Dialogues on Archiving
Alan Read and Michael Landy
A fear of transience, a feeling of loss, dust, and
the short-lived nature of digital information (Error 404, document
not found) all drive the urge to archive. But the desire for a world
without storage problems, for a solid architecture, in which all
text and imagery will be housed forever, must fail: the archive
is not infinite. Even if the stores survive, the data, the objects
of our interpretation, like memory, require permanent and active
renewal. Just as our lives can be thought of as an archive, in which
a passing moment, a one-night stand, a snapshot stashed away in
the subconscious might one day acquire great significance, each
archive possesses its own unconscious, the entirety of its contents
never fully revealed.
In Information Retrieval, specialists meet for a
private dialogue about archiving, broadcast live in a public video-installation.
It is an invitation to observe and listen in via head-phones, to
contribute via messengers, and take part in a 'live archive-roadshow'.
Together, the different conversations will compose the 'script'
for the second phase of the project.
The King's Library in the British Museum is regarded
as one of the grandest public rooms in Europe. It was built to house
the library of King George III, which formed the nucleus of the
British Library and is now on display at its new premises at St
Michael Landy. In his public art installation, Break Down, (C&A,
Oxford Street, Artangel commission), Landy spent two weeks shredding
the entirety of his personal possessions - 7,006 items in total
- leaving nothing but a written inventory of his life.
Phelim McDermott is one of the creators of Shockheaded
Peter and of Lifegame, in which the memories of an audience-member
were improvised in a live performance.
Author Lawrence Norfolk's acclaimed novels, including
Lemprière's Dictionary, create meticulously researched historical
worlds in which an encyclopaedic knowledge and classical mythology
merge with contemporary theory to compose a fictionalized archive
of the past.
Alan Read, Professor of Theatre Studies at Roehampton
is the author of Theatre and Everyday Life, a study of the relationship
between theatre and the undocumented experience of the quotidian.
Rebecca Schneider, Assistant Professor of Theater,
Cornell University, USA, has recently turned her interest to the
place of the embodied and ephemeral practice of performance within
the culture of the archive.
Dorothy Sheridan, Director of the Mass-Observation
Archive, University of Sussex. The Mass-Observation project was
founded in 1937 with the aim of creating an anthropology of ourselves
by documenting the everyday life of the British people.
In books like Downriver and Lights Out For The Territory,
novelist and poet Iain Sinclair wanders through London, a pedestrian
archivist of the city, gathering the minutiae of its stories, characters
Joshua Sofaer is a live artist who has experimented
with archaeological and archival practices in 'digging up' and displaying
the forgotten pasts of our childhood..
Steve Miles, Senior Lecturer in Sociology at Plymouth
University and author of 'Consumerism as a Way of Life', studies
the meanings with which consumers endow the everyday objects of
Join the event at anytime between 3pm and 8pm.
Commissioned and presented by LIFT
The project is developed in co-operation with the
Goethe Institut London, The Institute of Contemporary History and
Wiener Library, The Institute of Romance Studies, University of
London. With thanks to: Barbara Honrath - Goethe Institut London,
Lois Keidan, Michael Morris - Artangel. The video recordings of
the conversations will be available at the library of the Goethe
Institut and the Wiener Library.