (91)
    • "new histories are written that affect how particular moments in time are perceived in the environment we live in." (92)

    "we become the historians of [our] own lives" (92)

NOTE: Big data archive - too much memory? Knowledge management ... memory access. How to map reduce. Can we have "perfect memory"? Can we have history and memory map to each other as accurate? Can we have a measure of accuracy for this mapping

Chapter 4: Diasporic Archives

  • We need hybrid methodology towards presentation of cultural origin and interpretation of archival materials. We must question conventional Euro-centric archival concepts that preserve memories of migrant and diasporic communities whose cultures are "frequently excluded from traditional archives" (94)
    • Diasporic archive usually uses social computing and web 2.0 and crowdsourcing to gather, share, preserve oral histories
    • Disasporic archive deals with multiple and possibly conflicting perspectives (108)
    • Diasporic archive as "tool for cultural orientation" and make it possible for "oppressed cultures to be brought to light and their histories to be rewritten" (95)
    • Lets you decide: What is still open to interpretation?
    • "the diasporic archive entails essential absences: it is intrinsically unstable, but also unfinished" (95)
    • "the histories of marginalized or defeated communities were often appropriated within the archives of dominant civilizations" (99)
      • ME: Well, this seems like this is true by definition. In general the dominant power wants to erase and empower the subdued and defeated community to show that they're in power. This happens literally everywhere in history.
      • Well... "What remains of an archive, any archive, but in particular a diasporic archive, is often the result of destruction or plundering caused by conflict" (98)
    • diasporic archive has the "capacity to show change" (101)
  • Archive vs. Repertoire (Diana Taylor)
    • Archive = "supposedly enduring materials" like texts, documents, buildings, bones
    • Repertoire = "so-called ephemeral repertoire of embodied practice/knowledge" like spoken language, dance, sports, ritual (109), "ephemeral, non-reproducible knowledge"

Ch 5 - The Art of Archiving

  • Different artworks use archiving a lot

    • "Often to challenge and/or critique canonical epistemological models" (124)
  • CABINETS OF CURIOSITY

    • Systems of classification and collection
    • Started with Pliny the Elder's Historia naturalis (AD 77-79) which tried to describe the world in its entirety and then progressed to analyze nature's component parts "in a way that was capable of being directly translated to the physical collection" (124)
    • Literal cabinets, associated with libraries, gardens, pharmaceutical collections, universities, workshops, laboratories, ... fossils, stones, armor, primitive weapons, tools, machines, natural specimens, fabricated specimens (unicorns, giants, dwarfs)

    "These early memory systems played a crucial role in how, nowadays, we use archives relationally, for example, to bridge between present and past, individual and collective histories" (125)

    • studioli (Northern Italy late 15th C) - Lorenzo de Medici
    • Quiccheberg's system - direct link between classification and exhibition
    • Emperor Rudolf II of Hapsburg - huge collection (including a Nile horse, drawings of plants and animals, 800 paintings) devoted to naturaalia, scientifica, artificiala, and a library
      • The goal was "to manipulate reality, to experiment and invent"
      • "The desire to fabricate worlds"
      • "Many artifacts in the collection represented the world 'ruled in harmony' by the emperor"
    • Eventually, these hybrid collections became "encyclopedic classification systems" which started to "play an increasingly significant role for their interpretation" (127)
    • Eventually in 17th c there are 100s of such collections in Europe, and they eventually are moved from private collections to royal collections to public museums (natural history or art museums)
    • Julius von Schlosser (modern re-inventor of cabinets of curiosity) 1908
    • Some modern artists attempt to use collections to create installations that "mimic museum exhibitions" like Mark Dion. Arrange objects in a way to "defy obvious categories and hierarchies"
  • Purpose of the cabinets of curiosity

    • Brought together items in terms of logic and related them to each other "to represent all the different parts of the existent"
      • Subjective interpretation of the macrocosm
    • Ordering of the materials "represented and demonstrated the knowing of the world"
    • Technologies for ordering the world
    • BOTH the collecting of the materials AND their ordering
  • In art:

    "Artists integrate these formal archival administrative conditions within their aesthetic practice to expose the fragility of canonical epistemological models by exposing the fallibility of archival systems" (131)

    • Andy Warhol's time capsules
    • Marcel Duchamp - Box in a Valise (1941) as a "portable museum"
      • "it is the viewers who make the pictures"
    • Ily Kabakov - The Man Who Never Threw Anything Away (1996)
    • Ily Kabakov - Sixteen Ropes
    • Robert Morris - Card File: July 11-December 31, 1962
      • Cardex file arranged alphabetically indexed cards recording the process involved in making of the work LOL
  • Archivist of the United States: This is an actual position?? (AOTUS)

  • In Social Media!

    • FB, Twitter, Insta, Pinterest
    • Storify - pulls together FB posts and tweets and add context to them. Used a lot in politics now
      • No longer exists
      • Wakelet
      • Adobe Spark
    • sosolimited: art and design company playing with data viz and info design as artistic medium
    • WebBiographers (no longer exists): legacy journaling tool that helps users write up their own life stories as a blog that can be organized as genealogy
    • Social media as a way for users to self-archive and replay data pertaining to their persona lives "often in juxtaposition to those depicting world history"
      • Facebook as a way for users to "leave behind traces that act as digital artifacts" (146) like FB Timeline
    • "Broadly speaking, social media facilitate exhibition and archiving by utilizing sets of photos, lists of status updates, and situational activities like chatting" (146)

    Maybe we should talk of archivists rather than Internet users "as users are increasingly managing their own digital objects and data so as to create what can be described as personal archives" (146)

    • Facebook

      • "Database of users for users" ... each user's page is a "database of their life"

      formidable vehicle for "the propagation of the digital economy, aiming, above all, at creating capital out of knowledge about how we live" (146)

      • "Our obsession with self-archiving through social media" (151)
  • "Archives are what we used to perform our relationships with everything as we continue to search for the yet unlived in and around us. What enters the archive becomes part of the process of our becoming" (152)

  • On social media, "we are all collectors or curators, using archives as sites for exhibition, performance, and replay..." (184)

Ch 6 - (A)live Archives

  • How artists use the BODY as an archive

  • IOT

    • How objects will become their own archive
    • What does memory mean in different contexts?
    • These objects have an increasing active role in shaping the processes of their own production and are capable of creating memory architectures pertinent to their own use
    • They can remember past use, modify themselves to facilitate future use, and store all of the data as well
    • Internet 4.0
    • trackable, leaves a digital footprint, "generates their own documentation"
    • Where the archive is embedded in the artifact (182)
  • George Legrady, An Anecdoted Archive from the Cold War and Pockets Full of Memories

  • Genomic Archive (Henrietta Lacks, for example)....

    • "The genomic archive not only participates in the preservation of our pasts and production of our futures, but also it literally informs exactly what life we will be having. We are our own archive." (170)
  • Archives "act as catalysts for transformation" (182)

  • Historically archives were used as "instruments of colonization" (184)

    • strategies for rewriting of our pasts
    • but new ones are constantly being produced
  • "We always make politics in the archive because we increase our power, individually or collectively, through the control of what is in the archive" ... "IT is where our citizenship in the world is recorded and rewritten" (184)

  • "We embody the archive only in the present. But by embodying the archive, we inhabit our past and adventure into our future" (184)