1. Introduction

Notes on Readings – Introduction


In general, archives consist of records that have been selected for permanent or long-term preservation on grounds of their enduring cultural, historical, or evidentiary value. Archival records are normally unpublished and almost always unique, unlike books or magazines for which many identical copies exist. This means that archives are quite distinct from libraries with regard to their functions and organization, although archival collections can often be found within library buildings

I have to admit that I became immersed in reading about archives – too immersed really and so it was hard to retrace my steps back to the present. Pre-internet I would have read much less I think, having to buy books or access them through the library. Now I can access information, including archives, at my fingertips and I am overwhelmed with the plethora of information available n the Internet.  Just as Erik Kessels  represented the avalanche of photographs uploaded to Flickr during 24 hours, interdisciplinary artist Michael Mandiberg  represented the immensity of information contained on online Wikipedia.  His work “traces the lines of political and symbolic power online, working on the internet in order to comment on and or intercede in the real and poetic flows of information”. Mandiberg wrote software that analyses the content of the English-language Wikipedia database and relayed this to print. This resulted in 7600 volumes which were then uploaded to Lulu.com for print on demand. There was an Exhibition at Denny Gallery , comprising a performance of the upload to Lulu.com and an exhibition of  a selection of volumes from the project.

the point was made that once a volume is printed it is already out of date because the contents of Wikipedia are constantly revised and updated

Even so, when the word ‘archives’ is mentioned, my immediate thoughts are of long dusty corridors; layers of shelves with dusty old papyrus scrolls and manuscripts.  I imagine long-held secrets hidden away from view and known to only a few. Knowledge is power and power is knowledge. My romantic vision due to so many books and films, such as the Name of the Rose etc. History can teach us so much and we hang on to its evidence even though we don’t seem to put the learning into practice. When I was at school history was all about Kings Queens and battles fought. I accepted this as facts not realising then that history books are interpretations of facts, in fact they may sometimes owe more to fantasy.  It was only after I left school and studied social and economic history that I learned more about the how and why events happened as they did and learned to look for the bias and the context of the writer.

I have in mind a particular topic for my Assignment and so I’ve attempted to focus my summary notes on what might be pertinent to this, sometimes successful and sometimes less so. I’ll return to this when I reflect on the completed Assignment.