Week 4: Assemblages and Archives

The archivization produces as much as it records the event.

What’s the first thing you think of when someone mentions archives? Old dusty libraries? Ancient tomes and books? Shelves upon shelves of old, long forgotten paperwork?

Well let’s take it a step further. Think of video rental stores. Credit card histories. What about internet histories? Your Facebook? This blog?

Everything I’ve mentioned can be interpreted as an archive. They all store information in a way that allows for retrieval of it later. We all know that archives can be kept to store and records information, so what does it mean for an archive to produce?

Let’s focus on the newer forms of self-publishing that are now available to us. I’m talking about things like Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr and of course, WordPress just to name a few.  These are all platforms that allow us to create archives of events and ideas, platforms and websites that allow us to create an archive without even meaning to.

For what purpose? And how does this archivization affect us?

First let us look at why people may create an account on such websites. Let’s take the examples of blogs. For what purposes do blogs exist? Why do people create and maintain a blog? Some are created revolving around a certain interest and aim to share techniques, document personal progress or to get involved in a certain community. Others could be a collection of thoughts, such as a personal journal, or reflective writing as this blog is. Maintenance of a blog could range anywhere from a constant stream of updates to ‘wait, I still have that?’.

For example, someone created a blog to upload their art onto is creating an archive of their work. Through this archive they document their improvements over time as well as spot flaws in their work. By documenting change (the progression of the art) the archive has also created change (in the creator). This archive would also create a showcase which they could share to the public as a gallery or as a portfolio. Viewers may be inspired and strive to improve their own skills or a potential client contacts the creator for work.

An archive is a documentation of the past, but also of possible actions in the present future. (cite) In the example of an art portfolio, it shows what work the creator has made already as well as the quality of work that they could make in future. Another example would be a business report. If there is a rise in sales around a certain time or event, the owner of the business could try to predict sales around the same time or re-create the event or circumstances to encourage sales to grow.

We can see that archives serve not only as a collection of the past but also as something that can create change.


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