[-empyre-] story-time and the archive

Norie Neumark norie5 at mac.com
Sun Nov 25 16:16:45 EST 2007

Hi All,
feeling a bit dizzy.... with delight that we have a new govt in  
Australia (yay!) and also because I've just been at Andrew's Palace  
of Memory site on SL... a-mazing... all I can say is, thank god I can  
fly. (he gives details in his previous post about it). but I'm eager  
to engage with this post because I'm finding the way Monica is using  
the concept of untimely very useful.  I think one of the things I  
like about it is that it offers a way to think about things like  
recorded voice without using 'disembodiment' as a way to foreground  
the uncanny effects (which we're pretty used to now) -- which leaves  
the complex and paradoxical relationship of voice to body still in  
play... as we were talking about here earlier I think. What I wonder,  
Monica and others, is whether you think the digital is more untimely  
than analogue, in relation to performances using voice, for instance,  
or other art works -- and how this affects and is affected by archiving?
On 23/11/2007, at 6:16 AM, monica wrote:

> dear norie, renate and all,
> what i want to try and do in this mail is to begin to respond to  
> norie's post about the untimely with reference to accident/ and the  
> uk data accident...
> norie wrote:
> can you say more about... how "untimely" may be more productive?  
> (intuitively I agree but would like to know more how you got to  
> this place in your thinking... and where you think 'untimely' could  
> take us)
> Re; untimely /timeless': re-thinking what these terms mean can be  
> conceptually and strategically useful in thinking about how the  
> significance of an event / artwork at the time when it happens  
> relates to how it will be positioned or operate (or not)  
> subsequently, yes, Mickey's mail (Nov 18) does point to this:
> <But here too I think about power, the constraints that make the  
> performative 'readable' / meaningful / "felicitous" in the first  
> place -and - D. also describes the (present) moment of  
> archivization as a virtual moment, a moment of play between the  
> opposing desires....>
> this conflict of opposing desires seems to go to the heart of the  
> matter of how what,when and why something happened and how the  
> forms of its archivisation/ preservation are reconciled.
> if our relation to time is largely constructed by chronologies  
> which are partisan to the investments of prevailing power  
> structures and this determines what is relegated, both in the  
> present and the 'past', then a system of consignment may be said be  
> at work which induces oblivion for anything contra-indicatory, or  
> untimely, to maintaing the authority of those interests.
> So, to try and be brief,if we think of the desires of archivisation  
> as being polarised between the priority of preserving the artwork/ 
> object per se, and the priority of enabling its significance to  
> endure, i'd suggest that the extreme desire of preservation is to  
> establish an incontrovertible status of value at the time and  
> maintain it subsequently: i.e. predictively (to be timeless:  
> unchangeable status quo/monumentalisation / stabilised form and  
> value) - whereas the desire for an event/artwork to have duration  
> is primarily concerned with unconstraining the artwork from its  
> chronological assignment (to become untimely) so that it has the  
> potential to continue to be to communicable within a continuum  
> whose parameters of form and value are not predictable.  
> ( transmissibility/ transformation- the kind of processes Tim  
> describes in his mails about the Goldsen Archive as resource 19&20  
> Nov).
how do you see ephemeral artworks working here?
> <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.>
> finally,this gets me to the accident as the quintessential example  
> of the 'untimely'. the 'untimely' power of the accident disrupts  
> what we perceive as our personal/public status quos by erupting  
> from co-existent parts of our continuum to which our norms, more or  
> less, generally render us oblivious. ( the accident reminds us as  
> benjamin suggests,that we shouldn't be surprised- or maybe forget-  
> 'that the state of emergency in which we live is not the exception  
> but the rule).
> the shock generated  by the uk data accident is because it wasn't  
> supposed to happen, it rocks our personal security and the status  
> quo of the uk government unpredictably.
> even if , at some level we were aware that this was an accident  
> waiting to happen,the 'untimely-ness' of the accident's disruptive  
> energy provokes a crisis  which unexpectedly jolts/ contradicts  
> held values ( an authoritative functional governing system is  
> revealed as dysfunctional) and brings another kind of  'timely- 
> ness' to come to our attention. here, the accident has returned  
> questions of the issue of mass data management/ the relation of  
> individuals to the electronic State/ to the centre of public debate  
> because it is no longer about distant bureaucracy, for 25 million  
> people it's suddenly a potential  identity and financial security  
> problem which is personal.
> monica
> Hello Monica, and all,
> I've been away from the computer again and just catching up... I  
> realise you've moved on a bit from here, but would still like to  
> respond to this because there's so much here...
> On 20/11/2007, at 12:42 AM, monica wrote:
> 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 archive.
> 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:
> this is all really interesting. i like your figure of story as ark,  
> both for its play on the arc of the narrative and for the  
> foregrounding of the invitation to travel... that story telling can  
> offer.The way of thinking about the relation of the ark to the  
> repository, story to archive,  seems to tie in with Mickey's points  
> (Nov 18):
>  But here too I think about power, the constraints that make the  
> performative 'readable' / meaningful / "felicitous" in the first  
> place, and what makes a particular performative act desirable to  
> us, why we gravitate to it, what kinds of vibrational resonance (to  
> continue the energy metaphor-or-is-it-) we seek out and why...
> I think Tim takes this up too, in his response to this post...
> 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.
> What do you think about the role of voice in this "productive use  
> of the absence or loss of the orignal". Somehow it's as if having  
> the 'same' voice of the storyteller enables this...And also this  
> inflects the storyteller's voice, playing with but revealing its  
> own impossible authenticity?
> - 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.
> this repetitiveness that tends away from duplication also ties in  
> with something Mickey said in relation to Derrida in that same post?:
> 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
> 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
> can you say more about this... how "untimely" may be more  
> productive? (intuitively I agree but would like to know more how  
> you got to this place in your thinking... and where you think  
> 'untimely' could take us)
> i realise you've discussed this a bit in your next post, relating  
> 'permisiveness' to untimely-ness (which i'm permitting myself to  
> copy out of your next post -- i'll make it green to signal it's  
> 'untimeliness' here):
> what i want to suggest about the time of 'the-digital-archival- 
> event' is that its 'permissiveness' comes from a capacity for  
> 'untimely-ness' rather than  'timelessness'. as e.g. in technically  
> substituting for, and expanding, hearsay/ oral tradition/ word of  
> mouth/, radio and sound recording permitted us to become accustomed  
> to the uncanny experience of the voice as disembodied and the  
> 'untimely' event of being able to hear dead people singing.
> it's the ways in which art makes use of 'untimely-ness' as  
> intervention,    whether as an embodied action/ event or the ways  
> in which the media/data of its   continuations reveals other  
> continuums, that interests me... which could maybe take into us the  
> accident part of the discussion
> but i'd still be really interested in hearing more... about the  
> above too... examples??
> best
> norie
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> Monica Ross
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