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HSS8121: Media Archaeology

 What is Media Archaeology

According to Jussi Parikka and Erkki Huhtamo,

It investigates “alternate histories of suppressed, neglected, and forgotten media that do not point teleologically to the present media-cultural condition…” (Huhtamo & Parikka,Media Archaeology, 2011 ).

And Geert Lovink says,

‘Media archaeology is first and foremost a methodology, a hermeneutic reading of the “new” against the grain of the past, rather than a telling of the history of technologies from past to present. No comprehensive overview of the media archaeology approach is yet available, but we could mention a few scholars, such as Friedrich Kittler, Siegfried Zielinski, Werner Nekes, Jona- than Crary, Katherine Hayles, Werner Künzel, Avital Ronell, Christoph Asendorf, Erkki Huhtamo, Paul Virilio and others.’
(Lovink, My First Recession – Critical Internet Culture in Transition, 2003)

’In his Archaeology of the Cinema C. W. Ceram states: “What matters history is not whether certain chance discov- eries take place, but whether they take effect.”4 When Hertz experimented with electromagnetic waves he meant to prove Maxwell’s mathematical calcu- lations of the electromagnetic field; almost by accident he thereby practically invented radio transmission technology.5 How can we write media history when media systems create their Eigenzeit?’ (Ernst, Digital Memory and the Archive, 2013, p57)

We can say that Media Archaeology is not a single methodology, but an orientation – a direction which is common to a loose group of researchers (a lot of whom are German and related to a particular kind of german media theory and philosophy) and a particular flavour of research. If methodology is ‘a system of methods used in a particular area of study or activity’ (OED) then really Media Archaeology exists at a level of abstraction above this. It is an associated set of theories, methods, methodologies and skills which emphasise a close reading of technology itself, not just in its ability to be a cultural phenomenon. As Friedrich Kittler says:

‘History is not a list of, “directors, stars, studios and celebrities, which in the end remains organised around a series of titles” ‘ (Kittler, Optical Media, p. 26).

As Ernst summarises,

‘Equally close to disciplines that analyze material (hard- ware) culture and to the Foucauldian notion of the “archive” as the set of rules governing the range of what can be verbally, audiovisually, or alphanumeri- cally expressed at all, media archaeology is both a method and an aesthetics of practicing media criticism, a kind of epistemological reverse engineering, and an awareness of moments when media themselves, not exclusively humans anymore, become active “archaeologists” of knowledge.’ (Ernst, Digital Memory and the Archive, 2013, p55)

In practice

Although he is not usually referred to in the ‘canon’ of MA, we could look at Matthew Kirschenbaum’s archival practice with electronic literature as an example of MA in practice.

Meanwhile Wolfgang Ernst frequently uses the spatial and temporal specifics of technological kinds of writing to discuss and problematise the way we understand time and in particular historical narrative.

‘…the historical mode of describing temporal processes has been confronted with alternative modelings of time, When it comes to describing media in time, this aporia becomes crucial, since one can no longer simply subject media processes to a literary narrative without fundamentally misreading and misrepresenting their Eigenzeit. Historical media narratives take place in imaginary time. Storage technologies, on the other hand, take place in the symbolic temporal order…’ (Ernst, Huhtamo and Parikka, Media Archaeology, 2011, p. 242)

‘But is radio, when playing, ever in a historical state? Is it not in fact always in a present state? The medium only appears to conform to the logic of historical epochal concepts; in actuality, it undermines this logic and sets a different temporal economy. For example, an original record- ing resonating today from an old tube radio, provided it can still run on 220 volts, hardly makes history audible. A tube radio thus practices compressed time with respect to our sensory perception, as long as this is not overlaid with “historical meaning,” which corresponds not to the actual media work- ings of radio but rather to the logic of inscribed historiography.’ (Ernst, Digital Memory and the Archive, 2013, p159)

Ernst makes the point that our language and methods of discussing, and modelling time in terms of historical narratives just aren’t up to the task of considering what technological (particularly electronic and computational) media actually do.

He also has a lot of interesting things to say about counting,

‘The numerical order, the basis of digital technologies, has always already been performed as a cultural practice before becoming technically materialized.’ (Telling vs Counting in, Ernst, Digital Memory and the Archive, 2013, p147)

To tell, we learn, as a transitive verb, means not only “to give a live account in speech or writing of events or facts” (that is, to tell a story) but also “to count things” (to tell a rosary, for example). The very nature of digital operations and telling thus coincide.’ (Telling vs Counting in, Ernst, Digital Memory and the Archive, 2013, p147-8)

The conjunction between telling stories and counting time is more than just a word game: verbs like conter, contar, raccontare, erzählen, and to tell are testimonies to a way of perceiving realities that oscillates between narrative and statistics.’ (Telling vs Counting in, Ernst, Digital Memory and the Archive, 2013, p149)

I found this work (actually earlier published versions of this work) extremely compelling during the early stages of making this piece, Mark Inscriber.

Ernst also maintains the Medienarchäologischer ‘fundus‘.

In Art Practice

Often this work takes the past as a point for a future imaginary.

Jamie Allen’s ‘The Lie Machine

Pablo Garcia’s ‘Profilography

Imaginary Magnitude, By Stanislaw Lem

And (though he doesn’t use this term himself) we could think of our own Diego Trujillo-Pisanty’s most excellent ‘This Tape Will Self-destruct‘.

In Pedagogy

We’ve previously talked about Julian Oliver’s work. He and Danja Vasiliev have a series of workshops around understanding network fundamentals. Jussi Parka points out that,

‘We can speculate that such ideas and practices as Weise7- group’s are an indirect response to what Geert Lovink (2012: 22) has called the need for ‘materialist (read: hardware- and software- focused) and affect-related theory.’ In this case, theory is not executed only in the normal written format but as engineered situations: the other material infrastructures and modes of expression in which power operates, from code to networks.’ Parikka (critically engineered wireless politics, 2013)

He notes that,

‘In real time computing systems, however, the collection, organization and storage of information leads directly to action, to integrated surveillance and control over the object environment. This dynamic marriage of information and control in real time systems is a fusion of knowledge and action, and, through directed action in real time, information is expressed as power. (Sackman, 1968: 1492) (in Parikka,critically engineered wireless politics, 2013)

These workshops (and others like them) are oriented towards a kind of techno-politics based on hacking intervention and self-enablement (however genuine this ends up being). There’s a like-spirited endeavour in this paper which I saw present in Xcoax – a symposium you should all make yourselves aware of.

Memory

What does the Sack piece tell us about the way that memory has been conceived of in the history of computer science?

Warren Sack in: Fuller, Matthew. Software studies: A lexicon. Mit Press, 2008.

Electronic Memory in Practice

In this section we are going to have an archaeological look, a dig in fact, at electronic memory. To do this properly there are a certain number of things we need to understand first.

Binary

how does binary work?

1 bit – 2 possible states
2 bit – 4 possible states
3 bit – 8 possible states
4 bit – 16 possible states
5 bit – 32 possible states
6 bit – 64 possible states
7 bit – 128 possible states
8 bit (a byte) – 256 possible states

Here’s a way of working out the value:

(image cc wikivisual 2015)

(then add the results : 32+8+2=42)

And here’s another way:

how to read binary

(image cc wikivisual 2015)

(then, again, add the results : 32+8+2=42)

This is how we combine single bits to create more and more memory. But what we are interested in is how, on a the level of both logic and components, this works.

Latches and Flip flops

Latches and flip flops (we can talk about the difference – it depends who you ask) are an essential part of computer memory. Some version of this circuit is inside the most fundamental aspects of computer memory. They are therefore massively significant in thinking about what we mean when we say ‘computer memory’. We are going to build a state saving circuit ( a flip flop) and use it to explore what we do and don’t know about digital memory and how we can use that as part of a research and creative methodology.

History and archaeology of the flip flop.

Here’s the original patent, designed with vacuum tubes.

And what do vacuum tubes do?

How does it work?

Let’s hear a nice (rather slow) explanation.  To understand what flipflops are and why they are important we first need to know a few things.

Like what is boolean logic?

How can we combine two NOR gates into an OR gate? Simple (ish)! We invert it! See a bunch of examples here. Take one and explain it to your partner!

Step one: Building a NOR gate

This circuit uses transistors

Transistors are manufactured in different shapes but they have three leads (legs).
The BASE – which is the lead responsible for activating the transistor.
The COLLECTOR – which is the positive lead.
The EMITTER – which is the negative lead.

(http://www.technologystudent.com/elec1/transis1.htm)

 

Here’s our circuit diagram. (and below obviously)

Step Two: Combine two NOR gates into a flip flop.

Look at the diagram below. How should we wire up our NORs to make a flip flop?

2 NORs making a flip flop. CC wikimedia

 

It works, what next?

A flip flop gives us a single bit, held in memory (as long as there is power). Here are somethings I want us to discuss:

  • what is the significance of holding one piece of memory – what can that memory mean? What can it do? Wittgenstein asks of a man given a piece of paper which asks for 5 apples, the following ‘But how does he know where and how he is to look up the word ‘red’ and what he is to do with the word ‘five’?” Well, I assume that he acts as I have described. Explanations come to an end somewhere.—But what is the meaning of the word ‘five’? No such thing was in question here, only how the word ‘five’ is used.’ What do we mean when we say a bit ‘means’?
  • Now imagine we have an encoding system for that bit. e.g. 0 = ‘apple’, 1=’pear’. How does that affect the above?
  • Stepping outside this question for a moment – how many real-world applications for the storage of one bit of information can you think of? How about for 2 or 3 bits?
  • If we all combined our individual bits into a large register – what could we store? How could we act?

But Why? Let’s talk about that

  • What elements of media archaeology (if any) do you identify in your work?
  • What would be the impact of this method?
  • Returning to our project, how could you take this exploration of digital memory further, how would you develop it?

 

Suggested readings

What is Media Archaeology? Parikka, 2012, Polity

Media Archaeology, Huhtamo & Parikka (eds), 2010

Digital Memory and the Archive, Ernst, 2012, University of Minnesota Press

Deep Time of the Media, Zielinkski, 2008, MIT Press

 

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Current Students

Students currently studying Master in Creative Arts Practice

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Adrian ParkBen HoldenIsobel Taylor
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Ewelina Aleksandrowicz (Tikul)

 

HSS8123 – An Index of Plagiarisms

Now that the pamphlets for my final project are mostly done, here’s an attempt at to list all the different sources and techniques I used in creating them:

SOURCES:
Summary Judgement
The Big Bang Theory (TV show)
Soft Kitty – Edith Newlin (song)
“Let’s Go Crazy” #1 – Stephanie Lenz (video)
Let’s Go Crazy – Prince (song)
Photograph – Ed Sheeran (song)
Amazing – Matt Cardle (song)
Ice Ice Baby – Vanilla Ice (song)
Under Pressure – Queen (song)
Chocolat – Mi Casa (song)
Chocolate – DJ Novi (song)
Blurred Lines – Robin Thicke (song)
Got to Give It Up (Marvin Gaye)
Melissa Ferrick (musician)
Spotify (music website)
Napster (file-sharing website)

Beautiful Infighting
Catcall – Rob Bliss (film)
Shoshana Roberts (actress)
Starr Mazer DSB – Imagos Softworks (game)
Alex Mauer (musician)
Cool Cat Saves the Kids – Derek Savage (film)
Review of Cool Cat Saves the Kids – I Hate Everything (video)
Review of Cool Cat Saves the Kids – Your Movie Sucks (video)
Bold Guy vs Parkour Girl – Matthew Hosseinzadeh (video)
Parody of Bold Guy vs Parkour Girl – h3h3 (video)
The Slaughtering Grounds – Digital Homicide (game)
Review of the Slaughtering Grounds – Jim Sterling (video)

Changelogs
Pokemon Red & Blue Version – Nintendo (game)
Pokemon Silver & Gold Version – Nintendo (game)
Cooking Mama – Nintendo (game)
Super Mario Bros. – Nintendo (game)
Pokemon Uranium Version – InvoluntaryTwitch (game)
Pokemon Black and Blue Version – PETA (game)
Pokemon Red White and Blue Version – PETA (game)
Cooking Mama: Mama Kills Animals – PETA (game)
Mario Kills Tanooki – PETA (game)
Super Meat Boy – Team Meat (game)
Super Tofu Boy – PETA (game)
Bioshock – 2K Games (game)
Fallout – Bethesda (game)
Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest – Konami (game)
CR Pachinko Akumajo Dracula – Konami (pachinko machine)
Donald Trump’s Real Estate Tycoon – Activision Value (game)
Supreme Ruler: Trump Rising – Battlegoat Studios (game)
Super POTUS Trump – Emerson Design Inc (game)
An Index of Plagiarisms in Lanark – Alasdair Grey (prose)

Oulipean Pataphysical Plagiarising Nonsense
The Road Not Taken – Robert Frost (poem)
A Red, Red Rose – Robert Burns (poem)
Funeral Blues – W.H. Auden (poem)
I Found the Quine – Jackie Kay (poem)
Sonnet 18 – Shakespeare (poem)
Daddy – Sylvia Plath (poem)
Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night – Dylan Thomas (poem)
This Be The Verse – Philip Larkin (poem)
Mother Any Distance – Simon Armitage (poem)
Green Eggs and Ham – Dr Seuss (poem)
The Tay Bridge Diasaster – William McGonagall (poem)
To His Coy Mistress – Andrew Marvell (poem)
The Lovesong of J.Alfred Prufrock – T.S. Eliot (poem)
Sonnet 43 – Elizabeth Barrett Browning (poem)
The Lady of Shalott – Alfred Lord Tennyson (poem)
Dulche Et Decorum Est – Wilfred Owen (poem)
The Jabberwocky – C.S. Lewis (poem)
The Waste Land – T.S. Eliot (poem)
Tyger Tyger – William Blake (poem)
Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats – T.S. Eliot (poem)
Halfway Down the Stairs – A.A. Milne (poem)
The Lord of the Rings trilogy – JRR Tolkein (prose)
Dungeons and Dragons – Wizards of the Coast (roleplaying game)
The Golden Shovel – Terrance Hayes (poem)
We Real Cool – Gwendolyn Brooks (poem)
The Workshop of Pataphysical Semantics – Hubert Kowalowski (review)
20 Things I’ve Stolen – David Weinberger (poem)
The Church of Scientology – L. Ron Hubbard (cult)

METHODS (Oulipean and otherwise)
Summary Judgement
Chronograms – derived from the year the lawsuit in question was filed

Beautiful Infighting
Beautiful Inlaw/Beau Presente – derived from the names of the litigious parties involved

Changelogs
Centos – derived by taking lines from various sources and recombining them
Definitional Literature – derived by substituting each word with in the text its dictionary definition
Redaction – derived by blacking out certain parts of the original text
Acrostic/Mesostic/Telostic – poems where the first/middle/last letters spell out a particular word or phrase (often used in combination)
‘Titling’ – taking the title (and first line) of the work from another work
Abecedarian – in which each word begins with the next letter of the alphabet (here combined with an acrostic)

Oulipean Pataphysical Plagiarising Nonsense
Centos – derived by taking lines from various sources and recombining them
Redaction – derived by blacking out certain parts of the original text
‘Find-and-replace’ – derived by replacing the proper nouns of a work with the proper nouns of another work
N+7 – derived by replacing each noun in the text with the next noun in the Dictionary but seven
Golden Shovel – derived by taking each word from the source poem as the final word of each line
Pataphor – derived by replacing non-figurative language with metaphor, then replacing each metaphor with pataphor (i.e. extrapolating it to a new, more literal sense)

HSS8123; Filming

*Finally got around to posting this now that the blog is back up and I’m not as swamped with the project itself.

Filming has finally been done. Given only a week in the sound studio to do what I needed, every hour counted, and it virtually became my home for that time.

The completed first set, and final models in place while filming the first “act.”

The second set, featuring the two characters Enki and Ada, as well as the scrapyard of all the failed test subjects, both in real life and in-universe.

Final set up for the second stage.

For the most part, though hectic and a little tedious at times, filming went rather smoothly. Another friend, an actual photographer, came in early during my week time limit and showed me some pointers on using the equipment I had on loan. As it turned out, my lighting was not idea, and this meant I needed to reshoot the first three scenes as their lighting quality was both bad and inconsistent with the rest of the film. Though some corners were skipped, and some scenes could have perhaps used more frames, I am at least content in knowing that I have plenty of material to actually make the film itself.

HSS8123; The Dog

*Finally got around to posting this now that the blog is back up and I’m not as swamped with the project itself.

My little clay man in his chair, Enki, is only one of two characters integral to the film I’m trying to make. The deuteragonist of the piece is Ada, the cybernetic dog created by Enki as a companion. If I thought the chair was bad, the damn dog was an even lower circle of hell, however. Unlike the chair, which only needed to have moving wheels, Ada requires more flexible movement akin to clay. He needed to be able to move his head, wag his tail, maybe even have movable legs if I was feeling especially ambitious (which, in the end, I wasn’t due to continued time constraints).

I mentioned the issue of scale in the previous post, and with Ada the dog it reared its ugly head again. In order to facilitate head movement, the plan was to incorporate a ball and socket joint into the dog’s model, allowing a fairly free range of movement in a number of directions. Obviously, this joint would have to be fairly small in comparison to the rest of the body, otherwise the proportions would be atrocious, or I’d have to scale the whole thing up to a ridiculous extent. This proved problematic for the printer, and it took many long hours of tinkering and tweaking to finally get a model it could print without horrible deformities.

The many failures of 3D printing, including some of the dog models.

An eventual success. By fixing the ball to the body, and using the joint as a face, it became much easier for the printer to process. The tail I found an elegant solution in a bit of twisted wire hooked around a small stub with a hole in it.

Next was giving the dog some texture or fur that still retained a metallic/cyber feel. This thread was one avenue, but didn’t quite work.

Another attempt at fur. A little too boisterous, and messy, however.

The idea to include fur on the dog was both a visual and technical one. Mostly it meant I wouldn’t need to include legs if the fur was thick enough, easing animation and allowing it to simply float along. As happy as I was with it, I simply couldn’t find anything with the right texture or size to properly act as fur, and so the idea was eventually scrapped.

HSS8123; More Models

*Finally got around to posting this now that the blog is back up and I’m not as swamped with the project itself.

It has been a grind, sometimes literally, but finally starting to get the models in place. Though I’ll likely only be using one, I’ve luckily been able to get some very basic clay sculpting lessons from a friend and have made a few extra tests to get a good feel for size, flexibility, and durability. many of these models are too small to properly use an armature, a vital part of the process. Indeed, many of the hurdles of this project have so far revolved around scale.

If there is one thing I am quite unhappy about with this final model is a lack of hubcaps on the wheels of the chair. I tried glue, a cleaner option, but the material used in the printing process is not very conductive to adhesion, and thus I’ve been forced to use clay as a means of keeping the wheels from falling off. Even that isn’t perfect, and they often have to be adjusted after a little rolling. They are, however, functional, which at this point I will happily take.

HSS8123; More Models

*Finally got around to posting this now that the blog is back up and I’m not as swamped with the project itself.

It has been a grind, sometimes literally, but finally starting to get the models in place. Though I’ll likely only be using one, I’ve luckily been able to get some very basic clay sculpting lessons from a friend and have made a few extra tests to get a good feel for size, flexibility, and durability. many of these models are too small to properly use an armature, a vital part of the process. Indeed, many of the hurdles of this project have so far revolved around scale.

If there is one thing I am quite unhappy about with this final model is a lack of hubcaps on the wheels of the chair. I tried glue, a cleaner option, but the material used in the printing process is not very conductive to adhesion, and thus I’ve been forced to use clay as a means of keeping the wheels from falling off. Even that isn’t perfect, and they often have to be adjusted after a little rolling. They are, however, functional, which at this point I will happily take.

HSS8123; Sets and Models

*Finally got around to posting this now that the blog is back up and I’m not as swamped with the project itself.

 

Having ideas is one thing, making them physical is entirely another. Although I am happy with the ideas I’m currently running with, they have presented many of their own time consuming issues which need to be overcome. On a more positive note, over the past few weeks I’ve at the very least been able to gather most of the materials I’ll need for a set and been able to stitch plans together now knowing how much space I have to work with. The primary idea is to have two sets, one in white to represent the sterile environment of a laboratory while the other is to be of the outside, in a desert and scrapyard to be precise.

Playing around with arts and crafts to see what works.

Prop and environment making. Here we have a computer made from an old alarm clock. The surgery table is made from the back of the same clock, while the arms are wires, floss brushes, and coloured beads.

However, though set building may be going well, model making is not. In the previous post I talked about the prospect of making my main character wheelchair bound, alleviating many of the technical necessities normally part of making stop-motion. However, 3D printing such a chair has been proving to be a headache too; the printer does not work well with small parts, and any item needs to be of a certain scale for a successful print to take place. Getting the chair and accompanying axle and wheels to a size that isn’t too big for my sets or props, but which could also be printed to a decent standard so as to still fit together is proving to be very demanding. Given the speed of printing, this also means many hours are going down the drain.

Early model for a chair. At first glance this may seem perfectly functional, but getting axles and wheels to go with it at such a small scale is proving impossible.

A larger model. Better on scale, but an error near the end of printing meant the chair was not finished.

As exciting a technology as 3D printing is, it’s still very much taking its baby steps, at least as far as our printer is concerned. Beyond the often excruciating time needed to print anything, trying to print anything smaller than an inch is prone to failure. Sometimes this applies even to items on larger scales – the printer is prone to jamming and other errors, and when one such failure occurs the entire print needs to be started again. After, of course, a lengthy repair period.

HSS8123; Sets and Models

*Finally got around to posting this now that the blog is back up and I’m not as swamped with the project itself.

 

Having ideas is one thing, making them physical is entirely another. Although I am happy with the ideas I’m currently running with, they have presented many of their own time consuming issues which need to be overcome. On a more positive note, over the past few weeks I’ve at the very least been able to gather most of the materials I’ll need for a set and been able to stitch plans together now knowing how much space I have to work with. The primary idea is to have two sets, one in white to represent the sterile environment of a laboratory while the other is to be of the outside, in a desert and scrapyard to be precise.

Playing around with arts and crafts to see what works.

Prop and environment making. Here we have a computer made from an old alarm clock. The surgery table is made from the back of the same clock, while the arms are wires, floss brushes, and coloured beads.

However, though set building may be going well, model making is not. In the previous post I talked about the prospect of making my main character wheelchair bound, alleviating many of the technical necessities normally part of making stop-motion. However, 3D printing such a chair has been proving to be a headache too; the printer does not work well with small parts, and any item needs to be of a certain scale for a successful print to take place. Getting the chair and accompanying axle and wheels to a size that isn’t too big for my sets or props, but which could also be printed to a decent standard so as to still fit together is proving to be very demanding. Given the speed of printing, this also means many hours are going down the drain.

Early model for a chair. At first glance this may seem perfectly functional, but getting axles and wheels to go with it at such a small scale is proving impossible.

A larger model. Better on scale, but an error near the end of printing meant the chair was not finished.

As exciting a technology as 3D printing is, it’s still very much taking its baby steps, at least as far as our printer is concerned. Beyond the often excruciating time needed to print anything, trying to print anything smaller than an inch is prone to failure. Sometimes this applies even to items on larger scales – the printer is prone to jamming and other errors, and when one such failure occurs the entire print needs to be started again. After, of course, a lengthy repair period.

HSS8123 – Success!

Well, that didn’t take long. In fact, it took less than a minute for an unlisted video to get blocked, so either the ghost of Prince was standing right behind me when I uploaded it, or it YouTube’s algorithms are pretty good at policing video content. Good to know.

HSS8123 – …aaand we’re back!

Which is to say the course blog is back up and I’m back, with two weeks off from my new job to really knuckle down and make all the scattered ideas from the last few months into a coherent reality.

Here are the three posts that went up on my other blog while this one was down: one to introduce my degree project on my personal blog, two a poem about theft by David Weinburger (which I discovered while researching and really resonates with what I’m trying to do) and three excerpts from my final project.

And finally, some more teasers in the form of video/image collages that came about as a byproduct of the poems I’ve been writing:

More documentation and excerpts to follow, although I might find myself focusing more on the dissertation as opposed to writing the kinds of explanatory posts I normally do. We’ll see, I’d like to write something about the Oulipo and Lawrence Lessig, and maybe some of the bits and bobs of plagiarism that I don’t feel like I’ll be able to give enough context in the work itself.

 

 

Creative Project – Post 3

Screen Shot 2017-03-10 at 19.06.13

The Erasure – Experiment 1

There is something strangely cathartic about drowning a photo in red wine.” – Me (2017)

My bulk order of photographs has arrived. All versions of the same photo, which over the course of this project will be mutilated, mauled, drowned and otherwise abused as a means of illustrating a tangible reflection of erased personal connections to landscapes, memories and material objects.

This first experiment is done using what I found lying around in my kitchen. Eventually I’ll progress to using harsher chemicals and substances, but as a control I wanted to see how the photographs reacted to everyday liquids. I have also placed a photograph in my South facing window to see how much of an effect sunlight and fading has on it.

Annoyingly the photos didn’t fit into my scientific containers (Chinese takeout tubs) and had to have their edges trimmed and rounded.

Red wine

Anyone that has ever received a gift from me will know that I save up all of the bottles of wine I’m given for Christmas and re-distribute them as gifts to other people throughout the year. As there are no upcoming birthdays, celebrations or whatever, I thought I might as well put the nasty red wine to good use. Pouring red wine over the photograph was oddly cathartic. I’m not a wine drinker/enjoyer, so this is probably the most fun I have ever had with wine, which says more about me and my idea of a good time than it should. But red wine is one of those shady bastards that you’re never meant to spill on anything because YOU WILL NEVER GET IT OUT! So intentionally pouring it over something with the purpose of destroying said thing was so freeing. I don’t think white wine would have had the same effect.

Boiling water

The boiling water was the only liquid to have an immediate effect on the photo. It immediately became flaccid and lost paper quality. In the long term, I think this will most likely change the least.

Bison grass vodka

The awful vodka someone gave me as a 21st birthday present finally has a use, almost 3 years later. This experiment essentially became a way to get rid of the unwanted alcohol that has been sitting at the back of my kitchen cupboards. Apparently mixes well with apple juice (the bottle lies about this, it tastes bloody awful and has grass floating in it.)

The solutions will now sit and wallow until something happens. Afterwards they will be air dried, and potentially sculpted into something, depending how they look. There are 5 months until they’re due to be submitted so they have plenty of time to form cultures or dissolve or sit there and not do anything. (Yes this was written in March but scheduled to be posted in July because I’m predicting that I will have no free time during the summer). According to the North-East Document Conservation Centre:

Photographs in water will quickly deteriorate: images can separate from mounts, emulsions can dissolve or stick together, and staining can occur. Mold can grow within 48 hours at 60% relative humidity and 70°F, and it often causes permanent staining and other damage to photographs.‘ [https://www.nedcc.org/free-resources/preservation-leaflets/3.-emergency-management/3.7-emergency-salvage-of-wet-photographs Last Accessed 10th March 2017]

So hopefully something should happen if they are left submerged for long enough. There are 5 months until they’re due to be submitted so they have plenty of time to form cultures or dissolve or sit there and not do anything. (Yes this was written in March but scheduled to be posted in July because I’m predicting that I will have no free time during the summer).

Also a little shout out to the really cool way the water one reflects back onto itself. May have to experiment with projecting into water.

Coming up next time… Vinegar and bicarbonate of soda. Plus maybe a little dabbling with bathroom cleaner and bleach. Perhaps adding salt to the water solution to see if this has any effect.

Once I have sourced better containers and better chemicals to play around with this should get more exciting. Going back to Jennifer Bouchard’s work from the last post, I may also begin to play around with physically manipulating the photographs using temperature – sticking them in the microwave, oven, freezer etc.