[-empyre-] "Save As: Social Memory"

Jussi Parikka jussi.parikka1976 at gmail.com
Mon Dec 2 20:21:55 EST 2013


Just briefly, and a bit out of context (apologies, I am not following the
main discussion on the list, was just drawn in by Jon now);

Thanks to Ebru for drawing attention to the June-event we organised. In
short, it was supposed to be a bit different and focused more tightly on
questions of software, art and archiving. We wanted to showcase innovative
practices, such as ones having to do with Erkki Kurenniemi-archives. Our
aim was to think through some practical and ontological questions of
software dynamics from the perspective of the archival questions. Then Gezi
happened, and it felt that we somehow needed to recontextualise the event
partly – in other words, it become less about the long term archival
question but how the social is being reframed and perhaps sustained in the
activist moment which tied up a range of cultural techniques and media
platforms together.

As Jon point outs, any focus on individual objects that circulate in
network space is not adequate in order to understand the wider dynamics in
which things unfold – the affective environment coupled to the
technological space of communication. Indeed, any question of file formats
has to do with how technology itself is already at the heart of any
question of memory/archive/the social (they never were, I would say,
separated) but should not be isolated from the wider set of relations.

I think and agree there is a lot to be said for the necessity of methods
such as oral history - still. The “quick and dirty” usability of the
proprietary network space is also related to the uselessness of it as an
archival space. I think that a lot of the things we discussed in June had
also to do with questions of in what institutional space this archiving
could take place. Methods such as oral history might be able to take into
account the lived relations of affect that tied up engagement with the
online discussions together with the streets, so to speak. Besides
following up on the threads of algorithmic events (perhaps in a
microhistorical way even…) one should be able to follow up on the
“metadata” having to do with uses and abuses of twitter hashtags, the pace
and reactions to unfolding of events, and various other contexts of
intensity of the engagement.

Just as an aside, in relation to architecture, an archival project of a
sort that took place:


And similarly various narrative formulations through on-going documentary
etc. projects.

Anyway, I guess for me two poles to the question;

How is the archival conditioned by the technical aspects of contemporary
technical media? This relates to the way in which scholars like Ernst argue
that the technical media context of the archival points to a different set
of questions/concepts that we inherit from traditional memory studies.
Hence his insistence on notions such as microtemporal/time-critical for
instance (cf.

But then again, the aspects of social memory triggered by the events go
deep on another level too – affective and activist. Traditional questions
of preservation were perhaps less urgent than the idea of how future
memories entangle with the on-going activism; how to sustain the moment ,
as well as engage with these questions in a situation which is defined by
blatant censorship and a distrust of any centralised governmental
organisation who could not be trusted to preserve the counter-memory of the
activists. Indeed, this is where paradoxically the probably meticulous work
of “archiving” the activists was more of a police-operation of following up
the “dubious” elements, tagging them, secret arrests, databases of
suspects, etc. Indeed, we were interested in carving out how the issue of
memory unfolds from in-situ, the situation itself. Hence a lot of the
discussion was also on other themes, both related to curation, software art
as well as software, technology and activism.

Sorry for the fragmented post and if it misses the core of the discussion,

Best wishes


ps. Jon and Richard, the forthcoming book of yours is on my "read

pps. for those interested, my June talk is online here:

Dr Jussi Parikka
Reader in Media & Design
Winchester School of Art (University of Southampton)
Docent in Digital Culture Theory, University of Turku (Finland)

*Insect Media <http://www.upress.umn.edu/Books/P/parikka_insect.html>* --
Winner of the Anne Friedberg Award for Innovative Scholarship 2012 (SCMS)
*Media Archaeology <http://www.ucpress.edu/book.php?isbn=9780520262744>* is
available from University of California Press
What is Media Archaeology?<http://www.polity.co.uk/book.asp?ref=9780745650258>,
is available from Polity.
Digital Memory and the
available from University of Minnesota Press.

On Sun, Dec 1, 2013 at 8:12 PM, Jon Ippolito <jippolito at maine.edu> wrote:

> Ebru's panel sounds intriguing. While I'm glad to see a renewed interest
> in preserving software (the Preserving Virtual Worlds consortium, NDIIPP),
> the preservation of *social* memory is often relegated to the margins in
> favor of a focus on supposedly archival file formats.
> But especially when talking about the role of software in organizing and
> promoting social protest like the Gezi resistance, the dynamic of the
> social network seems much more valuable historically than the individual
> files shared on it.
> Take "Vine," Twitter's video step child--those seven-second videos you can
> take with your cell phone and then upload and share. It's fairly simple to
> preserve the files itself, and it wouldn't be hard to migrate them to some
> relatively well-known codec like MPEG4. They are short, so they don’t take
> up much storage space.
> Unfortunately, the focus on file formats ignores Vine's networked
> nature: Vine clips shared over Twitter, hash tags that people use for
> discovering and promoting them. It's tied into the commercial apparatus,
> with Vine micro-trailers to promote a movie years before it comes out. Vine
> clips can stimulate activism. All of that is invisible and lost if all you
> do is save a bunch of MP4s on a hard drive.
> I'm curious whether the panelists proposed any strategies for preserving
> the social dynamic of participatory media--perhaps some drawn from the
> traditions of oral and performative culture.
> BTW the relevance of these older paradigms for today's social memory is a
> core theme of the book Rick Rinehart and I are publishing this spring
> (Re-collection: Art, New Media, and Social Memory,
> http://re-collection.net).
> jon
> On Nov 27, 2013, at 8:00 PM, Ebru wrote:
> "Save As: Social Memory."
> - How can we preserve the software itself along with the content it
> generates?
> - In what way should we consider software itself as the creative archive,
> *arche*, of our digital culture?
> - What new archival practices does technology-based art and culture
> present?
> - How do software, social media, and network practices introduce a sphere
> of counter-representation which curate alternative narratives of the
> present?
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au/pipermail/empyre/attachments/20131202/f68c82fd/attachment.htm>

More information about the empyre mailing list