Archiving

  • Is the relationship existing between many contemporary artworks and digital data influencing the current notion of the archive?
  • In the specific case of digital art, what is the function of the archive? How does it help fostering the development of a work over time?
  • Since the majority of Internet-based works does not have physical properties – i.e. material qualities but, instead, immaterial ones – does archiving coincide with the collecting practice?
  • How can the archive function as an exhibition space?
  • Is there any specific link between the archive and the practice of re-enactment? How does this relate to technology/technological tools?

“I was beginning to suspect that information could be interesting in its own right and need not be visual as in Cubist, etc. art”

John Baldessari, 1969


“Suddenly, information is not merely the reception of knowledge but the reception of the event of receiving, arriving, archiving a radically different exchange – and this above and beyond the techniques of storing and retrieving recorded data by visibly disseminating them. A new visibility emerges – the machine that stands beyond other machines and, in some respects, even beyond human capabilities. The invisible exchange is newly electronic and ecstatic. Paradoxically, the machine too has become a Mitsein. Visibly expressive, we now belong to it in the very event of storing, retrieving, and disseminating recorded knowledge without ever yielding to archivization. Hence, the importance of recasting the in-visible exchange by means of a certain urgent in-between the expressive and the visible, the human and the machine…”

Willem S. Wurzer, ‘Between the Visible and the Expressive: an in-visible exchange’ in Philosophies of the visible, Panorama, 2002, p.viii.


“If one assumes archives to be placed pervaded by power relationships, two types of demands form the prerequisite of the hierarchies manifested within them; firstly, hope for perpetuation of the present by means of recording; and, secondly, striving for the greatest possible completeness. Universal models are reflected in both of these approaches. The resulting link to the past, to that which has been, and the stasis inherent in such a concept of the archive, explain the yearning for its destruction that has been articulated again and again, with different aims, ever since the avant-garde criticised museums in the 20s”

Beatrice von Bismarck et al, interarchive, Buchhandlung Walther König, 2002, p. 417


“Benjamin’s concept of the archive, however, differs from that of the institutionalised archives, whose self-understanding is derived from the origin of the word “archive”. “Archive” stems from the Greek and Latin words for “town hall, ruling office” which, in turn, are derived from “beginning, origin, rule”. Order, efficiency, completeness, and objectivity are the principles of archival work. In contrast to this, Benjamin’s archives reveal the passions of the collector”

Ursula Marx et al, Walter Benjamin’s Archive, Verso, 2007, p.1


“So realising that it’s really problematic for a lot of reasons to archive net-art, we nonetheless thought it was important for somebody to start saving this stuff. Then we realised as we started doing this, that a lot of artists didn’t want us to save copies of their work. In a certain sense, in cloning it and putting a copy on our servers, we were killing it because the work is perhaps! interactive by nature and it evolves over time, or simply that the artists don’t want their work to be frozen. […] Se we decided to have two different types of works archived in the ‘Art-Base’ – linked objects and cloned objects. Linked objects are much as they sound – projects where we just store metadata – information about the work, the title, the URL, the artist’s name, the day it was created, the day that it was archived, key words, categorical information, what technology it uses, a statement by the artist, and the artist’s bio. The cloned objects contain all that and also a copy of the work itself, which can be updated”

Mark Tribe in Sarah Coock, Beryl Graham and Sarah Martin ed. Curating New Media, Third Baltic International Seminar, 10-12 May 2001, Baltic and CRUMB, p.141