Art and the Archive: From Material Object to the Dataset
This seminar will consider the complex interrelationship between artistic practice and “the archive” as a theoretical construct, a practical institution, and a type of collection undergoing substantial change in a digital and social media era. Since the late 1960s, the aesthetic critique of archival practices has been an ever-increasing concern, and much recent scholarship has grappled with this theme. Notably, the last decade has seen a shift from material objects to immaterial data along with corresponding shifts in ways of understanding storage, access, and circulation of and to archival knowledge. This seminar will engage with artistic and theoretical approaches to large volumes of historical (or contemporary) saved information, whether in material or immaterial form, and corresponding questions regarding permanence and impermanence, cultural and experiential value, and evolving dynamics of public and private information. We will look at the implications of preservation and loss within a range of institutions, whether state-run or non-profit (such as a library or a museum), corporate (like Google, Twitter or Instagram today), or individual (such as an attic of memorabilia or a personal hard drive). Throughout, the creative approach to these types of collections—or their disappearance—will be foregrounded.