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Title: Between light and dark archiving
Authors: Dekker, Annet
Keywords: online
Issue Date: 17-Oct-2017
Abstract: Some people argue that the digital archive is an oxymoron (Laermans and Gielen 2007) or that it is more akin to an anarchive (Ernst 2002, Zielinski 2014). Derrida mentioned the word anarchive to signal that ‘what remains unvanquished remains associated with the anarchiv.’ Ernst relates this notion to the digital archive and describes how the anarchive is something that cannot be ordered or catalogued because it is constantly re-used, circulated, expanding and dynamic, and is thus only a metaphorical archive (Ernst 2002). Similarly, Foster describes how the ‘anarchival’ is about obscure traces rather than absolute origins, emphasising the incomplete which may offer openings to new interpretation, projects or documents, or ‘points of departure’ as mentioned by Foster (Foster 2004). These various descriptions implicate that digital archives, and in particular Web-based archives, function less as a storage space and more as a recycling centre in which the material (the archival document, if one can still use this term) is dynamic. In other words, as many of these media theoreticians and critics argue, the default of the digital archive is re-use instead of storage, circulation rather than centrally organised memory, and enduring change versus stasis. This beckons the question how to capture and retrieve all this data, information and documents that are ‘archived’ on the Web? In the presentation I will pay attention to works by, among others, Erica Scourti, Template, Pages and Olia Lialina, who in various ways explore the challenges of archiving and archival systems on the Web. In the process answering the question how the transformation of the archive into a networked device is changing how archives are curated, experienced and preserved. Arguing that it’s between ‘light’ and ‘dark’ archiving that new potentials can be found.
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