A Musing on Local Archives (hard drives, etc)

by Patrick Lichty


The local archive is a tool against hegemony, but not the digital one. The roots of the digital archive are too enmeshed in the agendas of power itself, from the very structure of digital technology to the hegemony of the QWERTY keyboard.  Secondly, the digital archive is too ephemeral on too many levels for it to be effective as anti-hegemonic tool for any longer than a very limited period of time.

Consider Marcel Duchamp’s Boite en Valise. In this series there was a reiteration of the artist’s intent through self-reflexive curation and archival. Within this work, Duchamp has short-circuited the circuits of capital in the larger contemporary gallery tradition of his time (also not too unlike that of the fin de millennium). His discourse, production, and distribution collapse to the Valise.

However, in the case of centralizing all modes of production to the individual, does empowerment include a snare of technopolistic enslavement? That is, by taking on all functions of production and distribution, there is a thin line between “outsourcing” all cultural production method to the “now-starving” (financially and temporally) artist.  [...]