Boris Groys

UNDER SUSPICION:

A PHENOMENOLOGY OF THE MEDIA

Translated by Carsten Strathausen

Introduction

This book has emerged from the desire to answer the question about the nature of the force that upholds our cultural archives and endows them with their durability—a question that has preoccupied me ever since I published On the New.  Therefore, it might be helpful to clarify the reasons that originally led me to confront this question. In the book On the New I described the “cultural economy”: the exchange that takes place between the archive of cultural values and the profane space outside of this archive. In the archive, things are collected and preserved that are regarded as being significant, relevant, and valuable for a certain culture. All other things that are regarded as being insignificant, irrelevant, and worthless remain in the profane space outside of the archive. Yet the cultural archives change constantly: some things from the profane space are incorporated, while others from the archive’s collection are considered no longer relevant and sorted out. In the book On the New I tried to answer the question which criteria a culture uses when it judges something from the profane sphere to be important and worthy of inclusion in its archives. In particular, I was asking why the archive does not remain self-identical? Why is there constantly something New coming into the archive?

The common answer to this question is well known: important is that which is important for life, for history, for humans–these important things must be included into the archive, because the task of the archive is to represent life outside of the archival space.  Of course, the opinions as to what is important for life and for humans diverge greatly, which is why representation in the archive seems to concern first and foremost the politics of representation that takes place within the larger framework of a battle for recognition. And there is, indeed, a lot of quarrel about what should be represented in the archive, about who is allowed to administer the archive and may decide about its structure. Thus, it appears to be primarily a question of power—a question about the position of power that allows one to decide what is significant, relevant, and worthy of being archived and what is insignificant, irrelevant and should be left out. The discussion about who occupies the archive’s positions of power and that about the inclusions and exclusions allegedly practiced by the people who occupy these positions is, therefore, highly emotional. This is always the case when questions are at issue that are considered to be political, that is, questions about which everyone is not only allowed, but even expected to have his or her own opinion. During such heated discussions, everybody considers something particular to be important and believes that whatever his opponent deems important is actually completely unimportant. And whenever the unimportant seems to triumph nonetheless over the important, then public opinion suspects that secret intrigues, covert exercises of power and, above all, money—lots and lots of money—must be involved.

Having observed this entire spectacle for a while, one cannot but be surprised to finally realize that, in fact, the archive continues to steadily grow– and, actually, do it to everybody’s satisfaction. Hence, the development of the archive seems to follow a logic that, in the end, impinges itself equally strong on everyone involved in this matter. And if somebody is so over-confident in his own position of power with regard to the archive that he begins to act against this logic, he will lose this position quickly enough. There is no absolute position of power in relation to the archives. The archive’s own logic of development always wins out in the end, because the archives collect precisely that which has hitherto not been collected in them. And the so-called “reality” is, at base, nothing but the mere sum of everything that has not yet been collected. Reality is thus nothing primary that awaits representation in the secondary space of the archive. Rather, reality itself is secondary in relation to the archive: it is all that which has been left outside of the archive. My book on the New thus formulated the suspicion that, in fact, the archive does not collect what is important for humans “in reality”—because nobody knows what is important for humans. On the contrary, what is being collected is only what is important to the archive itself.

The historically new, actual, living, and Real cannot be diagnosed other than by comparison to the “dead,” archived, and old. And this means that the function of the archive cannot consist merely in illustrating or representing history or in holding fast to the memories of history the way in which this history took place “in reality.” Rather, the archive constitutes the prerequisite for something like history to emerge in the first place, because only if the archive is already there are we able to compare the new to the old–and it is this comparison that produces history proper. The archive is a machine for the production of memories, a machine that fabricates history out of the material of non-collected reality. And this production process has its own laws that must be heeded by all participants. For example, if a religious orthodoxy fights some blasphemous teachings “in real life” with all of its power, then it is forced to repeat these teachings in its own archive in order to be able to tell the story of its own genesis and ultimate success.

Thus, there exists an inner contradiction that characterizes the cultural archive and produces its dynamic. On the one hand, the archive is charged with pursuing completion: it is supposed to collect and represent whatever remains outside of this archive. On the other hand, however, things in the archive have a radically different fate than the profane things outside the archive: archived things are regarded as valuable and worthy of preservation, whereas the demise, the mortality, and the finiteness of all profane things is accepted without hesitation. Thus, there exists a deep difference between things in the archive and things outside the archive, which undermines any claim of representation from the very beginning–a difference with regard to value, fate, and things’ relation to decay, annihilation, and death. If we were to assume, for instance, that the pictures collected in the museum are meant to represent the world outside the museum, we would quickly notice that the opposite is true, namely that these pictures are located in the museum precisely because public opinion considers them flatteringly different from other things in the world—because they were painted particularly well by particularly talented painters, or because they are framed particularly well or because they cost a particularly huge amount of money. That is the reason why the entire museum-culture tries to prevent the loss of these pictures. Nobody, on the other hand, attempts to prevent the loss of the worldly things represented in these pictures. People try to rescue a picture on which a cow is depicted particularly well, yet the fate of the cow itself is of interest to nobody. And that is to say that the archive cannot depict or represent that which essentially defines reality as such, namely its finiteness, its mortality. Even art that seeks to stage its own finiteness in the halls of the museum will be documented, archived, and preserved.

Nonetheless, the demand for completion forces the archive to continue searching for the Real, that is, for the Transient, the Actual, and the Inconspicuous. At first, this search proceeds along the criteria of formal differentiation: we primarily collect that which testifies to its “reality” by appearing to be different, on a formal level, from what has already been collected previously. But formal distinctiveness is insufficient to produce the New. For the archive, the newness of a profane thing consist not only in its distinctiveness, but most importantly in its ability to represent the entire profane reality outside the archive, at least for a limited period of time—and thus to suggest that the demand for completion has been met. The archive as a whole does not represent reality; only the New within the archive does. It does so precisely by keeping, for a certain time, the aura of finiteness, of mortality, which refers to the fate of all that is real. It is due to this aura of mortality that the New seems able to represent the whole of the transient reality—up to the moment until its own prolonged presence in the archive and its all too remarkable longevity render this erstwhile aura of mortality incredible and thus destroy it.

Everybody is familiar with the example of Duchamp’s readymades [English in the original]. In spite of their small number, these readymades became so convincingly successful because they evoked the entire world of modern everyday life that art had overlooked until then. Likewise, Marx considered the proletariat as the representative of true humanity precisely because the proletariat had hitherto been overlooked by the cultural archives. Similarly, Freud described a few dreams of a few neurotics as the manifestation of the hidden reality of the unconscious. Numerous other examples could be added at will. It follows that the value of a new thing, of a new image or a new text in the archive is a function of its worthlessness in everyday reality. The less valuable and enduring—the more profane—a thing of reality is, the more it is able to represent the common worthlessness of the world inside the archive, and the more representational value is given to this profane thing in the archive. The creation of the New thus proceeds by means of combining formal difference and profane worthlessness. The formal difference enables us to distinguish the selected and newly admitted thing in the archive from all other, previously collected archival things. And the profane worthlessness allows us not to distinguish this thing from all other profane things, which is how the newly included item can be elevated to become a representative of all of reality.

It should be noted that the tension that is produced by this value difference is not dialectical in nature, because it never leads to a synthesis, that is, to a Thing that would be both absolutely important and absolutely unimportant, absolutely eternal and absolutely transient at the same time. Rather, this tension provides the frame for the cultural economy of the New, which keeps expanding continuously. The new thing in the archive is new not least because it renews and corroborates the demand for completion in the archive. Due to its worthlessness and its unimportance, the new thing in the archive gets the chance for a while to represent within the archive the entire infinite, worthless, profane world. This gives rise to the glamour, the charisma, the seductive power of the New—it is the glamour of infinity. For a while, the new thing seems to render visible the infinity of the world within the finite space of the archive. Yet the right for such a representation of infinity must be gained through a vigorous competition in worthlessness. This competition is familiar to us primarily as the history of modern art, where the winner is he who, in the most radical fashion, robs the artwork of its external importance and relevance and thus endows it with the greatest possible representational value. Yet the same mechanisms of innovation are active in all areas of modern culture.

As mentioned earlier, the experience of infinity emerges only in cases where the extra-cultural realm is represented within the cultural archives. The archives themselves are finite, obviously. And although the extra-cultural realm of reality is vast, it is not infinite either. This fact, alas, is all too often overlooked, which leads people to assume that in order to discover the infinite dimension of life, it would suffice to break out of the confinement of archives, institutions, high culture, libraries, and museums. But “real life” is precisely the place of finitude, transience, mortality—and thus essentially the place of all that is unimportant and uninteresting. Even the shortest visit in the worst museum of the world is a thousand times more interesting that anything one gets to see during a long life in so-called reality. One can only have the experience of infinity inside the archives of high culture, much like Goethe’s Faust had such an experience in the library only to loose it again later in real life. The effect of infinity is an entirely artificial effect generated by the representation of the external within the internal. Neither the external nor the internal as such are infinite. It is only through the representation of the external within the internal that the dream of infinity is generated—and this dream alone is, in fact, infinite.

However, the aura of infinity bestowed upon the new thing in the archive does not last forever. Someday, this thing will be unveiled as yet another—important, valuable, but nonetheless finite—archive item. Then the time is ripe for the arrival of the new New, for a new ceremony of bestowing archival value upon the new representation of profane worthlessness. At this point, however, I would like to interrupt the description of the mechanism of cultural innovation, which I have detailed in the book On the New. For I have already said enough to spell out the question that has preoccupied me ever since I finished that book. It is fairly obvious that the economy of the New presupposes a secure, stabile distinction between the archive of valuable culture and the extra-cultural, profane space. This distinction must endure so that the economy of cultural innovation may thrive, which is to say: so that this distinction can continuously be undermined, deconstructed, and rendered indistinguishable. To conduct its operations, the cultural economy, like any other economy, needs, above all, time. In the case of the cultural economy, this time is the time of the archive: cultural innovation remains possible for as long as the archive is secure and persists. But what provides the guarantee that the archive will, indeed, persist? From where hails the time of the archive? How is the cultural economy provided with the time it needs to function? All of these questions culminate in a single one, namely that regarding the temporal stability of the archive. How is the archive sustained and secured–and what is able to guarantee that it will be sustained over longer periods of time? The archive, in other words, is fundamentally under suspicion of being unsecured. And, evidently, this suspicion can be weakened only if one is permitted insight into the nature of the medium that sustains the archive. So the question can be reformulated thus: What medium sustains the archive—and for how long?

Naturally, this question emerges by no means solely in the context of my own investigations. As in the case of the New, it seems, at first glance, that we are primarily dealing with a highly relevant political question. For according to public opinion, it is ultimately society that sustains the cultural archives and decides about how long they last. The continuance of archives is thought to depend upon the money, the labor and the technical know-how [English in the original] society provides for the investment necessary to preserve the archives. Yet, today’s socially dominating discourse does not appear to be particularly supportive of the archive. There are calls from all sides to bid farewell to the sterility of cultural archives and instead to start communicating, at last, here and now. These days, everything is supposed to flow, to morph incessantly from one form into another, to loose all identity, to become undistinguishable, multi-medial and interactive. The biggest prize goes to whoever is able to de-center, dissolve and liquefy himself most rapidly and most radically, because then he is perceived as being both market compatible and critical of the System. Naturally, one may protest against this current atmosphere for nostalgic reasons. And who knows, maybe such protests may prove effective one day. Yet, such a discursive turn would play neither a positive nor a negative role for the theory of the New, because the theory of the New seeks to describe, among other things, precisely the change of intellectual fashions, which is why it cannot become dependent upon one specific fashion. Even the fashion to decentralize and liquefy oneself should therefore be welcomed and described by the theory of the New, because this fashion, too, is being archived as something new—due, once again, to the longing of the archives for the infinity of life, which, however, only emerges in the archive in the first place, as mentioned earlier.

Yet, like any other human passion, the longing for infinity is instable. True, this longing, once it emerges, can be satisfied by means of innovation within the archive. But it is incapable of sustaining the archive as an institution. In the West, of course, the term culture has de facto been synonymous with that of Romanticism from the beginning of the 19th century until this present day. And Romanticism, as we know, supposes that man [der Mensch] has an ineradicable desire for infinity that is inherent in human nature—a longing that can never be satisfied by the finite. This inherent desire for infinity was ultimately understood as the carrier of the cultural archives, which contain those values that emerge from the passion for the high and noble and that provide an alternative to the prosaic, daily, market-oriented life. But institutions can generally not be built upon passions—and there is even less of a chance to secure them permanently through passions. Moreover, terms like passion, longing, desire can easily be translated into the term “demand” and thus integrated into the market economy. Yet if the cultural archives must be sustained by the demand for infinity, then we may bid them farewell right away. Today’s people have apparently no—or at least only a very slim—demand for infinity. They are usually content with the finite. And this contentment with the finite cannot be attacked using moral arguments. It is pointless to ask society or the state to secure the cultural archives if the demand for infinity is lacking. All other cultural demands that are being directed at the archives, however, are more easily satisfied by the fluid mass culture that continues to expand beyond the archives and can be communicated here and now. Thus, the quite legitimate demands for a better cultural representation of minorities or for a permanent social presence of particular historical memories are primarily being directed at the mass media television, film-industry, or advertisements, which indeed are able to satisfy them most effectively in the end.

By the way, we can also not expect much support for the cultural archives from ideologies and cultural tides that are critical of the market. It is highly indicative that progressive critical theory today, unlike in previous times, no longer charges the market with thinking only in finite temporal terms while ignoring the infinite, “inner” values. Quite the contrary, such a progressive critique even considers the short-term economic plans that are necessary for the market to function as still too optimistic. Today’s critical theory does not rely on the surplus of time, but presupposes the scarcity of time—and thus argues in the name of the unstable, the fluid, the uncontrollable, and that which evades our grasp. Time is thus being interpreted as a finite event that jeopardizes every plan, every economic rationality, every market calculation. Today’s critical theory juxtaposes the finite (yet nonetheless still enduring) time of the market and industrial production with a far more radical, catastrophic, apocalyptic scarcity of time—and with the messianic demand, born of this scarcity, for an immediate and all-comprehensive consumption. Obviously, such an understanding of time is particularly unfavorable for the archives.

However, we may wonder to what degree a society as such can be interpreted as the ultimate carrier of the archives. No society, regardless of the politics it endorses, can prevent, for example, the destruction of archival values due to natural catastrophes or wars. On the other hand, however, archival things may outlast the societies that produced them: thus, archaeology creates the possibility to study artworks that have been preserved by nature and not by society. Hence, the question regarding the ultimate carrier of the archive cannot be answered quite as easily as it may appear at first glance—and this, in return, renders uncertain the continuance of the archive. For Plato, the divine archive of ideas was indestructible. Likewise, for a Christian, the archive of divine memory that stores the traces of the merits and sins of every single person, is indestructible.  But modernity, too, repeatedly gives rise to teachings that interpret the archive as indestructible. Thus, Freudian psychoanalysis describes the unconscious as the medium of an indestructible archive: each process of forgetting and repression only serves to engrave this archive deeper and deeper into the unconscious. Many structuralist theories describe language, too, as an indestructible archive, since they consider language to precede all speech acts and practical actions including all acts of destruction. Thus, the question about the continuance of the archive is above all the question about the medial carrier of this archive. The determination regarding the continuance of the archive depends upon whether this medial carrier is, say, God, nature, language, the unconscious, or the internet.

Yet the carrier of the archive remains constitutively hidden behind the archive and thus inaccessible to direct contemplation. One often considers the medial carriers of the archive to be the technical means of data-storage like paper, film, or the computer. But these technical means are themselves things in the archive; behind them, we find yet other and diverse production processes, electrical networks, and economic procedures. And what hides behind these networks and processes? The answers become increasingly vague: history, nature, substance, reason, desire, the course of events, chance, subject. Hence, behind the sign surface of the archive we may suspect a dark, submedial space in which receding hierarchies of sign carriers descend into dark, opaque depths. This dark, submedial space constitutes the other [das Andere] of the archive, albeit another other compared to the profane space outside the archive about which I spoke in the context of the economy of the New.

At first glance, the sign carriers of the archive are topographically located within the archival space—like books in a library, canvases in a picture gallery or video-gadgets and computers in a video-installation. But this impression is deceptive. Books are not part of the archive, but texts are; not canvasses, but paintings; not video-gadgets, but moving images. The carriers of the archive do not belong to the archive, because they remain hidden behind the medial surface of signs they offer to the observer of the archive. Or, put differently: the carrier of the archive does not belong to the archive, because although it sustains archival signs, it is not an archival sign itself. Much like the profane space, the carrier of the archive constitutes the outside of the archive. Thus, the archive not only has one, but two different external spaces. First, there is the space of all profane, non-archived signs—the relation between the archive and this profane space is being regulated by the cultural economy of the New as outlined above. And second, there is the carrier of the archive—the complicated hierarchy of sign carriers that sustain archival signs on several levels.

However, there is a fundamental difference between these two external spaces of the archive. The profane space readily presents itself to the gaze of the observer so that the things of life can always be compared to the archival things. By contrast, the carriers of the signs remain hidden behind the very signs they sustain. The carrier of the archive is constitutively hidden from the gaze of the observer. The observer only sees the medial surface of archival signs, whereas the medial carrier behind this surface can only be surmised by him. The relation of the viewer to the submedial space of the carrier is thus essentially a relation of suspicion—a necessarily paranoid relationship.

This is why the observer develops the desire to know what is “really” concealed behind the medial surface of signs—a media-theoretical, ontological, metaphysical desire. No doubt, the question concerning the media-carrier is nothing but a new formulation of the old ontological question about the substance, the essence, or the subject that might potentially be hidden behind the image of the world. In so far as it must confront the question of the media carrier, media theory is thus nothing other than a continuation of ontology under the new conditions of contemplating the world. Classical ontology seeks to know what is hiding behind the world of appearances. Media-ontology seeks to know what is hiding behind medial signs—precisely in cases where these signs, much like their sign-carriers, are not “natural,” but “artificial.” Obviously, we may now ask whether it makes sense to inquire about the artificial sign-carriers in such a media-ontological manner, given that we always already know how these carriers are being produced, what technical characteristics they possess and how they function. A similar objection is raised, by the way, when one insists that modern science has already studied nature to such a degree that we already know how the “inside” of nature looks like, meaning that the traditional ontological question is rendered superfluous. Both the classical-ontological and the media-ontological question are thus being replaced by a scientistic-technological investigation.

Yet the scientistic argument confuses the two different external spaces of the archive: the profane space outside the archive and the submedial space behind the surface of the archive. Artificially constructed sign carriers like books, canvasses, computers, or video-tapes exist for us in an evidently enough manner only in profane space—however, we can only surmise them in submedial space. When we see a painting in a gallery, we do not see the canvas that sustains this painting. In order to see the canvas, we have to turn the painting around, that is, we have to leave the realm of the archive behind. If we want to examine what a TV or a computer look like inside and how they function, we have to first turn off these apparatus and also extinguish the pictures sustained by these apparatus. And this means: neither the canvas nor the media apparatus are ever accessible to us as media carriers. They are only accessible to us precisely when they no longer function as media carriers, but present themselves as nothing more than things that belong to the profane world outside—at which point the question again arises as to which sign carriers sustain and present these apparatus in return. The profane and the submedial space are thus incompatible with one another. We can either observe the signs and the things themselves—or we can ask about their carriers. Hence, the simple identification of the profane with the submedial space, upon which the scientistic-technical view is based, cannot be sustained.

This is why the submedial space necessarily remains for us the dark space of suspicion, speculations, and apprehensions—but also that of sudden epiphanies and cogent insights. Indeed, we inevitably suspect manipulation, conspiracy, and intrigue lurking behind the surface of signs presented by public archives and the media. This aptly demonstrates what kind of answer one expects to hear in response to the media-ontological question, and the nature of this answer has nothing to do with any kind of scientific description. Rather, the observer of the medial surface hopes that the dark, hidden, submedial space at some point reveals, betrays, divulges itself for what it is. The observer of the medial surface is waiting for a voluntary or coerced sincerity of the submedial space. At issue is another truth of the signs, one that differs from the referential truth reflecting the relation of signs to the objects they signify. At issue is not the truth of signification, but the truth of the medial. Every sign signifies something and refers to something. But at the same time, every sign also conceals something. And it is not the absence of the signified object that is concealed, as it was time and again claimed, but simply a piece of the medial surface that is being materially, medially, occupied by this sign. Every sign blocks the view upon the medial carrier that sustains this sign. The medial truth of the sign becomes apparent only when this sign is being eliminated and put aside, thereby allowing insight into the nature of the carrier. To experience the medial truth of a sign is tantamount to eliminating and putting aside this sign—to brush it off from the medial surface like a speck of dirt.

The media-ontological quest strives for a clearing, for an empty spot, an interval of the sign layer that covers the entire medial surface; it strives for an unmasking, uncovering, unconcealment of the medial surface. Or, put differently: the observer of the medial surface waits for the medium to become the message, for the carrier to become the sign. However, we can surely say that no revelation of the concealed, no media-ontological insight, no act of sincerity on behalf of the carrier will eradicate the original suspicion once and for all. For the submedial space is originally defined as the space of the media-ontological suspicion; hence it becomes immediately apparent that this suspicion cannot be invalidated or eradicated in definitive terms. Yet this still does not mean that the waiting for the event of submedial sincerity must be in vain. For the effect of sincerity emerges precisely at the moment when the media-ontological suspicion appears to be validated, that is, when the observer receives a hint about the fact that the submedial interior is indeed structured differently than the medial surface. When that happens, the observer gets the impression that he has finally discovered an empty spot on the medial surface and thus gained insight into submedial space—which also serves to confirm his suppositions and anxieties. The insight into submedial space thus only appears credible when it reflects the original media-ontological suspicion: for a suspicious gaze only its very own reflection appears sufficiently convincing. Hence, the task of media theory does not consist in demonstrating that the observer errs yet again at this point, because that only serves to repeat the figure of suspicion once more. Both the media-ontological suspicion and its self-reflections in submedial space can neither be confirmed nor disproven. Instead, another question emerges at this point. Why, how, and under what conditions does such a self-reflection of the media-ontological suspicion appear convincing to the observer? Or, to put this question differently: how does the effect of sincerity, of medial truth, of (self)-exposure of the medial emerge?

The larger part of this book is dedicated to a more detailed analysis of this effect. At this point, we shall, therefore, only hint briefly at the strategy for such an analysis. It consists of a search for those signs that give the observer the impression to be authentic messages of the medium, that is to say, messages of suspicion itself. Yet similar to cases of innovation, such signs can only function for a relatively brief time as an empty spot able to provide insight into submedial space. Soon thereafter, they will once again be regarded as “usual” signs that instead obstruct and disable our look into the submedial. Hence, we are dealing with the same economy in both the case of the medial and that of innovation. And what is more: both economies are intertwined in numerous ways. In both cases we are dealing with the creation of an effect of infinitude that only lasts for a brief moment but then can reemerge through another sign. With regard to mediality, however, the issue is not the infinitude of the presumed reality outside the archive, but rather the dark, concealed infinitude of the archive-carrier. As mentioned earlier, the archive-carrier is characterized in particular by the fact that it bestows durability upon the signs of the archive. Which is to say that the observer can gain knowledge about the continuance of the archive only through gaining insight into submedial space, that is, through a message of suspicion.

In the last instance, then, the archive is sustained by suspicion itself —indeed the very same media-ontological suspicion that threatens to undermine this archive. And since the media-ontological suspicion is infinite–because it cannot be invalidated once and for all by any insight into the inside of the archive–the medium suspicion opens up a potentially infinite temporal perspective for the archive. Western modernity in particular is traditionally being described as the age of suspicion that serves to undermine all previous values, traditions, and certainties, which is why people again and again have tried to protect these traditional values from suspicion by giving them a “firm foundation.” But it is far from accidental that the age of modernity is also the age of archivization par excellence. While modernity, on the one hand, destroyed all traditional foundations because all of them turned out to be too finite, too instable, and too fragile, modernity, on the other hand, also provided a much more stable foundation for cultural values—namely suspicion as such. Indeed, suspicion can never be invalidated, eradicated or undermined, because suspicion is constitutive for the observation of the medial surface: everything that presents itself automatically renders itself suspect—and suspicion carries on [trägt] by allowing us to presume that hidden behind everything we see is something invisible that functions as the medium of the visible. Thus, suspicion does not just ruin traditional foundations, but also replaces them with new foundations. Suspicion constantly transcribes old signs onto new media—this is why it is the medium of all other media, so to speak. These transcriptions from one medium onto another medium follow the economy of suspicion as described in the following pages.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


About

Archive Public
A research art project.

Within the flexible limits of archival art today, Archive Public practices archival art as intervention in public space, questioning the dominant hegemony and allowing for possibilities of solidarity actions. It aspires to the creation of a broader productive collaboration network triggered by two theoretical research assumptions and an open body of works which tries out archival interventions in conflicting urban situations, in Patras and other european cities.

The first phase of the work developed theoretical propositions and art projects in Patras, Greece. It was realized with the support of the C. Carathéodory research program at the University of Patras. An edited volume, Archive Public. Performing Archives in Public Art. Τοpical Interpositions, documents this first phase of the project, and is available from Cube Art Editions.

The book includes theoretical hypotheses on archival practice in contemporary art, art works that were specifically created for the project, as well as an anthology of essays by contemporary thinkers who elaborate on particular issues of the archive in relation to the public sphere and theories of democracy, the notions of institution and instituting practice, interventions in the shifting urban condition, the philosophy and archaeology of media as well as the global flows of migration and media. Interventions focus on the urban and social condition of Patras, as it is influenced by a translocal dynamics which produces interrelations with other localities.

Participating artists: Yota Ioannidou, Maria Konti, Gregorios Pharmakis, Lina Theodorou, Stefanos Tsivopoulos, Vangelis Vlahos and Nayia Yiakoumaki.
Texts by Arjun Appadurai, Ioannis Chorianopoulos, Wolfgang Ernst, Boris Groys, Elpida Karaba, Panos Kouros, Oliver Marchart, Gerald Raunig and Saskia Sassen.

///////////////////
This multiuser weblog has been set as a working, exhibition and archival platform for the participants, to actuate different forms of collaboration. We plan to bring together theoreticians and practitioners from different cities and localities who are working on similar issues of archiving and intervention in the public sphere. We are seeking projects and theoretical works relevant to the Archive Public topics, as well as feedback texts responding to the art projects as they develop.

To submit a text or a project, please write at archivepublic{at}upatras{dot}gr

Panos Kouros-Elpida Karaba


%d bloggers like this: