[-empyre-] Memory Errors

norie neumark norie.neumark at uts.edu.au
Sat Nov 17 13:36:57 EST 2007

HI Mickey,
this post seems to have slipped by me in my travels between work and  
home computers. so i'm delayed too, and my last post to you may have  
seemed odd, sorry ...  anyway, so much really interesting here...

On 15/11/2007, at 1:51 PM, Madeleine Reich Casad wrote:

> Hi Norie, and apologies for the delay; I thought your question  
> merited a more thorough response than I had time for last night.
> On Nov 13, 2007, at 6:18 PM, Norie Neumark wrote:
>> HI MIckey,
>> On 13/11/2007, at 1:21 PM, Madeleine Reich Casad wrote:
>>> .  My readings focus on ways that new media and literary artworks  
>>> stage interactions between the representational logic and  
>>> deferred temporality of writing, on the one hand, and the  
>>> instantaneity and emphemerality of digital media, on the other,  
>>> and how these interactions circulate around questions of identity  
>>> and power.
>> this sounds really fascinating. can you give us an example? also  
>> i'm curious about how you find this works differently with new  
>> media and with literary artworks?
>> Norie
> I wanted to back up a bit, since a few people have mentioned  
> Derrida's Archive Fever so far this month, and say something about  
> how I understand that book and how it influences my work.  (It  
> would be interesting to hear from others about this, too.)
> For me the most relevant and interesting aspects of Archive Fever  
> concern the "future anterior" aspect of the archive: according the  
> archival selection process, you store information with the future  
> in mind, and the selective filter of the archive thereby projects  
> its own authority into the future; that's how both the information  
> itself and the selecting authority of the archive manage to endure  
> in time.  For Derrida, this "deferred obedience" relates to the  
> system of deferral inherent in writing itself: the idea that you  
> write to an absent party and read in the absence of the writer, and  
> the authority of "the archive" is one way to describe the forces  
> that stabilize meaning across that absence.
this is interesting in terms of our performative encounters (and for  
me interviewing for radio works too, btw) I try as much as possible  
to defer thinking about the future, and the future archive as it  
really takes me out of the moment of interaction and relation and  
cuts off possibilities and potentials. Perhaps suspending that level  
of thinking is part of the play process we've been talking about?
> D. also describes the (present) moment of archivization as a  
> virtual moment, a moment of play between the opposing desires to  
> simply repeat the archive, on the one hand, and to obliterate it  
> completely, on the other.
Do you think the concept of performativity is relevant here? (yes,  
i'm obsessed) Archivizaton as performative might be somewhere between  
these opposing desires -- actualising a potential archive that is not  
just a repeated archive but not having to obliterate the existng  
archive to do so?
> He connects this tension to the Freudian death drive, a kind of  
> energetic movement or vibration between two states of quiescence or  
> certainty.  The self-preserving archive in that sense is related to  
> a subjectivity or identity that seeks to establish its own self- 
> unity by mastering or excluding its 'others' (ie a subjectivity  
> that desires certainty and quiescence).
> This desire held in tension between endpoints is a common way of  
> talking about narrative pleasure or narrative engagement, too.  But  
> that's obviously not the only way to think about the performative  
> aspect of media art, especially when you're dealing with artforms  
> that are nonlinearly or chaotically time-based, interactive and  
> emergent rather than pre-scripted, etc...  I suppose that's one of  
> the things I meant by 'instantaneity and ephemerality':  that  
> performative time, which isn't necessarily oriented toward a  
> definite end or projected future, but which nonetheless might take  
> on that orientation under certain circumstances.  For me the most  
> interesting circumstances to think about here are political ones,  
> ones having to do with identity and the power of "the archive" itself
>> can you give us an example?
> One example I'm closely involved with at the moment is Agnes  
> Hegedüs' Things Spoken,
> http://www.mediaartnet.org/works/things-spoken/
> which engages Archive Fever directly.  It invokes and undercuts  
> various kinds of institutional authority (eg museum, national  
> treasury, the myth of coherent identity itself) and, I think,  
> likens narratives to virtual objects that act like nodes in a  
> network of subjectivities.  And then the stories and objects have  
> their own webs of interaction and affiliation, which raises  
> questions about ownership and selfhood and construction of identity  
> within the broader network.  To me the most interesting thing is  
> that the network is non-uniform:  different stories seem to be told  
> in different ways; they perform different kinds of  
> interrelationships between people and institutions, between the  
> occasion of telling as virtual interactive moment (one that also  
> includes the user) and the act of telling as self-projection into  
> the future.
this is a great example and now i see where you're going (or is it  
coming from?) in relation to the political and institutional  
authority. i think what you say about the network being non-uniform  
is really important... i sometimes wonder if that sense is lost in  
network fever, whereas face to face it can be clearer that different  
( and the "same") stories perform different interrelationships.
>> also i'm curious about how you find this works differently with  
>> new media and with literary artworks?
> Writing is one of many technological systems we engage with, and it  
> imports its own particular material and structural and medial  
> characteristics and limitations to our interactions and our  
> imagination.  I do think writing entails externalization, a bid for  
> duration, a projective relationship to time.  And literary prose  
> has a distinct relationship to the symbolic, certainly--writing is  
> one of the most abstract communications media around.  But I think  
> this grants it its own flexibility, too: by virtue of being more  
> abstract than other media forms, it's somehow more plastic.... and  
> by extension more open to an emergent virtual and more responsive  
> to changes in the cultural imaginary than it often gets credit for.
> I wouldn't really want to declare an absolute or binding  
> differentiation between media forms; I think they're all responsive  
> to each other, and that their interrelationship is always in flux.   
> But I also have the sense that the critical practices associated  
> with media art and literature don't always overlap in ways that do  
> justice to the artworks themselves, which I think should be the  
> primary goal of any critical engagement.  That said, literary  
> theory has ways of talking about memory, loss, and identity that  
> are still quite useful, and new media have ways of engaging the  
> space and the moment of the virtual that are much subtler and more  
> complex than (for example) Derridean deconstruction can easily  
> recognize....
> I like John's metaphor of amplifying wave interference patterns to  
> describe what we might make of this relationship, too.
me too! though do you think he's presenting it as a metaphor? John?
> Mickey
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