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Class 8 Notes

Page history last edited by Alan Liu 5 years, 8 months ago


Preliminary Class Business




Readings for Today's Class




0. Visual Epigraph


Amsterdam City Archives entrance  Amsterdam City Archives records  Amsterdam City Archives display




1. Intro to Class


  • The humanities and the sense of history.




  • The "media archaeology" movement (and recent "history of the book" field)




2. Practicums







3. Some Questions


Aboriginal Australia Art and Culture Centre, Alice Springs

"Dreamtime"  footprintsfootprints  "Meaning of the Dreamtime"  footprintsfootprints  "Dreamtime Chart"  footprintsfootprints  "Gallery"


Luciana Duranti, "Archives as a Place" (1996): 243-44

"Thus, the archives was a place of preservation under the jurisdiction of a
public authority.... We can still today look at the Roman Tabularium and understand its
function from its structure. Corridors and enclosed stairs connect the building
to the public offices of Republican Rome, so that the documents can securely
and safely flow from the place of creation to that of preservation. However,
this flow is not a simple transition from one place to another. It is the locus of
recognition and empowerment. Somewhere between the outside and the
inside of the archival building, the documents must unfold into evidence
and memory, prior to being ensconced within the building as testimony of
past actions. There must be a space, an in-between space, where this happens,
a space bound by two limits, one bordering the documents and the other
bordering the evidence: the archii limes or 'archival threshold'. The archival
threshold is the space where the officer of the public authority takes charge
of the documents, identifies them by their provenance and class, associates
them intellectually with those that belong in the same aggregation, and
forwards them to the inside space. At the archival threshold, and beyond it,
the authenticating function took place....
                                                             ... From this moment on the archival
documents and their network of relationships were immutable, as not even
the loss or destruction of some of them could change the relations that their
previous existence had determined among the remaining ones....
      The place of deposit of the archival documents was in the most remote
part of the archival building, completely isolated from the areas of work and
from any possible source of contamination or corruption, and the documents
entering this restricted zone would live forever in their own time of creation,
in their own context, as stable and immutable entities, untouchable by political
or social events, interests, trends, or influences.  Just like the Eastern archival
basements of four millennia ago, accessible only from a hole in the ceiling,
and the Westem stacks of our times, carefully segregated from any space
open to the public, the inner place where the deeds were kept, by its physical
inaccessibility, transformed them in the most authoritative and powerful
testimony of actions.
      Testimony for whom?... The Tabularium contained evidence and memory
of the people for the people. It was a permanent, unforgettable reminder of
whom allegiance is owed to and so is accountability."




What is the relation between "dreaming" and an "archive" (between being "aboriginal" and "archival")?






















Leopold von Ranke, History of the Latin and Teutonic Nations from 1494 to 1514 (1824): Introduction

"At the beginning of his success, not long after the migration of nations had commenced,
Athaulf, King of the Visigoths, conceived the idea of gothicising the
Roman world, and making himself the Caesar of all; he would maintain the Roman
laws. If we understand him aright, he first intended to combine the Romans
of the West (who, though sprung of many and diverse tribes, had, after a union
that had lasted for centuries, at length become one realm and one people) in a
new unity with the Teutonic races. He afterwards despaired of being able to effect
this; but the collective Teutonic nations at last brought it about, and in a still
wider sense than he had dreamed of. It was not long before Lugdunensian Gaul
became not, it is true, a Gothland, but a Lugdunensian Germania. Eventually the
purple of a Caesar passed to the Teutonic races in the person of Charlemagne.
At length these likewise adopted the Roman law. In this combination six great
nations were forned--three in which the Latin element predominated, viz. the
French, the Spanish, and the Italian; and three in which the Teutonic element
was conspicuous, viz. the German, the English, and the Scandinavian.
Each of these six nationalities was again broken up into separate parts; they
never formed one nation, and they were almost always at war among themselves.
Wherein, then, is their unity displayed?"




What is the relation between an "archive" and "history"?






















Michel Foucault, "Nietzsche, Genealogy, History" [PDF] (1967): 86

                              "... The successes of history belong to those
who are capable of seizing these rules, to replace those who had
used them, to disguise themselves so as to pervert them, invert
their meaning, and redirect them against those who had initially
imposed them; controlling this complex mechanism, they will
make it function so as to overcome the rulers through their own
       The isolation of different points of emergence does not conform
to the successive configurations of an identical meaning;
rather, they result from substitutions, displacements, disguised
conquests, and systematic reversals.  If interpretation were the
slow exposure of the meaning hidden in an origin, then only
metaphysics could interpret the development of humanity.
But if interpretation is the violent or surreptitious appropriation of
a system of rules, which in itself has no essential meaning, in
order to impose a direction, to bend it to a new will, to force its
participation in a different game, and to subject it to secondary
rules, then the development of humanity is a series of interpretations."





What is the relation between an "archive," a "history," and (Foucauldian) "genealogy"?





















Aboriginal Dance  Welcome Dance, Gallery of the First Australians, National Museum of Australia (Canberra)


Interactive "Welcome Dance" installation, Gallery of the First Australians, National Museum of Australia (Canberra)
(article about installation [PDF])

Pre-Cuneiform Clay Tokens & Envelopes Clay tokens and envelope 
(Sumeria, Akkadia, & Babylon Cuneiform Writing)






 codex Bible









Edison Gramophone 

Vintage film strips

Konrad Zuses's Z4 computer with film strip program media


(see Andres Burbano, "Between Punched Film and the First Computers: The Work of Konrad Zuse" [2008])






What is the question to ask about the relation between media and time/history?

























What are the features of Internet time?







Other Resources for Discussion






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