Cyber ~ Cyber Archive: Being and Doing Knowledge

Cyber ~ Cyber Archive: Being and Doing Knowledge

MA thesis, Aalto University, 2018

The thesis is framed through the question: How can ‘archives transformed by the use of digital technologies’ be studied within the framework of ‘Cybernetic relations’? What are the parameters of this study – its historic and technical vocabulary, socio-political roots and ethical considerations that shape these relations – and what are the implications of this practice?

Although State and institutional archives are historically considered institutions of preserving knowledge, counter-archives as artistic practice have increasingly challenged their method and value. Archives created/generated/imagined within artistic research and practice still maintain a close proximity with the archival canon, through similarities in structure, terminology, and intent, but today archives are being transformed through digital technology. With a turn towards an increasingly participative and active engagement with archives, we can longer claim to have insufficient cultural data – we are overwhelmed with data. Simultaneously the rift between ‘the people’ and the ‘other’ is increasing, reflecting in data that is fragmented, disjointed, and out of sync – the tools that process our cultural data are getting bottlenecked, or perhaps a claim can be made that we have not yet learnt to harness the gifts of our tools. Our tools need to upgrade, and us with them – we need to make another beginning. ‘Cyber Archive’ studies archives within the framework of Cybernetic ‘Relations’ – in the context of hyper-connected data-driven networked societies; as cyborgs (networked individuals) in cyberspace (networked space); as cybernetic containers of accessible, meta-tagged, cross-referenced, non-linear, transmedia data – as observable systems that span several existing social and professional platforms to create a self-sustainable data multiverse. Through Cyber Archive as a system, we may be able to harvest meaningful data that represents to us as artists, a location of culture. ‘Cyber Archive’ is explained simultaneously as a technical term (concerned with archival technology); as well as a political term (concerned with the socio-political ethics of archiving). The process of defining this term is instrumental in arriving at a method and purpose for why must Cyber Archives be considered a meaningful praxis, beyond traditional methods of both archival canon, as well as archives within artistic practice. Our pedagogy, scholarship, and disciplinary identity are inextricably bound up in the Cyber archives we use today and design for the future. It offers practical tools, ‘gifts’ and methods to navigate this network, and establish conclusive models towards methodologies for Cyber Archives as artistic practice – creating Knowledge Communities, Cyber public zones of contact and Para-Institutions.

Keywords:

  1. cybernetics
  2. archive
  3. knowledge
  4. network
  5. theory
  6. artistic practice
  7. research
  8. language