The Act of Archiving

After reading Derrida’s Archive Fever, I was left without a concrete idea of what he meant by “archive”. He acknowledges that sometimes one archives solely due to a “radical perversion”, meaning one only makes the decision to archive their work because of a fear of loss or being forgotten. The act of archiving involves putting information out there to be remembered, but one cannot include everything so some information is purposely left out to be presumably forgotten forever.
In Freud’s day, things like space and time were considered when sending a letter. But now, e-mail makes sharing information immediate, but can also change the “entire public and private space of humanity”. Freud could purposely leave out information when he had his pen to paper, but e-mails are archived ideas and can be stored and looked at forever. If e-mail had been around in Freud’s time we have to wonder how much more exchanged information we would be able to access from him. But unfortunately, letters were not archived like e-mails are archived now. When something is shared on the electronic world, factors like space and time are eliminated. Immediately “likes” and “comments” are appearing across the screen, which means it has already been archived and saved forever whether we like it or not.
The way information is put together and stored can influence how humans behave and therefore influence culture. When we look back in time, before photographs, writing and painting were a way to describe and archive events. Now, photographs and videos are huge in our culture. For some people, unless there is a photo or video of an event, it does not seem as real for them. For many, seeing an event versus reading about it can have a stronger impact on them. For me, I feel a combination of words and photos are best for sharing information, because how can just photos show an event that occurred accurately if every person interprets that photo differently?
“A photograph is a meeting place where the interests of the photographer, the photographed, the viewer, and those who are using the photographs are often contradictory. These contradictions both hide and increase the natural ambiguity of the photographic image.”
– John Berger

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