The Artist and the Archive

The Artist and the Archive

In the run up to participation in the 2-day Collaborative Workshop / Hackathon / Exploration of creativity using humanities research data in N.U.I.G (titled Collections as Data) I am delving into the world of the archive. I am already aware of the use of the archive both as a method of art practice and as a production of art object, and am also looking into the various methods and debates surrounding 'digital humanities' which, in basic wikipiedia terms is the 'systematic use of digital resources in the humanities, as well as the reflection on their application.'

My own artistic practice has often been more about the mining of data and the presentation of such data as an artistic outcome, than of making something 'good' or 'well' or even 'productive'. The artistic interpretation and presentation of data can open up unique spaces of consideration regardless of a deemed efficacy of interpretation or communication. Perhaps this unique space (I look to my own interest in Basarab Nicolescus 'third space') is a site which might allow those who would not normally look outside the 'norm' to engage with thought process outside of their own discipline.

The 2014 article 'How the Art World Caught Archive Fever' is an easily accessable and well referenced article which lays out some of the histories relating to the archive and art. I am particularly interested in Walid Raad’s collaborative projects with the Atlas Group and the idea of fictional archives. Raad created a website hosting the fictional group’s archives related to the story of contemporary Lebanon. The article tells us that Raads archive "has three distinct sections: files by imaginary people, files by anonymous people, and files by the “group” members themselves. By creating a falsely collaborative archive to achieve his aim’s, Raad raises questions of identity, organization, and collective history." Raad processes and outputs all of his work digitally, thereby adding another layer of documentary intervention to his overarching fictional conceit.(1)

Inciting my interest further vis-a-vis performative outcomes of such work, this eflux article states Raad would present himself as a representative of the Atlas foundation lecturing on and presenting other people’s work from the archive. It then goes on to mention The Archaeology of Knowledge, in which Michel Foucault famously argued that an archive is a discursive system regulating what can and cannot be said in and about any historical period. This is of most interest in relation to the event in N.U.I.G.

Having had a cursory look at some of the digital archives available (here) I am trawling through the external archives (to NUIG). From postcards from the uprising, to digital photoshop images of 444 Dublin Buildings, to prisoners books the amount of information held within the many archives is both fascinating and intimidating. The internal archives have already had me reading the 1775 Richard Twiss travel book A Tour in Ireland, where he decided to miss out the entire of Galway due to the barbarians which inhabited. I am now mining the UCD collections. I will then begin to watch some videos which might help me understand the discipline of Digitial Humanites better.

So while I am doing precursory research both on the archive, art and the archive, digtial archiving, digital humanites etc I am also aware that my interest in the event is not just as a participant, but as an observer in relation to my own research topic and this must be elucidated to the organiser/s and those I may be collaborating with. This gives me an external interest as well as an internal one in the event. My interest in hybrid art practice as a method of pedagogical transdisciplinarity, as well as an artist who seeks to particpate in as many diverse and collaborative projects as possible, gives me much investment in this event. How I am to approach this systematically in order to gain as much insight into such collaborative exchanges as possible is a key issue in achieving any insights as a participant and observer.

My research website is here

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