Ever since I started watching Girls the stark simplicity of their title card has caught my attention. The simple typeface and the variation on color themes each week create a lasting impression. I also love how they play with color and contrast conventions, sometimes breaking them in order to create good bad design. I love when the colors combine on the border of disgusting. That revulsion is a much stronger and memorable emotion than simple pop colors. I finally sat down and collected all of the color cards in one place to create a working color swatch. I see this type of design becoming more influential in all sorts of places like the Proenza Schouler SS13 campaign for example. These designs are difficult to pull off but work really well for a younger generation that is used to seeing millions of colors present on the Internet.
We have seen steps taken further in recent years to engage us with the idea of outsourced memory with the introduction of cloud computing. Outsourced to major corporations, our personal data will now be protected by those most capable to do so. And if we choose to do so we can share as much of it as we like with our family, our friends, and even the public. Here then, we finally have the infallible archive that is an endless untapped resource for nostalgia.
These safe and secure off-site memory banks promise to hold indefinitely our precious photographs and music; our memories! But where is the assurance, let alone the insurance, that calamity will not strike. For anyone who has ever owned a computer, the paralyzing fear of data loss must surely have been faced at one point or another. The blank screen, the whirring drive, the gut-wrenching sense of loss when an irrecoverable amount of data(memories) has been lost due to some technical malfunction or other. Why do we believe that clouds are any more capable of indefinite storage ad infinitum than our own devices? For what are clouds but dust and water, two of the very enemies of the electronic circuit. In all seriousness though, these massive servers that house the clouds are equally susceptible to physical damage, power loss, and overheating, not to mention obsolescence (a sort of technological equivalent to senescence).
Nostalgia requires that we imperfectly remember our past and to this end the Internet as the archive of our age is an improper one. It is praised for its boundlessness, but it is actually just as fallible and capable of forgetting. For Derrida, it is a precondition of the archive to destroy its contents. To forget completely does not serve nostalgia, but to remember imperfectly does. The distance created by this imperfection, whether it be degradation, corruption, loss, deletion, erasure, or simply the timestamp imparted by the pixilated quality of the compressed archival methods, these are the hallmarks of nostalgic recollection and they remain very much a part of nostalgia’s transition to the digital.
 “Some have turned to the idea of the archive as counterweight to the ever-increasing pace of change, as a site of temporal and spatial preservation. From the point of view of the archive, forgetting is the ultimate transgression. But how reliable or foolproof are our digitalized archives? Computers are barely fifty years old and already we need “data archaeologists” to unlock the mysteries of early programming: just think of the notorious Y2K problem that recently haunted our computerized bureaucracies.” – Andreas Huyssen. Present Pasts: Urban Palimpsests and the Politics of Memory. (Stanford, Calif: Stanford University Press, 2003), p. 26.
 “The concept of the archive shelters in itself, of course, this memory of the name arkhe. But it also shelters itself from this memory which it shelters: which comes down to saying also that it forgets it.” -Jacques Derrida and Eric Prenowitz, “Archive Fever: A Freudian Impression”. Diacritics. 25 (2) (1995), 9-63, pp. 9.
“But the point must be stressed, this archiviolithic force leaves nothing of its own behind. As the death drive is also, according to the most striking words of Freud himself, an aggression and a destruction(Destruktion) drive, it not only incites forgetfulness, amnesia, the annihilation of memory, as mneme or anamnesis, but also commands the radical effacement, in truth the eradication, of that which can never be reduced tomneme or to anamnesis, that is, the archive, consignation, the documentary or monumental apparatus ashypomnema, mnemotechnical supplement or representative, auxiliary or memorandum. Because the archive, if this word or this figure can be stabilized so as to take on a signification, will never be either memory or anamnesisas spontaneous, alive and internal experience. On the contrary: the archive takes place at the place of originary and structural breakdown of the said memory.”. Ibid, p.14.
Jean-Luc Godard, Masculin, féminin (1966)
I woke this morning to find an e-mail in my inbox announcing an upcoming lecture at SVA’s Art Criticism Program by David Graeber with the description:DAVID GRAEBER, On Bureaucratic Technologies & the Future as Dream-Time
The twentieth century produced a very clear sense of what the future was to be, but we now seem unable to imagine any sort of redemptive future. How did this happen? One reason is the replacement of what might be called poetic technologies with bureaucratic technologies. Another is the terminal perturbations of capitalism, which is increasingly unable to envision any future at all.
The name sounding more than vaguely familiar and the topic sounding more than vaguely interesting, I put the coffee on popped a nicotine gum and got to work (re)discovering the work of this (sometimes labeled) radical scholar.
Paul Klee - Angelus Novus/Angel of History (1920)
Albrecht Dürer Melancolia I (1514)
Thinking today about the treatment of Durer’s Melancolia I engraving and Paul Klee’s etching Angelus Novus in Giorgio Agamben’s “The Melancholy Angel” (from The Man Without Content) I ended up running into and remarking upon the somewhat slippery, ill-defined and shifty temporal qualities of melancholy.
So, I kinda-sorta ended up trying to answer my own question that I suggested a few weeks ago regarding the possibility of there being something I called ‘retromediation.’
I ended up defining retromediation as the intentional return to an earlier or old(er) form of media for the very material qualities of production that such a medium possesses.
In so doing I hit upon the work of Tacita Dean who happens to have been the latest artists to be invited to install her work in the grand Turbine Hall at the Tate Modern here in London. While the physical jump from my classroom door to the work of Tacita Dean was only a few feet, I’m hoping that the conceptual one I took was a little bit greater. If a muddled academic mix of media and art theory with a healthy dose of neologisms are your thing then please read on.
Cory Arcangel, Super Mario Clouds (2002)
I find it particularly intriguing that artists who choose to confront the role of technology in society (either as a subject or as a medium) often take a retrogressive stance. This type of work predominantly takes two forms: repurposing (to make something new out of old) or retro/nostalgia (to look towards the past from the present).
On the one hand, work that repurposes older technologies to make them appear new or to arrive at new functionality exists. These include artists working from an environmental perspective, working with circuit bending, game hacking, and creating digital/analog hybrids. Such works serve as a bridge linking our past with our technological present. These formats also comment on the rapid obsolescence of technologies.
Glitch architecture is a heretofore unexplored approach to looking at architecture. It draws on the concept of glitch art that explores often-unintentional disruptions that can occur when using technology. These disruptions are all-the-more disturbing in the context of architecture given our predisposition to believe in the highly planned and structured nature of building. Even the pairing of words seems to indicate a mistake or error leading to failure. But these glitches can actually lead to innovation and success.
The interstitial space between glitch and architecture are not as drastic as they may at first glance seem. Aside from the obvious connections between methods of architecture and means of technology, the Media Lab’s founder and esteemed computational architect Nicholas Negroponte was an early explorer in the field of algorithmic architecture along with cybernetic architect Gordon Pask. These two, along with many others, grew the field of architecture hand in hand with that of media art while exhibiting alongside each other at shows like 1968’s groundbreaking Cybernetic Serendipity.