Data/Archive/Infrastructure Final Projects

Here’s what we did this semester:

Alyssa wrote a research paper about the challenges of conserving digital art — and particularly the ethics of savings things that are meant to be ephemeral.

Brittany, inspired by the work of Lynn Spigel, studied archives of mid-century women’s magazines to better understand the place of the television in the home — and then, inspired by the cabinet of curiosities, she created a diorama to model the “habitat” of the tv room.

Cristina created a gorgeous short documentary that examines the cemetery as a space of organizing and preserving the dead. She juxtaposes bottom-up images from the cemetery grounds with aerial imagery of old burial sites since absorbed into the urban fabric.

Ding explored the concept of mono no aware, the pathos of things, by using Markov chains and bots to “animate the archive.”

Elena, who’s long studied abusive commentary on female gamers’ YouTube play, decided to collect and call attention to that discourse by “elevating” it to a museological object. She created an interactive exhibition of online harassment, along with an audio guide and exhibition catalog.

Emil is studying the history of the progress bar and how we understand machine time.

Julianna wrote a fabulous research paper on archives of endangered languages — particularly the Filipino script known as baybayin.

Kenneth built an online “archive” documenting the work of Singaporean locative/performance artist collective, who were engaging with the geography and infrastructure of the Internet in the early 2000s — long before most of us were aware that “the Internet is a place.” Flat.Spaces includes an original interview with Charles Lim and an essay in which Kenneth rewrites into art history by considering the geographical specificity of Singapore and its place within global Internet infrastructures.

Kristin considered means of archiving the self — the mind and the body — by studying Martine Rothblatt’s LifeNaut and Cyberev’s enterprises, which allow users to create and preserve “mindfiles.”

LoriBeth wondered how we might get high-school aged students more interested in primary documents and the ways in which archival material helps us construct our histories and epistemologies. So, she prototyped a apocalyptic video game that encourages users to save our cultural heritage.

Maris, who’s an exhibition photographer, wrote an excellent research paper in which she examined the work of Giorgio di Chirico, who created “false originals” of his own work and and thus obfuscated their provenance, and how di Chirico informed the work of Andy Warhol, who was known for serial production.

Natalie — a composer / poet / programmer — experimented with scripts, textual corpora, and bibliographic conventions. She built a fantastic computational (re-composition) “archive” based on a corpus of epic poetry. And here’s a fascinating text introducing her new script animator and a sound work, what it feels like.

And Shonda examined the place of the black body in the archive, focusing in particular on how melanin is represented in both oral culture and medical literature.





Failure to Care; Digital Social Media

The Digital Social Media; Failure to Care video intrigued me because I am also interested in preserving blackness and black culture while confronting archival digitization for future generations. Particularly for marginalized people,  social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram are proving to be a challenge.

Digital Archiving has proven to be a complicated nonlinear process that has many inter-tangled issues that drastically effect preservation dynamics for people of color and other marginalized communities.

Bergis Jules and his panel all make key points concerning the future of protecting, accessing and controlling the process of archival reporting and documenting Black culture. One particular statement that made me more curious about protecting the records of black contributors was how individuals have a right to not be included. Black people’s language and cultural traditions both spoken and unspoken, is often overlooked within the colonial background of exclusion and erasure from the historical record. People of color who are activist, artist and controversial figures are often targeted and eradicated.

One example the panel used was the murder of Korin Gaines, who recorded her illegal home invasion by police on Facebook.  She was shot and killed in front of her child. Facebook allowed police to sensor and remove her record of proof of what was occurring in that moment. Another case the panel mentioned was Philando Castille who was murdered by police while in his vehicle with his child and girlfriend present. His girlfriend used Facebook live as proof and protection of the ‘record’- that her boyfriend was not a criminal or was never guilty of any crime. She also used this record to describe context as the incident unfolded, only to be silenced later.

Stories such as these occur often among black and brown communities and are what make it obvious that black culture must take on the task to set their own records straight. Black culture and it’s “failure of care” for itself is very concerning and alarming. Though there are efforts to correct and address the concerns of exclusion, there is no sense of urgency. I agree that marginalized communities and their erased or silenced histories must be revisited and recreated for the digital age.  The work to be done is not so much for a white centered validation within the archive but for their own historical record and web archival approach.

Risks that people of color take to share their stories, art or ideas is daunting. Examples include the Coin-tel program created by the FBI to surveillance The Black Panther Party on the 1960s or the numerous assassination attempts on black leaders whose life work was to liberate and free people of color.   When it comes to black cultures documenting and reporting misconduct by police or government practices it becomes a dangerous and deadly task. The “white space” of web archives, as one speaker suggests, shed light as to how this is very intimidating practice is not taken into account when preserving narratives and history surrounding black people.

Does digital archiving for under-represented communities become this daunting task that nobody wants to do?  How do we listen to these voices of desperation and frustration; and single out what is important to the digital archival of blackness and what to leave out of the archive of blackness- for protection.

Building Community Archives in the Digital Age

In the post “Confronting Our Failed Care Around the Legacies of Marginalized People in the Archives,” Bergis Jules brought up a brilliant critique that sounds Macluhan-esque and yet also sharp and foreboding: “Because for digital collections, who gets represented is closely tied to who writes the software, who builds the tools, who produces the technical standards, and who provides the funding or other resources for that work.”

Building an archive often involves (or even requires) the bureaucratic backing of an established institution via funds and resources granted for such projects. As we have learned from our visit to the Morgan Library and to the New York City Public Library, for example, many library and archival collections were once part of the private possessions of the wealthiest and most influential families during the Gilded Age. The heads of those families were instrumental in obtaining precious items from archaeological expeditions and rare books that they strongly believed were important to preserve for posterity, thus creating and leaving behind their own legacy while lifting up their own social status. Much of what was selected for preservation relied heavily upon those patriarchs’ tastes, interests, and inclinations. And to be frank, their inclinations mostly arose from a desire to appear authoritative, prosperous, classically educated, and “cultured” among their immediate social circles. Oddly enough in trying to appear “cultured,” the history and legacy of other cultures faded into the background or got pushed to the margins.

We can’t really blame JP Morgan or John Jacob Astor for this, as they did value enriching and educating the public by donating their collections of books and artifacts. But we are still missing out on the stories and histories that aren’t there on the shelves, or which still need further research to refine our knowledge of those marginalized cultures. Even typing the word “marginalized” makes me feel uncomfortable and political in acknowledging that ethnic cultures such as my own and that of countless others either didn’t make it or just barely made it to the center of the page, thanks to colonialism and imperialist systems that were in place to stamp out and suppress that which seems native or not part of Eurocentric Judeo-Christian standards.

Even today as we develop and enhance our preservation practices to create, manage, and maintain digital archives, I would argue that there is a priority list of topics and cultures that are already well-researched and well-funded, and the order of priority is based on how many grants were given, from most to least. But instead of relying so heavily upon the government and established institutions to get marginalized groups’ cultural histories on the record and finally to the forefront, Jules provides us with a solution that is practical and also fosters growth: community archiving. “The evidence is abundant that people other than white men contributed to building this country,” Jules stated. “There is a lesson here for archivists about making sure our collections are about confronting truth and being comfortable about acknowledging the complexity of our history.”

Why wait for “the man” when we can build these archives ourselves by pooling our own resources, collections, oral histories, and cultural knowledge? Who better to fill in the gaps of history than us? We have the tools and the technical standards. There is bound to be someone who is well-versed in code who can develop the software, and someone trained in archiving. We can devise a series of social media and marketing campaigns to not only fundraise, but more importantly raise awareness about the issues that we find significant, pressing, and relevant to marginalized cultures. As Jules proposed, it’s time to move away from the practices of “institutionalized dehumanization” and place people of color at the forefront of telling their own ancestral and cultural histories.

The Library v The Archive


Reading the interview with Kate Eichhorns where she discusses the scope of feminists movements use of the archive and written materials and how the shifting approach towards ephemerality in these materials as the movements conditions changed was fascinating to me.

That at the beginning of the first wave of feminism most of the materials were so ephemeral both to the movement and the public that an archive wasn’t started until well after is indicative to me of what the various movements understanding of the permanence of their actions and their control over their own narrative was at the time. And later in the second wave where Eichhorn talks of the intention of small presses and zines intently having smaller distribution since “reaching an audience with shared political goals was often more important for these women than reaching a mass audience”. That  the ability to accumulate materials and control these materials in itself was representative of a working goal of the movement makes the archive appear much more inherently political.

Archives holding the ability to provide future context to the ‘blind spots’ that marginalized groups encounter in their times from lack of access or funding to publishing or other channels of getting information out shifted the lens of how I had been thinking about the act of creating and maintaining archives.

Eichhorn also stated that ‘the library and archive are active in the production of a somewhat different regime of truth’, libraries representative of information that navigated through social channels and was able to get published, and archives holding the unpublished materials.

This makes me think of the archive as more of a treasure map or collection of unanswered clues to future queries, where contrasted with the published or ‘library’ version of accounts, one can see what ultimately the material representation in an archive is indicative of; what the people making it were working against, since the published account would be the version of truth that the public (or at least the publishers segment) had accepted as one, whereas the archive material didn’t have that cultural traction yet.

This is substantiated by Elvia Arroyo-Ramirez’s discussion of the accents on the language in his work on the Argentine Dirty War; the computer programs hadn’t been programmed to accommodate an accurate conveyance of the names or information of the victims, because this wasn’t important to them. The advice he ran into from the coders or ‘mainstream’ to just alter/erase/scrub these details out in order to move forward towards a published account that was more accommodating of the already existent understanding of the information shows how mundane the act of conformity to power dynamics is.

In many ways these readings brought a lot of the concepts of this course full circle for me, in that they were illustrative of how an archive can be measured against the larger power systems and how instrumental controlling peoples archives is for future political reasons.

It’s OK to be forgotten

Since this is my last Post, I’ll take a moment to “process” a few things that I’ve been mulling over in my mind this semester:

The Archive as Infrastructure: Who is building these Infrastructures and for what purpose? I think of Google, Facebook and Amazon building these behemoths to collect, store, aggregate and disseminate data sets on people in order to make billions of dollars in advertising revenue. I think about the classic Archives built by often well-intentioned cis, white people that now have to be retro-fitted to include Others (or perhaps discarded for a better alternative?). And I think about what the Infrastructure does and does not keep out: people who don’t or shouldn’t have access; underserved populations; young children.

The Archive as a Data Set: What are the parameters of the Data Set, and how is it being collected? What conclusions should we or shouldn’t we draw from the Data? Should the Data be collected at all? What is missing from or not being included in the Data?

The Archive for the Intangible: What cannot be Archived properly, i.e. Music, Dance, Cultural Heritage, Context, Emotion?

The third category struck me during the first week of the course and it has been a theme throughout the readings and discussions. Overall, there is this deep tension between the Qualitative and the Quantitative: what is and is not in the Data. But what makes me even more uneasy than the general lack of public knowledge about the Data being collected on each and every person, is that even when informed they often don’t care. What is the Data on the cultural implications of not caring about Data?

I do believe we need to face the Archive head on in an effort to make it bend to the needs of its audience and contributors. But at what point can we admit that it’s OK for the Archive to be incomplete? When will it be OK to be forgotten?

Image: Monument for a Forgotten Future

Theory is a club/Foucault Jurassic Park


Ugh, theory is a club. Ugh, theory requires chops. Foucault’s name-dropping feels like the initiation of a secret handshake I don’t know the response to. While some of the most rewarding knowledge I’ve encountered alienates before it opens itself up, I can’t help but wonder what the academic world would be like if minds like Foucault slowed down. On the other hand, dense, stubborn text can serve the knowledge pool by requiring communal decodings which keep the academic environment alive, perhaps preventing some of the consolidation Foucault appears to examine, label, and account for epistemologically.

Breaking off one small part (and I could have this totally backwards) a priori as it is used in this selection refers to positivity of discourse. These collective positivities have certain characteristics that he stresses, including the tendency for reciprocal influencing with the elements they connect. All of this determines “decisive thresholds”.

Broadly (and a fixity of scope is something I feel Foucault struggles with providing his readers – but then again, theory in general addresses lofty atmospheric ideas over immediately tangible stimuli) It would seem that Foucault is questioning the ways human epistemological activity can rely on the collective concepts it generates in its wake.

Insert a silly reference to the Heisenberg uncertainty principle, which, since it applies to theory, puts us ALL in a club, one which Foucault cannot rope off in part for VIP bottle service as he subdivides the atomic structure of bodies of knowledge, language – masses that no individual can conceive of in totality.

Insert sci-fi script idea of future super-intelligent A.I. thinking Foucault was the hippest human ever. They resurrect him a la jurassic park. Rather than provide entertainment, he questions their logic. Mayhem. Nobody makes it off of the island in one piece.

The Problem with Provenance

(I realize that I had skipped ahead to next week’s readings in my previous processing post “Building Community Archives in the Digital Age,” so here’s my processing post for today’s class, which also addresses similar topics.)

In his talk “RadTech Meets RadArch: Towards A New Principle for Archives and Archival Description,” Jarrett Drake focused on the colonial history and the implications of what provenance means in archival practice, especially when it comes to preserving digital material and records. Much like the concept of respect des fonds, provenance denotes conserving the original order of things. That is, maintaining and having the record of ownership of a work of art or an antique, used as a guide to authenticity or quality.

Drake explains: “[A]t its most basic level, provenance thrives with the presence of a clear creator or ownership of records and with a hierarchical relationship between entities, both of which reflect the bureaucratic and corporate needs of the Western colonial, capitalist, and imperialist regimes in which archivists have most adhered to the principle. This principle, again, is the central organizing unit for description in most archival repositories and archivists must comes to terms with the ways in which we incorporate the privilege, power, and patriarchy of provenance into our everyday practices.”

I think Drake worded it best when he comprehensively and succinctly stated: “It bears mentioning that provenance emerged as a concept in the West at a time when most people were structurally if not legally excluded from ownership; ownership of their own bodies, minds, labor, property, and records. Its application in archives, which is close to 200 years old, reflects the limitation of state regimes in the West to recognize fully the human rights of indigenous Americans, black people, women, and gender non-conforming people.”

It’s easy to build something and write history according to one’s terms when the resources and the “right” to access those resources are well within one’s disposal. Drake terms these as (1) the legal privilege to create and own, and (2) the legal protection of that privilege. Skin color, ethnicity, and gender, for instance, were often used as walls that blocked privilege for those who were not typically white, male, cisgendered, straight, and wealthy. These arbitrary social indicators often defined one’s provenance and were used to justify the means of ownership, access to resources, and entry into particular social circles.

One example of archival information containing provenance, as Drake states, is the biographical note: “[A]rchivists often write massive memorials and monuments to wealthy, white, cisgendered and heterosexual men, including selective details about the creator that have minimal bearing on the records, and instead serve to valorize and venerate white western masculinity.”

By “valorizing” and “venerating” only a select few who represent a miniscule scale on the spectrum of humanity, we will never get the full picture of the history of the world. If we don’t try to make improvements in the patriarchal path of archival practice now and make efforts to create other types of archives that incorporate more diversity, then we run the risk of ignoring and even erasing entire populations’ stories, accomplishments, social contributions, traditions, and cultural diversity. It doesn’t matter how vast the collection; in the end we would all lose and miss out on untold stories and unshared cultural treasures simply because provenance dictates that we adhere to a patriarchal status quo.

Repertoire and quality over “keeping everything”

I found really interesting the readings of this week, mostly because I realized how my own ideas of archiving and “preservation” are related to a colonial construction and to a written culture, though I am from a country that suffers exactly from that and also has a strong embodied culture (Brazil). Diana Taylor’s and Foucault’s texts made me think about History classes I had during my school years, when our Brazilian history was taught from its “beginning”, which was considered the year of 1500 when the country was “discovered” by the Portuguese. It was only at the end of high school that we had a professor including indigenous history and indigenous culture in our History class, as before that we learned about that in Geography class only as a cultural aspect of Brazilian society, but not as a Historical aspect.

Besides, indigenous (or should I say native?) repertoire is present in our language, food, music body language, but when we discuss it with other people it is mostly to talk about what we can document, thus, archive. Because many of its culture and knowledge are unfortunately really disappearing, I believe the “archival impulse” has an important aspect in “archiving” it. But, as Taylor points out, there are probably other ways to ensure the permanence of this repertoire respecting their system of organization and transmission, therefore leaving the “archive fever” aside. In this regard, Tara Robertson’s discussion about what to show, how to give access and how to organize archives is really relevant, as, again, we (and I include myself) tend to believe that there is only one correct and efficient method of archiving as well as one “place” to keep knowledge.

In this connection, Pierre Nora’s concepts of “lieux” and “milieux de mémoire” and Taylor’s opinion regarding the polarization of these concepts, as well as the polarization of history and memory, makes me believe there are ways to transmit knowledge and culture that can prevent or at least reduce the maintenance of a repressive social order. This includes trying to break the rational tendency of dividing and polarizing knowledge and though. Furthermore, reducing our anxiety to save everything, being able to acknowledge that an ethical and well discussed procedure of archiving is more important, might be an interesting path to take. Quality more than quantity.

New Considerations

At times, in these readings, I am frustrated. Ann Stoler brings up relevant and vital issues about colonial archives: provenance. Colonialism permanently changes a place and archives reflect that, and there is important work being done to go back and think about how we know what we know. We need to not just question the content of the archive, but to also question how the archive was constructed. We do this to get closer to some “truth” of the place/time/event. After reading the issues she brings up, I am frustrated by how limited the archive can be. It is part of a picture, not the whole picture. Just like our narratives of history. It’s left up to us on what to do with the issues.

In the article by Jarrett Drake, he talks about the history of provenance and how, historically, archives became different from libraries, which I found very helpful! It aided my understanding in the potential of the archive and the limits of it at the same time. Aside from the more sinister parts of colonialism in the archive (people’s experiences it leaves out at best, and aiding the ugliness of the continued rule of the white patriarchy at worst) seems to be a kind of organizational tool. Drake asks how we organize the digital archive at a time when we can expand whose voices are included in it.

The Archive of the Trapeze


In the film Star Wars: Episode II — Attack of the Clones (2002), there is a scene where Obi-Wan Kenobi is consulting the chief librarian Jocasta Nu about the planet Kamino. They try to locate the planet through the archival records, typing the coordinates in, and one imagines the search term “Kamino” into the interface, but fail to find the planet.

Jocasta Nu: I hate to say it, but it looks like the system you’re searching for doesn’t exist.
Obi-Wan: Impossible. Perhaps the archives are incomplete.
Jocasta Nu: If an item doesn’t appear on our records, it does not exist.  

The encounter is brief, the search through the archives futile. Perhaps the brevity of the encounter serves only to reinforce the unquestionable infallibility of the archives. There was simply no need for further conversation. I’m interested in this scene not because of what it says about the archive as a dominant medium for information, history or truth, but rather the fact that even in an alternative galaxy “far, far away,” our imagination of the archive is still fundamentally imagined through texts and written records.


Writing, as Diana Taylor argues in The Archive and The Repertoire, remains a dominant system in our imagination of the archives. For Taylor, this is due largely to a cultural bias inherited from “Western epistemologies” that value the affordance that the written word provides — i.e., the ability to be detached and independent from the body of its host/source, and thus to outlive the latter (24). Compared to the “archive of supposedly enduring materials (i.e., texts, documents, buildings and bones),” the “repertoire” of embodied practice/knowledge (i.e., spoken language, dance, sports, ritual)” is thus seen as inferior because of its ephemerality and its requirements for live transmissions (Taylor 19). And in today’s myth of the digital as dematerialized ether, “the body again seems poised to disappear in a virtual space that eludes embodiment” (Taylor 16).

But Taylor writes against such a linear history of our knowledge systems, against the seductive idea that our knowledge systems are becoming more and more virtual, becoming increasingly stored in mediums that are abstracted further and further away from the body. For her, looking particularly at the performance of cultural memory across the Americas, she argues that “[e]mbodied expressions has participated and will probably continue to participate in the transmission of social knowledge, memory, identity pre- and post-writing” (16). Following Taylor’s argument, we need to examine alternative forms of knowledge systems and cultural memory in order to overcome the “preponderance of writing in Western epistemologies” — one which tends to dismiss and denigrate other cultures that do not share a strong dependence on the written word as the main language for cultural transmission.

To do this, Taylor gives us a binary of the “archive” and the “repertoire” as alternative tendencies of knowledge systems. Although this forms the basis of her subsequent arguments, she does not see the two terms of “archive” and “repertoire” as mutually exclusive, insisting that they often work together in tandem, and often alongside other systems of transmission (21). In that sense, Taylor wishes to break the monopoly that writing has on the histories of our knowledge systems, but without re-introducing any new hierarchy herself.

For the purposes of this presentation, I would like to think about Taylor’s terms — the “archive” and the “repertoire” — alongside a work by Singaporean artist Charles Lim called Stealing the Trapeze (2016). To begin, some biographical details about the artist would provide useful contexts to understand the political gestures behind the work: Charles was born into a family of Anglophiles; his parents having spent their lives as British subjects in colonial Singapore decided to name their son after Prince Charles. In his youth, Charles was sent to a boarding school in Cranleigh, England, where he would discover his aptitude for competitive sailing. Eventually Charles represented Singapore in the Olympics, but he would use the sports scholarship he earned to go to art school at Central Saint Martins in London. (He is also one half of the artist collective for which my final project is about.) Charles’s practice, in the last decade, has focused on Singapore’s estranged relationship with its waters, how the sea which determined the island-nation’s histories and fortunes has been effectively flushed out of Singapore’s national imagination, turned from a public space into restricted infrastructural zone. (See in particular the Bloomberg documentary on Charles’s practice.)

In 2016, Charles was invited to participate in a biennial set in the Irish city of Limerick. It was there where he first presented the work Stealing the Trapeze — a video installation accompanied by a poster which the artist circulated freely. In effect, the work became a means for Charles to question the written (British colonial) archive surrounding the technique of the trapeze used in modern competitive sailing.

In the existing accounts of modern competitive sailing, the trapeze is often attributed as an invention of Sir Peter Scott. As far as official histories go: the trapeze was dreamt up in the summer of 1938, and first performed by Sir Peter Scott and John Winter in a winning competition that very year. There are plenty of written records to support Sir Peter Scott’s claims to have invented the trapeze in 1938, particularly since Scott was a prominent member of the British society and a polymath (i.e., natural historian, painter, naval officer, sportsman) who wrote and published frequently. In other words, the written archive of the trapeze as a modern sailing technique had been well-established, largely through Scott. Charles was intimated with this history when he encountered, in his boarding school’s library, a book featuring Scott’s account. A book that he would then steal, in his youth, back home to Singapore.

Fast forward to 2016, Stealing the Trapeze contests this official history of the trapeze as a modern invention. Instead, Charles looks to the maritime histories of Southeast Asia, and he finds a possible antecedent of the trapeze in the traditional technique of “tembang” used in kolek boat-racing still practiced today. This traditional technique of using body weights as ballast and to steer a racing kolek boat predates the 1938 invention of the trapeze; and the word “tembang” is derived colloquially from the Malay word “timbang” which means to weigh or to seek balance. Charles would go on to do his own archival research and find a 1902 article in The Journal of the Royal Society of Art (a British journal) detailing descriptions of kolek racers using the tembang.

In response, Charles produced a poster as part of Stealing the Trapeze: a poster that aimed to correct the archive of the trapeze with another earlier article written and informed by colonial ethnography. So rather than Sir Peter Scott inventing the trapeze in the summer of 1938, as the history of modern competitive sailing records it, this technique of using body weights as ballast is proposed to go back to at least 1902 when British colonial ethnographers reported on the maritime arts of the Malay archipelago.

Yet, I want to suggest that the correction of the archive complicates the artist’s position as a postcolonial subject who, though is definitely interested in calling out an appropriation by the British Empire, nonetheless corrects that colonial archive from within. In that moment, does the artist’s reliance on colonial records and documents pay further compliments to the work done by colonial scholars and thus also to the integrity of the British archive at large?

My own personal answer to that question is a resolute “yes,” but there is something more and something perhaps redeeming in the video component of Stealing the Trapeze which complicates this issue further:

Returning to Diana Taylor’s notion of the repertoire, the video documents the ongoing tradition of kolek racing and the use of the tembang (this precursor to the trapeze), alongside competitive sailors practising the modern technique of the trapeze. All this seems to suggest that, despite not having written down records about this tradition or technique by the Malay peoples themselves, this repertoire of the tembang continues to be transmitted through generations after generations who continue to partake in the tradition of kolek racing using the tembang. Despite the state’s ongoing efforts to reterritorialize the common space of the waters as restricted infrastructural zones, this tradition has somehow managed to keep itself alive, and has even adapted to new modern materials — seen most visibly in the bright neon of the kolek’s sail. The dead-time of the written archive (represented by the poster) is thus juxtaposed with the live, moving images of the repertoire. Traditions and repertoires move; they change with time, and perhaps this gives them vitality and longevity.

Finally, as a way of conclusion, I wish to draw attention to the different relationships that the kolek racers and modern sailing teams have to the natural environment, in particular the waters. While the modern sailing duo is decked out in waterproof suits that insulate them from the natural elements, it is compelling to see how direct and tactile a relationship that the kolek racers have with the waters, especially when they are performing the tembang and going close to the surface of the waters. They touch, rather than avoid, the waters. They become soaked to their skins. The water here is not a romantic sublime, nor is it an object distanced from the human body; it is a medium that hosts and thus environs a repertoire of embodied knowledge.

(feature image: screen-grab from Charles Lim, Stealing the Trapeze, 2016)



My focus on Ann Stoler’s work, Colonial Archives and the Art of Governance and Foucault’s The Archaeology of Knowledge has in some odd way given me a tremendous understanding of both the history of record keeping and the language that factors to authorize those records.  These reading and others, like Trouillot’s book, “Silencing”, which exposed the greatest lie of the U.S. archives from slavery. This realization, though I had heard stories of the great Haitian Revolution, brought an awareness that was not there before. Before reading these works, I personally not comprehend the practices that for over a century have kept archivist tormenting with the idea of how to better perfect this apparatus called the “fonds”, so that it reflects true society as a whole. I discovered that not only was archival science an intentional and manipulated practice of memory retrieval and making, but also a potential and proven socio-political weapon created as a way to control and rule over populations and to claim provenance.


A few key points hit home for me and my interests in the political nature of archives as well as the practice and language that creates them. I was pretty surprised to discover the three Canadian Dutchmen who, in 1898 presented a shiny new rule book on how to ensure the integrity of the “fonds” and how to conduct thorough analysis of it’s contents. The “Dutch Manuel” set the president for what archiving is today.  The most important rule of this ‘Manuel’ was to not be altered or delineated from, was rule number one, ” “the whole of the written documents, drawings and printed matter, officially received or produced by an administrative body or one of its officials …”.  Though others have attempted to revamp this record production system, many continue to use this out dated method still today.

I explored a lot of Ann Stoler’s ideas as well as the cited references from her works.  I have realized that I am one of those “students of culture” she speaks about in her writing. She speaks directly to the questions that have plagued me since embarking on my own journey for true representation of my self and factual historical records of ancestors and events surrounding family. I am questioning the very same issues she points out and reading her thoughts gave me relief, that I can be candid and open about my same frustrations with silence and erasure within and around the archive.

Focault’s quote on asking questions about “how” this happens, gave me the spark to go digging. He states, “I don’t believe the question of ‘who exercises power’ can be resolved, if the question of ‘how does it happen’, is resolved at the same time.” Focault’s “system of formation and transformation of statements”, “enunciative function”, and his “historical a priori” all shed valuable light as to what is occurring as the archives are being structured. What Focault stresses is nothing more than the “language of the privileged” and how the archive becomes what it is when archivist begin to talk over, about and around the truth.

Who has the authority to make selections to be placed in archives? How does this process work? What processes exactly are at work? and “What criteria is chosen to either store or discard?”  What is classified as evidence of truth? and what are reliable sources?– since some believe that history has no power without it’s source.

So many questions began to come to me as I became anxious about the possibilities for future archival work and ways to improve and build new ideas to make it all inclusive for everyone and everything- for the sake of correcting history. I wanted to compare what was already in the archive to what part of my heritage and others in this ‘whole’ had been erased, silenced or omitted completely from the record? As I dug further into the history of record keeping, I began to discover many examples of errors, omissions, deliberate erasures and just flat out manipulations on the public record. How can the archives represent the whole of a society when clearly what is and remains within it, is only a fraction of what is factual. Is this why the three amigos of archival science felt compelled to publish in 1898 an official rule book on properly describing materials? Were they driven by the frustration as I am today? I had to know more and with a few more questions I went a little further.

Focault has greatly influenced me if not as much as Ann Stoler. Stoler’s points which reminded me of Derrida’s truth that “there is no political power without control of the archive.” It seemed true. Who has the power to decide?  Stoler rightfully explains how the “arch”, “archi(v)a” means magistrate in Greek and Latin and how ‘etymology’ rules for those who control it. As Thomas Richards Hilton states in “Lost Horizon about the Archive”, it was a “prototype for a global system of domination through circulation, an apparatus for controlling territory by producing, distributing and consuming information about it.”  This statement suggests that the archive was invented for the sole purpose to circulate information (repetitiously), and to also consume what was being spoon fed to the public itself.

Here is where my application to Political Epistemology begins. I address questions of authority and provenance, the questions of diversity and culture and the questions of access and truth. Erasure, silencing and ostracizing culture in and throughout history has become seemingly the norm for archival practice. Is this behavior inevitable among future archivist or can it be corrected with new innovative approaches to this science?  With so many new technologies, data sets, creative minds springing up, I am wondering why no one has made a way to drastically challenge the of silence to marginalized populations and manipulated evidence of statements and events of the past.

This newest challenge with the art of record keeping is with vast databases of electronic records which will make or break of future archiving. Will archivist create a whole separate practice for digital records? Will they incorporate old practices and processes with new materials and what problems come with them?

Stoler cites author Michel De Certeau’s challenge to question and rethink the archival process. I too will take on Certeau’s call to “prowl” the landscape of what kinds of piece meal knowledge has been blindly entered into the archives and how that information has affected me directly and collide with the future of others. Today with more communication  modes and access to a fair amount of knowledge of the past (not enough), marginalized communities are asking these questions and will ultimately find answers. The taxonomies of race and rule have been unchecked and have persisted for too long.  If legitimizing the epistemology of society is the true mission of any archivist, there must be severe improvements in the areas of provenance and historical cultural claims (not negatively).

Archivist must certainly know the difference between “what happened” and “what is said to have happened” when preserving knowledge. The source is the most important mode of understanding of the process, and the words to describe them has become a nuance for the practice and must be carefully considered before applying them to any new material. It is in the context and the process that create the original record that is more trustworthy and reliable.

Finally, the fact that there are less articles, reports and scholarship written on the social practices of archiving today, than there were a hundred years ago, speaks volumes on the work ahead of Archival Science. Why are there no efforts being made to master the understanding of the act of archiving or the sociology of archiving?- rather than on the rules, extraction of materials, organizing, describing, and theoretical spiel on archival practice?   What is our inner drive or “impulse” to create records in the first place? This is a totally different question from memory- or is it?

Levels of Visibility Permanence

The new era of archives is all about inclusion and challenging established “purposeless” methods of classification. The current discussion revolves around open mindedness and the brake of structural archival organization as to make it more democratic and reflective of contemporary times.

On paper it seems a positive step forward, yet this poses other troubles. For example, in the case of pre-internet material being digitized in order to be preserved, our new direction poses questions of not only copyright but of ethical values for the creators exposure. We constantly criticize that the archives are not all inclusive, yet when someone takes a group of work and decides to take it all in it is also villainized. We say that our hierarchy structures are faulty but we continuously create more hierarchical valorations. Erotica or Porn?, in the case of Tara’s article.

So, when reading Foucault when he states that all has to be considered including the incoherences, I am confused as to how will we get to an agreement of what is archival due process and what is not. I guess my main questions are, if every time a material changes medium the questions of ethics in terms of exposure have to be revised? and also, what are then the levels and considerations of visibility permanence?

Classified is a tease

This week readings were refreshing to me in how they showed archives being reactivated again from different perspectives.

One topic that struck me was of ‘classified’ information that Stolers talks about in her essay on Colonial Archives.  I found it to be an interesting insight into how cultural cohesion (or not) within the organization of an archive is important.  Stoler discovered in her research of Dutch colonial archives that ‘classified’ information wasn’t so much a secret but information that was unclassifiable, ’not necessarily secreted truths about the state, but promises of confidences shared’.  Or information that couldn’t be agreed on in terms of how or why a particular thing occurred, which seems to suggest that schisms in terms of interests for how an event should be archived and remembered is what creates these sensitivities.

Wikipedia defines classified as ‘material that a government body claims is sensitive information that requires protection of confidentiality, integrity, or availability. Access is restricted by law or regulation to particular groups of people’

Is ‘classified’ then a term that reports are labelled with when the information doesn’t line up with the archives overarching cultural narrative or risks undermining and restructuring parts of it?  And what would allow for something to be omitted altogether instead of being considered ‘classified’ within a political archival framework?

That these secrets may ‘index the changing terms of what was considered “common sense,” as well as changes in political rationality’ reminds me of how often conspiracy theories spring from the knowledge that certain information has been classified.  Ultimately that classification, if noted by the public, has the effect of announcing itself as something to speculate on instead of making the topic go away, which seems like a strange side-effect of classified information.

Boston: Cabinet of Curiosities

During a Pre-Thanksgiving holiday weekend in Boston I was taken to visit the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum and it was a unique and pleasurable experience.

Isabella Stewart was born in New York City and Married Bostonian John Lowell Gardner. Influenced by their travels Isabella became passionate about art. A passion that after receiving inheritance after her father’s death transformed into art collection. After accumulating a remarkable collection she began the planning for the building to house it. In 1903 the Fenway Court (name with which it opened) opened it’s doors.

It is remarkable that it was conceived and executed by a woman on her own terms with no constrictions and that it still functions and is managed as she had instructed. There is a lack of order, a mélange of objects lacking clear classification. It’s honestly a bunch of stuff thrown together, as you would organize your own home. All objects are displayed as she saw them and in relation to her hearts desires.

There are rooms so packed with paintings that you can barely appreciate due to the lack of breath between them, yet even this gives you a different experience, ironically of freshness. We are so used to super curated spaces that this saturation triggers a distinct response. From a curatorial view is very interesting, and in an archival sense I would assume challenging in terms of making your archive cohesive through time to keep the collection going and to contextualize it for the audience.

Interesting facts of the museum are: On March 18th 1990, a pair of thieves disguised a police officers stole 13 works of art. This remains to be the biggest unsolved art theft in world history. Also, in her will she stated that everything must remain as is and that nothing can be acquired or sold form the collection.

If your name is Isabella or if it is your birthday, entrance is Free!

On a same note, I also visited the Institute of Contemporary Art that currently has a Mark Dion exhibition that is pretty awesome.

This is how the exhibition is described in the ICA website: “Mark Dion: Misadventures of a 21st-Century Naturalist, the artist’s first U.S. survey, examines 30 years of his pioneering inquiries into how we collect, interpret, and display nature. Since the early 1990s, Mark Dion (b. 1961, New Bedford, MA) has forged a unique, interdisciplinary practice by exploring and appropriating scientific methodologies. Often with an edge of irony, humor, and improvisation, Dion deconstructs both scientific and museum-based rituals of collecting and exhibiting objects by critically adopting them into his artistic practice.”

All the pieces were so interactive and just fun and interesting. You can open the cabinet’s drawers and walk through the space as if t were your own. Hope some of you can go and experience it!

17.(SEPT) [By WeistSiréPC]™

A little late to the party, but there’s a really interesting project at the Queens Museum based on the el paquete media distribution network in Cuba. For the exhibit in Queens Museum, you’ll be able to access and surf (but also copy a selection of) a whole year’s archive of el paquete content curated by the artists – Julia Weist and Nestor Siré. (P.S. if you’re at the museum, don’t miss Patty Chang’s wonderful The Wondering Lake show too.)


For the project 17.(SEPT) [By WeistSiréPC]™, American artist and 2016-2017 Queens Museum-Jerome Fellow Julia Weist collaborates with Cuban artist Nestor Siré to analyze creative social strategies in Cuba that have developed in place of internet connectivity. The most significant of these phenomenon, El Paquete Semanal or “the weekly package,” is a 1 terabyte digital media collection, aggregated weekly and circulated across the country via in-person file sharing.

Since 2015, Siré has been curating art into El Paquete through a project called !!!Sección A R T E (!!!A R T Section), a series of folders updated monthly with original artist projects. The folder follows the rules of the Paquete: it can be no more than 5GB, and must contain no pornography and no political issues. In early 2016, Siré invited Weist to contribute an artwork, the beginning of an ambitious partnership. Over the subsequent year, the pair met with Paquete distributors or matrices in every province in Cuba. In these talks they gained an understanding of current trends and processes on a national and local level, including who and what was popular. Weist and Siré also came to know the depth and intricacy of the Paquete networks, including the extent of its economic impact; the Paquete also includes a form of media that has been largely absent in the country for the last half-century, amidst a political regime of aspirational socialism: advertising.

For !!!Sección A R T E, Weist envisioned a conceptual and political insertion, an original video featuring quotidian internet browsing that captures the aesthetic and habitual norms of contemporary internet culture. To conform to the strict “no politics” regulations of the Paquete, Weist and Siré sought out celebrities to star in the piece, including the actor Mark Ruffalo, well-known to American audiences for both his wide-ranging roles and his political activism, and in Cuba for starring as the Hulk. Beyond capturing the attention of Paquete consumers with an iconic blockbuster film star, the choice to feature celebrities rendered the content chiefly pop cultural and thereby acceptable for inclusion. The circulation of the artwork throughout Cuba is also explored in the exhibition: how the project was promoted by the creators of the Paquete, the edits that accompanied its national distribution, and the response from the Paquete audience.

The centerpiece of 17.(SEPT) [By WeistSiréPC]™ is a 64 terabyte server containing 52 weeks of El Paquete Semanal from August 2016 to August 2017. It is the only formalized archive of the Paquete and its construction and deployment was designed around the legal and logistical restrictions of the changing US-Cuba relations over the last year. Weist and Siré contacted every copyright holder represented in the Paquete from the week of August 8, 2016, in an attempt to legalize its contents. Where possible they secured the rights to distribute the same material circulating in Cuba to Queens Museum visitors, free of charge.

Weaving in and out of contrasting political, geographic, economic, cultural, and technological circuits, 17.(SEPT) [By WeistSiréPC]™ represents a complex examination of the invisible and visible forces that shape our contemporary cultural perspectives.


Image: Julia Weist with Nestor Siré, Still from Holguin (BABALAWO), 2016. Digital video, 00:49 minutes, sound. Included in ARCA, 2016–2017. Mixed media installation. Courtesy the artists

Expanding the Archive to Include Earth Too

The reading from this week’s class that I chose to focus on was D. Graham Burnett’s writing on the archive of ice located in Colorado, National Ice Core Laboratory (NICL). I found this a fascinating read because in our ever extending understanding of the archive we have moved from exploring the function, purpose, and organization archives of man-made cultural materials to now exploring the function and purpose of archiving the natural world. Discussing how to archive the ephemeral, and whether we should archive it, made me even more curious about exploring the ice archive.

There were a few things that piqued my interest and inspired me to focus on this area. The first was a personal involvement. A dear friend of mine has been exploring icy landscapes for years as a climate change artist. She is also trying to capture the ephemeral through her drawings of glaciers that are consistently changing, especially in the age of a changing climate. It seemed this archive was trying to do the same, capturing the changing ice landscapes to further understand climate change. The second was the irony of the NICL. The purpose of the archive is to study climate change, which is caused by a warming planet due to greenhouse gases emitted from human activity and energy usage. The NICL uses a massive amount of resources and energy to keep the archive cold enough for the ice, to study climate change. The third was the layers contained in this archive. The ice acts as document, in its layer’s scientists learn about the history of the earth, it is the bible of our natural history, chronicling our time on earth. The archive doesn’t just contain chemical information on our atmosphere, it also contains the earliest life forms we had on earth: ancient microorganisms in the form of bacteria, fungi, and viruses. We think of history as something that is gone, its past is for us to learn from but not live in, however, this ice archive contains life, frozen in time.

This function of this archive is supremely important in the current political climate. In one of our first classes we learned how “epistemology” became a prominent word as the new presidential administration controversially questioned climate change and started to remove data and even the phrase itself from government websites. A few different online archives for this data were started by professors, professionals, and concerned citizens to create a space for information the government was trying to suppress. Here, again, we see the importance of the archive as a place where lost information is found. NICL’s ice collection is the hard evidence in a case against climate change.

The content of the ice archive is essential for our understanding of earth’s atmospheric history. Within the archived ice are layers, like tree rings, that contain information about each era of our environment. Because the snow and ice never melts, each year a new layer was added on top of the old one, preserving the chemical make-up of the world. The ice was creating its own earthly archive.

Per Fredrik Scholander was the scientist who figured out that air trapped in ice was preserved. From Burnett’s description, he seemed like a fascinating member of scientific history. Burnett used the words “cowboy-scientist” and worked with other scientists who studied “life at the edges of death.” Working on another project in the Artic, Scholander heard that dogs were vomiting up fish because they were still alive in their stomachs, after eating them frozen. This led him to working with gnat larvae that were previously frozen, but then when thawed, were alive and well. He then realized that ice preserved the atmospheric air and was, therefore an archive of our natural past. All of this reminded me of Jurassic Park. It seems silly, but the way dinosaurs were brought back to life was because there was a small mosquito that was preserved in the layers of the earth and it has the missing dinosaur DNA. Hollywood took a giant leap into the simplistically absurd, but the idea was rooted in the work Scholander did to discover the invaluable information ice contained in its natural archive.

The organization of this archive has a commonality with most other archives, it needs to function at its best to preserve what is in it. The ice is stored in a freezer that is 55,000 cubic feet at -36 Celsius. In watching this YouTube video about the archive, I learned how sensitive the ice is to any outside elements (like potato chips!) and how important the back-up system is to an archive that needs to stay frozen.

From the reading, we know that this isn’t the only ice archive, but the unique characteristic of NICL is that it allows researchers and citizens to access its collection, through a vetting process of course. While this ice archive is mostly for scientists, granting access to citizens through videos, press, its website, and tours of the actual archive help the larger public understand the importance of its function and the larger scientific purpose it serves.

Learning more about NICL helped expand my own idea of the archive. I have walked through natural collections at museums, I have thought about scientists collecting rocks, soil, sediment, and bugs for study. I haven’t thought of these scientists as archivists, but they are. They are putting together collections that aren’t made of content by humans, but of earthly content. Their organization and selection of these archives could determine how future generations understand a rapidly changing earth. The importance of this during a time of global temperature rise cannot be overlooked.

This archive and others like it, that are preserving the earth’s content makes me think of other “natural” archives like fossils. The earth has its own way of preserving data so we can learn about our past. Now we are also seeing that biologics and the natural world could be a way for  us to archive our human-made culture and data through DNA archives. It has showed me that the natural world and archives are more connected than I ever thought they were.


Knowledge commons of the Internet

In an attempt to understand the implications of the upcoming decisions on repealing net neutrality laws in the USA, I reread Charlotte Hess and Elinor Ostroms piece ‘An Overview of the Knowledge Commons’ from the Ecologies of Information week and Susan Leigh Stars piece ‘The Ethnography of Infrastructure’  to glean  what kind of commons this act will change the internet into, and where it currently falls in terms of its definition of subtractablilty and excludability.

With net neutrality there has been low subtractability and excludability thus far, but with further privatization of the infrastructure it could soon become a high subtractability and excludable space.  Besides the larger economic control that providers will have on the ‘infrastructural highways’, how will this changing shape of the internet alter peoples behaviors?

Several years ago the Scientific American published an article looking at how our users had adapted to internet use.  The outcome that this article and others have found is there there is less reliance on other humans for information, or traditional ‘hard’ copies of knowledge, and more on the ability to ‘find’ via the internet the answer. What will the shift from users having had open range or *algorithmic*  access to information and data to it being privatized do to peoples cognitive patterns of storing and accessing information?  Does this tightening of access to knowledge signify that the era of individuals ‘attention as products’ use (‘If you are not paying for it, you’re not the customer; you’re the product being sold’) is changing?



Net Art is Dead

Throughout the course my position on digital materials and their relationship to archives has changed. Previously, I considered any digital material to be intrusive and of minor importance. This, of course, came from a place of ignorance and misunderstanding. After researching and learning about the internet, hardware, software, The Archive, conservation, and the limitless interconnection with all disciplines and mediums, I have come to completely become immersed in the the digital world and all its implications in regards to our established infrastructures and environment.

Internet Art (Net Art) in particular intrigues me. There is something about the world it creates that draws me in. Specifically, I want to understand what goes on in the back end, which is the most interesting component. Also, the diversity of it. As Christiane Paul adjunct curator at The Whitney Museum said “We are looking at something that is becoming more hybrid. Pieces often have different manifestations: an application, a net-based piece, an installation.” This is what makes it so beautiful: it is limitless and unrestricted. It is democratizing and all inclusive, where not only “artists” are allowed. It is the transition from medium to medium that the net art community (digital art in general) has inspired that in the big picture has fed the art world and, by extension, the history of art.

Another important component is the value of experimentation, which allows for the richness of the net art culture, and which consequently also feeds technological advances. This correlation between art and technology can not be underestimated because one does not exist without the other. We have come a long way from “Cybernetic Serendipity,” an exhibition held by the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London in 1968, which coincided with the pop-art movement and ARPANET, the first TCP/IP network. Both of these were groundbreaking. The pop-art movement on one hand challenged the notions of high art vs low art, and ARPANET in itself the red carpet of the internet.

Gordon Pask Colloquy of Mobiles
installation view video 1
ICA, London, 1968.

On that same note of transcendance, Net Art has created a more egalitarian relationship between the creatives and the institutions, hence the desire of museums to contribute to not only the creation and recognition, but the proliferation of digital works. A great example of this is the not-for-profit organization Rhizome, an affiliate of the New Museum, which gives digital media artists a platform to showcase their work.

As Rhizome other institutions, organization and platforms should be mentioned, as are:

Archive of Digital Art (ADA): a database for virtual art,
DiMoDa, a virtual institution dedicated to collecting and preserving digital art, and
MoMa’s Digital Art Vault.

Given that the third edition of The Wrong Biennale is currently live through January 31, 2018, I decided to chose it as an example to illustrate the complex environment of Net Art and the difficulty it poses not only in the curation practice in terms of classification (due to its hybridity), but also and in our case most importantly for storage and preservation purposes. In 2013, Spanish cultural curator, writer, producer and artist David Quiles Guillo created the The Wrong (digital art Biennale). The Wrong Biennale is a global digital art biennale that aims to display digital culture to a wider audience on the basis of open participation.

“The online biennale happens in pavilions: virtual curated spaces in any online accessible media where selected artworks are exhibited. The offline biennale happens in embassies; art spaces, galleries, institutions and artist-run spaces in cities around the world that feature temporary AFK projects, live performances, workshops, artist talks and exhibitions.”

This virtual exhibition has a total of +1,100 artists, 80 curators and an estimated +12 million unique visitors. This is massive. The mediums used by the creators are multiple, the use of the media is interchangeable and it creates a never ending loop of clicking. Once you land on the main website, virtual pavilions greet you, each one promising to take you into an infinite world beyond the net universe. In this biennale, you will find art created to be showcased on Instagram as is the case for “The Future for Today,” which “is a series of Instagram stories about what is to come. Every weekday, a different medium artist posts their predictions, employing divination techniques from the past and future.”

Then you will find a hyperlinked directory called 15cmdments, which “derives from 15 different Macbook keyboard shortcuts one is able to perform using the “cmd” key e.g. Command-C = Copy. 15 Artists have been invited to choose one of the 15 as a starting point to create new art.” Furthermore, in the same ecosystem you find an overwhelmingly uncomfortably curated virtual installation called “Curating Spam,” which is described as “Spam as information, Spam as aesthetics, Spam as communication strategy, Spam as curating, Spam as all the things you never wished for but happened anyway.” The “Curating Spam” pavilion was first intended as ng) shit”, which perfectly takes us to the important point of it all. How can all this inter-linkable material be stored and preserved, maintaining its essence? Should we store everything without discrimination and just amass for posterity? And if not, who shall be given the responsibility to decide what needs to be preserved for posterity?

The most problematic situations with preserving Net Art are: server payments, keeping the software to date, and the conceptualization and context of the art. This according to Annet Dekker in “Assembling traces, or the conservation of Net Art” article for Necsus Journal. With standardization and the defeat of capitalism (which I think is digital media conservation’s biggest issue) not foreseen in the near future, “the caretakers” (net users that appropriate the pieces to keep them alive) seem to be our only current viable net archive.

Processing Post

If we are to learn form history, making an important work accessible would promise a longer life. Plato’s Dialogues that lured the average literate Athenian outlives his technical and much less popular works. Regarding Classical Chinese, many essays by high level officials were lost, but a entry-level collection called Guwen Guzhi (the Finest of Ancient Prose), edited by two intellectuals in a small village in the south three hundred years ago has become one of the most widely distributed selections.

Although many classics have been preserved, most of art and artists faded. Cryptology dates back to when humans needed to send long distance messages for the first time, but only the most extraordinary techniques have left imprints to us today. When an old image is presented to me, it may also remind me of the majority of memories around the same event that were no long available.

Speaking of actual storage methods, I thought floppy disks were fascinating when I first used one, and envisioned storing some important and secretive messages in it. It seems challenging to specifically preserve a corpus of information. The SFF works I’ve read haven’t provided much fresh thinking. The stories depicts encoding text into the surface of a planet or sending a living human brain to aliens for an exchange of intelligence. Those futuristic novels rather demonstrate exploring than archiving.