Information Is Alive

Collection of essays from all kinds of disciplines that study archives in a paleontological, cultural, political, sociological, historical, neurological or artistic context.

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Issued: 2003

ISBN: 90-5662-310-9

Dimensions: 23 x 16 cm

Pages: 216

Type: Paperback, Illustrated, full color

Language: English


With: Arjun Appadurai, Simon Conway Morris, Antonio Damasio, Manuel DeLanda, George Dyson, Boris Groys, Ingo Günther, Ryszard Kapuściński, Winy Maas, Brian Massumi, Sadie Plant, Scott Lash.

Edited by Joke Brouwer and Arjen Mulder.  

More and more artists and architects are developing software systems that automatically organize data into complex knowledge systems, in a process within which the user is only one determining factor. Information Is Alive considers the artistic potential of these couplings in a selection of essays, interviews and projects.

Arjun Appadurai reports on the desire to shape collective memory, as expressed through examples such as the official discourse on archives, and discusses alternative ways of forming such memory being put into place by subjects who are ignored by world capitalism. In a meditation on various theoretical perspectives, Sadie Plant looks at cellphone use as a social bond in communities whose members are geographically dispersed. Artist Ingo Günther presents Worldprocessor (1988–2003), a project that proposes interfaces for visualizing statistical data related to global geopolitical phenomena (life expectancy, immigration rates, energy consumption). Through a philosophical reflection on the concept of movement, Brian Massumi evokes the paradoxical nature of information, which is both rooted in abstract systems (language, computer code) and understood subjectively when it is physically deployed.

The book also includes interviews with researchers working in different scientific fields (Simon Conway Morris in biology, George Dyson in epistemology, Winy Maas of the collective MVRDV in architecture, Antonio Damasio in neurology, and Scott Lash in sociology). These specialists comment on procedures used to sort and interpret the data gathered in their research.


 “We know we live in a universe that’s hospitable to information or we wouldn’t be here making note of this.”


Essays and Interviews

  • Arjen Mulder and Joke Brouwer: Introduction
  • Manuel DeLanda: The Archive Before and After Foucault
  • Arjun Appadurai: Archive and Aspiration
  • Sadie Plant: Mobile Knitting
  • Simon Conway Morris: The Deep Pattern of Life
  • George Dyson: On the Loose
  • Winy Maas: Permanent Testing
  • Brian Massumi: The Archive of Experience
  • Ingo Günther: Esse Est Percipi
  • Antonio Damasio: The Memory as Living Archive
  • Boris Groys: What Carries the Archive - and for How Long?
  • Scott Lash: Information Flows and Involuntary Memory
  • Ryszard Kapuściński: These People, Where Are They?


Artist Projects

  • George Legrady: Pockets Full of Memories
  • Ari Versluis/Ellie Uyttenbroek: Exactitudes
  • Herwig Weiser: Zgodlocator
  • Yasuhiro Suzuki: Globe-Jungle Project
  • Blast Theory: Can You See Me Now?
  • Volker Morawe/Tilmann Reiff: PainStation
  • Jonah Brucker-Cohen: PoliceState
  • Ingo Günther: Worldprocessor
  • Lynn Hersman: Agent - Synthia
  • Tamás Szakál: Phonic Frequencies
  • Josh On & Futurefarmers: They Rule
  • Jeffrey Shaw: Web of Life
  • David Link: Poetry Machine_1.5
  • Lev Manovich: Soft Cinema
  • Stahl Stenslie A.O.: Erotogod
  • Geert Mul: 100,000 Streets
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