On Archives and Networks

Postcapital. Archive 1989–2001
Basak Senova

Turkey has been going through incredibly rapid and immense social, political, and cultural changes since the shift to neo-liberal economy in the beginning of the 80’s. While we have been simply going through these changes, we have neither been able to record them nor have been aware of their speed. Our lives have been transformed. To slow down the pace of these changes and to visualize such a data would enable us to understand and to confront the details that lie behind the reasons for these changes and their effects on us.

Today, media collects and distributes images for us with immense speed and magnitude. We are surrounded by these images; and more than ever, all communication technologies -as efficient apparatus of late capitalism- infuse our lives with vast attacks of images. Nevertheless, we have also learned from the same sources that the meaning of any image is dependent upon the context. It is not only the images, but also the ideologies and realities behind the images that are being created for us.

In this respect, “Postcapital” archive developed by Daniel García Andújar ironically shoots back with the same gun by detecting lapses in our perception and explanation of political, cultural, economic, social, and even technological conditions and realities. He indexes our cognitive mechanisms. Andújar’s project strives to make sensible connections between mediated images of an immense and chaotic pile. His intention is building a system that helps the viewer/user to correlate incidents of certain periods from different time slates of a decade via multidirectional links.

Thus, almost magically, the sequence in the flow of images throughout a timeline builds a certain statement, while a new syntax via another order with exactly the same images might state a completely different ideology. Hence, if we are given access to the entire archive, we acquire the potential to extract and dismiss the intentionally tweaked or altered information from a streaming media.

Nevertheless, aside from the intentionally distorted information, the tremendous speed in the flow of mediated images prevents us from perceiving and digesting such an enormous mass of information all at once. At this very point, the networks and the networked achieves of information function as the indexing engine for us. We receive, perceive, interpret or misinterpret, utilize information through networks.  It’s true that we live in achieves, but accessing and making use of their content solely depends on how much we are acquainted with and use networks.  Yet, this opportunity never allows us to be free with our actions and expressions within a network, whether a network is distributed or centralized.  Galloway argues that “without a shared protocol, there is no network”1, and draws our attention to the fact that there is no real freedom of the Internet –worldwide network of networks, which is decentralized- due to the nature of protocol (“of contradiction between two opposing machines”), which both “radically distributes control into autonomous bodies” and “focuses control into rigidly defined hierarchies.”2 Hence, no matter whether they sound democratic and non-hierarchical, distributed networks, computing technology, and protocol –as Galloway puts it- all together create the new “apparatus of control” that characterizes our contemporary setting.

For this very reason, Daniel García Andújar’s project Postcapital. Archive 1989-2001 is significant in various levels for the understanding of control mechanisms, which systematically compose our lives through networked archives and their interfaces. These archives operate in various layers of our daily perception and realization through the re-designing of life styles; procedures of auto-control; re-perception of histories; generating modes for social psychology; constructing communication channels; and particularly, through technological embodiment.

1. Galloway, Alexander. (2004). Protocol: How Control Exists After Decentralization. Cambridge: MIT Press p.12.
2. ibid. p.8.

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One response to “On Archives and Networks”

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