In his introduction to the DEAF03 Symposium, moderator Manuel DeLanda
gave an overview of the thematic threads between the various lectures.
DeLanda described different forms of archives and how they relate to the
expression of identity and functioning of memory. There are formal,
institutional archives, like museums and bureaucratic records, and
informal, non-institutional archives, like personal photo albums that
equally create and preserve a sense of identity.
A more collective form of informal archive is the cultural archive of
immigrants, which was the topic of Arjun Appadurais lecture. Appadurai
would also speak about the way memory functions: what is forgotten, lost
from the old country and what is entered from the new, creating a new
Similar to Appadurai, Sadie Plant didn't deal with an institutional
form of archive: her lecture concerned the existence of fleeting text
messages and the way mobile phones knit communities together.
Scott Lash, then, made a distinction between two kinds of archives:
the classical archive and the contemporary archive. Whereas the first is
more static, the latter is known for its web-weaving, in which
involuntary memory plays an important role. This involuntary memory
comes forth from the unconsciousness, where intuition and experiences
Experience was an important concept in Brian Massumi's lecture.
Massumi is concerned with the archive of experience, the risks and
opportunities offered by our environment. In the archive objects are not
important, as is the case in museums, but relationships between the
Environmental circumstances are very important for evolutionary
processes. In his lecture, Simon Conway Morris looked at the deeper
patterns of life, the underlying order that determines the evolution of
certain species. There seems to be a convergence of contingency and
topological forms - the world's own archive.
Finally there was the question of artistic interventions that are
made possible by the existence of huge databases. One approach centers
on the issue of the topics concerning the issue of visualization and the
politics intrinsic to database content; different standards and
traditions based on geography and nationality; data gathering and data
notation. The multiplicity of standards for data collection and the
consequential incompatibility of different data sets were discussed by
Ingo Günther. Günther demystified the idea that just by analyzing the
data we can obtain the truth.
MVRDV-architect Winy Maas tackled the question of data visualization
in urban planning. A lot of information has to be dealt with: all kinds
of legislation, the locus and its opportunities, sociological aspects...
All these data define possible designs and transgressive solutions.
Maas has designed software that creates visual spaces of architectural
hypotheses that can be used in a wider dialogue.
Artistic creativity and intuition are used to visualize the content of
the archive and its consequences.
All in all, the seven presentations touched upon the different
aspects of the concept of the archive and the way forms of memory and
identity are associated with them.
More information about the DEAF03 Symposium can be found in Information is Alive,
the publication that accompanies DEAF03. This book contextualizes the
festival through a collection of essays by the symposium lecturers and
other theorists, descriptions of selected DEAF03 projects and a
selection of 'knitted data'.