By Sven Spieker
The typewriter, the cardboard index, and the submitting cupboard: those are applied sciences and modalities of the archive. To the bureaucrat, records include little greater than rubbish, bureaucracy not wanted; to the historian, nevertheless, the archive's content material stands as a quasi-objective correlative of the "living" prior. Twentieth-century artwork made use of the archive in various ways--from what Spieker calls Marcel Duchamp's "anemic archive" of readymades and El Lissitzky's Demonstration Rooms to the compilations of images made via such postwar artists as Susan Hiller and Gerhard Richter. within the massive Archive, Sven Spieker investigates the archive--as either bureaucratic establishment and index of evolving attitudes towards contingent time in technological know-how and art--and reveals it to be a crucible of twentieth-century modernism. Dadaists, constructivists, and Surrealists favorite discontinuous, nonlinear files that resisted hermeneutic interpreting and ordered presentation. Spieker argues that using data by way of such modern artists as Hiller, Richter, Hans-Peter Feldmann, Walid Raad, and Boris Mikhailov responds to and keeps this assault at the nineteenth-century archive and its objectification of the historic procedure. Spieker considers archivally pushed paintings with regards to altering media technologies--the typewriter, the phone, the telegraph, movie. And he connects the archive to a very smooth visuality, displaying that the avant-garde used the archive as anything of a laboratory for experimental inquiries into the character of imaginative and prescient and its relation to time. the large Archive bargains us the 1st serious monograph on an overarching motif in twentieth-century art.
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Additional info for The Big Archive: Art From Bureaucracy
Here the forces have never been the objects of direct perception; all our previous experiences relate only to the apparent position of the stars. Nor do we expect in the future to perceive the forces. The future experiences which we anticipate again relate only to the position of these luminous points in the heavens. 5 What seemingly accidental slips of the tongue and other lapses were to Freud, the seemingly random shifting positions of the stars in the sky are to Hertz. Again we are dealing not with an archive of static facts but with the dynamic relationship between two sets of facts—one observed and the other anticipated and / or invisible—with the diVerence between them hinting at the hidden forces behind their transformations.
In other words, what is present in the ﬁle is what the ﬁnal document excludes. Nineteenth-century historians thought of the ﬁles stored in archives as primary—in other words, not part of culture—because they viewed them as transcriptions of activities of which they were themselves a part. 29 With its ability to archivize even the most inconspicuous details, while at the same time stripping these details of any index of the past in which they once belonged, photography, together with the Akten found in archives, represents the backbone of nineteenth-century historiography.
In a sense, the nineteenth century’s obsession with the historicity of all facts only draws the inevitable consequence from Spiesz’s approach: if we cannot know what will or will not be useful in the future, then archives have to preserve all the paperwork. However, where archives have to collect everything, because everything may become useful in the future, their storage capacities are soon exhausted. Not surprisingly, anxiety over disorder and entropic chaos is a staple of nineteenth-century writing about archives.