Para-Archives: Rethinking Personal Archiving Practices in the Times of Capture Culture
is a title of my doctroal thesis pursued between 2013 and 2017 at the School of Arts and Communications,
Malmö University. My work was also nested within
Living Archives research project funded by the Swedish Research Council.
The study explores possibilities for alternate modes of personal
archiving in the context of contemporary techno-culture and dominant practices
of personal data capture. An intensified proliferation of various capturing technologies
concerned with collecting, storing and analyzing personal data allows to problematize personal
archiving as one of the most prevalent everyday media practices that people engage in today, both voluntarily and involuntarily.
The main point of departure for this thesis is a recognition of a certain polarization of perspectives and debates prompted
by this new techno-cultural condition defined in this research as capture culture. If on the one hand we are presented with an enthusiastic
scenario of a certain infallibility of digital memory and possibility to fully control the way one constructs a digital archive,
the opposite view confronts us with a pessimistic vision of a full penetrability of our digital repositories (and hence everyday lives),
ever more tightly dependent on the imperceptible dynamics of network technologies. In this thesis I investigate a possibility to move
beyond these ramifications and seek alternate techniques for personal archiving by engaging in a practice-based research and
media archaeological inquiry into (archival) media histories. The practice-based case study unfolds as an auto-ethnography of the author's
personal recording techniques over the last decade. It traces the trajectory from a paper notebook, through a series of digital recording
techniques excerpting various subsets of the surrounding world, to the post-digital, archival cabinet organizing analog
and digital traces from these practices. As a result, this thesis puts forward a concept of para-archiving,
a creative media practice presenting alternate ways of configuring a subjective position in capture culture,
a departure from the dominant motivations for engaging with it. As part of an experimental methodological
assemblage defined as media practice approach, the author also uses his practice as a vehicle enabling a
critical reflection on the implications of today's pervasive technologies on, for example, material,
performative and agential aspects of personal memory and archiving. While located within the field of
media and communications the thesis borrows from such fields and debates as philosophy of technology,
media archaeology, cultural studies and (media) arts.
The text can be downloaded here
As one of the side outcomes of the project (and in conjunction with the exhbition on
) I initiated a small post-digital publishing initiative. Para-archives
explores idiosyncratic, disobedient and creative modes of working with archives and archiving across variety of media, sites and temporalites.
Read more here