Text by Alex Bowron
‘Even if you wanted to burn the library down now, you couldn’t: its users have made a thousand copies of it, ready to take the place of the original.’ (Giampietro & Reinfurt 5)
Out of the vault of capital emerged the new archive. Acting as a sequentially ordered medium for the perseveration of recorded thought it thrived in its role as primary keeper of the never-ending copy. Having shifted its purpose from preservation to storage, its current function is that of a seamless prosthesis to the digital. In this role, it is entirely comfortable with how everything-all-at-once has cozied up to the singular. What we understand is that order and chaos are one. We are always already aware of the passage of time, moving through a pre/post post-era that strives to avoid processing itself through outdated filters. To us, the present should be as malleable as the past – and just as objective. We accept a surrendering of ownership in exchange for increased access to our creations. Depending on our mood, we answer ‘us’ or ‘not us’ to the questions of our way-wandering forefathers: Who was afraid of life, afraid of the night, afraid of being taken, afraid of being kept?
At this point, what we see is what we believe and what we see are fragments and symbols as the primary vehicles for information transfer. The content of these constructed bits of compressed data dictates the form they will take. This is how information is made physical: by way of its medium. If pages were once necessary for the moment of transfer, they are now available for uses far beyond. Our complicity in the collapse of its cannon is overshadowed by our unmatched ability to accept what we gain in simultaneous conjunction with what was left behind. Although ontologically unstable, the iconic book-object continues to perform beautifully as a symbol of knowledge. Having removed a part from the whole it becomes possible to take a step back and see clearly what is left behind.
Insert the mantra that knowledge has become much more accessible. It is after all in the incomplete that objectivity is formed. And so we understand that information-rich has become information-absent; and that the archive, thankfully, remains incomplete. The violence of smashing a hole in a wall, or making a perfect cut in a piece of paper, connects us to a real-world framing exercise. When you learn to objectify the functionless object, you learn that information can be possessed and that possession is an equalizer – the container has become the contained. What results is a configuration of found originals; a familiar low-rise monument to the copy that stands in for, and apart from, its source. Thus, the object’s function becomes to act out the part of the whole that its absence once pointed towards. Its function becomes to be collected. In this way, we understand how quality is activated by quantity and how a fragile, protective form can be repositioned as an object emphasizing structure. The catch of course is that the force behind the desire for completion will eventually be replaced by completion. At this point we will need to regenerate the void – admitting that the process is incidental – and ask ourselves: what will the original look like when we truly commit to an endless collecting and copying of chance?