[-empyre-] timelessness and the archive

Timothy Murray tcm1 at cornell.edu
Tue Nov 20 01:42:24 EST 2007

>Thanks so much for these opening words, Monica.  Your distinction 
>between archive and storytelling and original and timeless 
>permissiveness is very much along the lines of Derrida's notion of 
>archive fever, which Mickey introduced.  Here the very process of 
>fabulation is both permissive and a constitutive component of the 
>archivization as an ongoing event.

One of the exciting features of much interactive work is how it opens 
the archive to such ongoing encounter and experience.  This is the 
case even with many of those artworks  burned "permanently" on 
CD-Rom, such as Norie and Maria's collaborative piece,  Shock in the 
Ear, where layers of five different narratives repeat themselves in 
never ending chains of non-repetitive sequence, thus opening the user 
experience to differing layers of voice, tonality, and interpretation.

I've found that, whether designing the interface for single issues of 
CTHEORY MULTIMEDIA or the user interfaces for the Goldsen Archive, 
the act of storytelling is integrally woven into the archival event 
so that the archive is less a repository, in the traditional passive 
"document" bound sense, than a site or collection of ongoing exchange 
and interaction.

Renate and I are looking forward to reading more of your thoughts 
throughout the week.



>Hello to everyone on the list,
>this is Monica. first of all thank you to Renate and Tim for 
>inviting me to take part in the discussion. i've been a little slow 
>to join in due to my current recalcitrance about writing 'biography' 
>and therefore in fulfilling Renate and Tim's completely reasonable 
>request to provide one before joining the list. eventually i did 
>manage a paragraph and Renate and Tim also sourced an existing 
>version on the net.... (apologies and thanks here on both counts).
>although reluctant to divert the ongoing discussion by introducing a 
>further topic i thought i'd just mention this difficulty in "reading 
>oneself (or anything else) backwards' - as Benjamin describes 
>autobiography in One Way Street -in case its an issue anyone else 
>would like to discuss in terms of the biographical entry and the 
>There are two other related aspects - at least- of the discussion 
>which i 'd like to pick up on:  the figure of the storyteller and 
>processes of storytelling which Norie introduced in an early post - 
>embodied, rather than representationally or technologically 
>configured means of reproducing past experience or events in the 
>present -  and suggestions that the internet is, or provides, a 
>renewed space for "oral tradition".
>'story telling', it seems to me might be said to have a similar 
>relationship to the material archive as performance art does to some 
>forms of its documentation, or the 'hearsay' of an event to its 
>authorised evidence. what interests me about the paradigm of 
>storytelling, in relation to the archive, is that its structures of 
>re-making are less concerned with accurate replication / 
>verification of an original 'something' than with transmitting the 
>experience of that 'something' in the now in which the 'story' is 
>told and encountered. If the archive can be thought of as a 
>repository then perhaps the 'story ' is more like an ark with the 
>ability to travel, and carry both teller, listeners and readers, 
>into expanded experiences of time which do not collapse it into 
>partisan chronologies.
>What also interests me about the 'storytelling'  paradigm is the 
>productive use of the absence or loss of the original that it makes 
>in converting this lack of an object into a renewed space of 
>production and reproduction, and a kind of  fearlessness about 
>reproducing the past quite permissively. - additively/ 
>contradictorily as it passes from one person and 'time' to another, 
>prioritising communication over replication or concerns about 
>authenticity or definitive representation. i.e. the way in which its 
>forms allow for a repetitiveness that tends away from the 
>constraints of duplication towards transformation. 
>So i've also been interested in the parts of the discussion  which 
>have touched on 'time' and the digital  as potentially  'timeless'. 
>When i first started to try and write about the relation of embodied 
>experience/ performance/ time-based works to either their aftermath 
>as documentation or their correlation and prolongation in other 
>media, i frequently used 'timelessness' to describe the 
>non-chronological potential of the internet as archive. But what i'd 
>like to propose now is that re-thinking this 'time' as being 
>'untimely' rather than 'timeless', may be more productive.
>Monica Ross
>00 44 (0)1273 381480
>empyre forum
>empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au

Timothy Murray
Professor of Comparative Literature and English
Director of Graduate Studies in Film and Video Studies
Curator, The Rose Goldsen Archive of New Media Art, Cornell Library
285 Goldwin Smith Hall
Cornell University
Ithaca, New York 14853

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