Digital Memory and the Archive (Electronic Mediations) by Wolfgang Ernst

By Wolfgang Ernst

Within the renowned mind's eye, records are distant, mostly out of date associations: both antiquated, necessarily dusty libraries or sinister repositories of non-public secrets and techniques maintained via police states. but the archive is now a ubiquitous function of electronic lifestyles. instead of being deleted, e-mails and different laptop records are archived. Media software program and cloud garage enable for the on the spot cataloging and renovation of information, from song, photos, and video clips to non-public details collected by way of social media sites.

In this electronic panorama, the archival-oriented media theories of Wolfgang Ernst are really suitable. Digital reminiscence and the Archive, the 1st English-language choice of the German media theorist’s paintings, brings jointly essays that current Ernst’s debatable materialist method of media idea and background. His insights are important to the rising box of media archaeology, which uncovers the function of particular applied sciences and mechanisms, instead of content material, in shaping modern tradition and society.

Ernst’s interrelated rules at the archive, desktop time and microtemporality, and the hot regimes of reminiscence provide a brand new standpoint on either present electronic tradition and the infrastructure of media historic wisdom. For Ernst, various different types of media systems—from library catalogs to sound recordings—have stimulated the content material and realizing of the archive and different associations of reminiscence. even as, electronic archiving has develop into a contested website that's hugely proof against curation, therefore complicating the construction and upkeep of cultural reminiscence and historical past.

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For antiquarians, history is not just text but the materialist emancipation of the object from an exclusive subjection to textual analysis. Antiquarianism acknowledges the past as artifactual hardware, so to speak, upon which historical discourse operates like a form of software. In a digital culture of apparent, virtual, immaterial realities, a reminder of the insistence and resistance of material worlds is indispensable, and all the more so from a media-theoretical point of view. 18 If we redeploy the analytical tools developed by the so-called “new historicism” in literary studies from textual analysis to material cultural studies, we find not merely archival data on history (the symbolic regime of the archive, the scriptural regime of sources for historians) but also—as opposed 04Let There Be Irony_Layout 1 13/11/2012 10:14 AM Page 44 44 let there be irony to the textuality of (narrative) history—the otherness (even resistance to interpretation) of the material fragment, the relic.

Apart from any rhetoric of metonymy or synecdoche, the chemical essence of photography simply registers the physical trace of light beams that have illuminated the photographic plate. Thus there is a crucial difference between lithography and photography in terms of the presence or absence of the working hand of the artist. The photograph is an assemblage of optical signals. Fox Talbot introduced The Pencil of Nature by emphasizing that the photographic illustrations had been produced solely by optical and chemical means, without the aid of any person acquainted with the art of drawing.

The need for a refreshed theory of processing knowledge and remnants of past times recursively returns with media studies, 02Media Archaeology_Layout 1 13/11/2012 10:14 AM Page 30 30 media archaeology as a transatlantic bridge resulting in an exploration of ways of thinking, researching, and writing that detach past media from the overall dominance of the histori(ographi)cal discourse. ” Such analyses autopoietically refer to the alphabet-based world and the symbolic order of textual libraries.

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