From Wunderkammer to Meta-Data
Media are increasingly becoming means of constructing realities
rather than representing reality. Media do not depict the existing world; they
replace it with a different reality – a "media reality," or
rather "media realities." How different media shape reality is a recurrent
theme in the programs of V2_.
The DEAF03 program will focus on the artistic, political,
cultural, social and software-related implications of techniques for data clustering
(from Wunderkammer to Meta-Data). The program will emphasize the role of interactivity
as a method to manipulate, transform and individually shape media realities.
DEAF takes a fundamental interest in the present: a present which is condensing
into an archive before our very eyes.
DEAF03 videos at YouTube
In various contemporary views the archive has proved to be
a strong metaphor. The human body has become a genetic archive, now that it
has been digitally opened up by the Human Genome Project. Culture, as found
in museums and other art institutions and in magazines and cultural supplements
as well, has been described as an archive that new art must both react against
in order to be new and penetrate in order to be recognized as art. Our language
is an archive of meanings that can be unlocked by philological methods. It teaches
us who we are and where we come from. The unconscious is an archive of all the
traumatic experiences that define our identity. History is a database from which
facts can be arbitrarily retrieved, and now lacks one big unifying story.
It could be argued that the latter postmodernist view of
the "fragmentation" and "deconstruction" of everything in
the archive of history is related to the way in which data were stored and retrieved
in the early days of the information age: via non-hierarchical, non-linear search
engines. Digitally speaking, all data then were equal, whether they were text,
image, sound, protocol, program code or anything else. Since the 1990's a new
form of structuring digital archives has emerged. Now it is not just individual
data that are stored in databases. The relationships and correlations between
the various data are also being stored, by using "Meta-Data." Meta-Data
(also known as "tags") are data that describe and categorize other
data. Meta-Data as means of ordering, hierarchizing, streamlining and evaluating
have become increasingly important social, political and economical instruments
in an informational sphere long considered value-free.
Information isn't power, but knowledge is. Knowledge is tagged,
or intelligently grouped and combined, information. Knowledge is the result
of the (open or concealed, private or public, controllable or associative) knowledge
management of data and data clusters.
Archives no longer just contain our past for inspection by
historians, tax collectors and other researchers. We are permanently living
in archives: All the sites we visit on the Internet are logged by our search
engines. All our shopping is registered by our supermarkets. Each time we perform
an electronic act we add information to the running archive of our activities
as both individuals and members of target groups. On the basis of such archives
the policies for the future are being planned, from marketing strategies to
decisions about where to build shops. Behind almost every activity in the hard,
material world nowadays hides an immaterial archive (for instance the storage
of data from video surveillance and other security equipment). We are living
in the world’s online archive, or more to the point, we are living in
the world-as-archive, as a constellation of databases.
Because they are continuously available and accessible, archives
have become an essential factor in acting in the present. One could even say
that archives have become crucial in how the present is created and reflected
upon. Archives are becoming just as process-like in character as the present
already is. The individual's experience of the present can be increasingly described
as the moment when an "unforeseen" link is forged between tagged information
clusters that reach him or her through the media. Why does an archive allow
one connection to be established and not another? Through which media and by
what software can which connections be made within and between archives? And
which connections are excluded by those media and software? What role does the
individual play in this?
Knowledge can be imposed upon the users of archives, or it
can be developed by them by using strategic tools and agents. A growing number
of artists, artists' groups and architects are developing software-based systems
in which data organize themselves into complex knowledge systems of which the
users are but one of several organizing factors. Databases, software and archives
are increasingly the objective of artistic interventions. DEAF03 will explore
the artistic potential of databases and archives in very diverse forms.
(from the online Festival introduction)