Archive in Motion (AiM) (completed)
What happens to social memory when an older storage practice encounters a new media culture based on permanent transfer and immediate access?
Detail of Simon Starling’s Wilhelm Noack OHG, 2006. Stainless steel, film projector, 35mm film looped, light, sound. Making Worlds, 53rd Venice Biennale, 2009.
The Archive in Motion investigated the ways in which archival concepts and practices have been transformed under the impact of the radical changes in writing and recording technologies that have taken place over the last century, and particularly with the introduction of digital technologies. Film, video, television, sound recording and computers seem to have instigated a general storage-mania and a proliferation of both public and private archival practices. Yet these technologies also challenge traditional notions of the permanence and stability of the archival document and open onto a whole range of new questions concerning what exactly it means to store information for future use.
The project relied on three research perspectives that we believe may co-inform each other in a fruitful way: First, the heterogeneous field named “social memory studies” and, second, a media archaeological approach that studies the archival aspect of new media technologies in Michel Foucault’s sense of the term (i.e. as the distinct, if fragmentary, material instances of a given historical order). Third, we draw on the emerging field named “media aesthetics”, which focuses on how media change is related to changing conditions of human perception and sensation.
We believe that the integration of these three perspectives is best realized through the study of a series of precisely delimited empirical cases where the modern archive seems to reflect upon itself – i.e. cases where archival practices meet with critical challenges that seem to provoke an intensive activity of archival self-reflection in one form or another.
Cooperation and financing
The three-year research project (2011-2014) was a collaboration between the National Library of Norway, IFIKK – Department of Philosophy, Classics, and History of Art and Ideas at the University of Oslo, IMK – Department of Media Studies at the University of Oslo, and Department of Cinema Studies, Stockholm University. It is financed by The National Library of Norway and The Research Council of Norway.