Tuesday, February 27, 2018

CFP:Encountering the Archive: Simulations, Manipulations, and Debunking April 5-6, 2018 School of Arts and Aesthetics, JNU.

Concept Note:
At an hour when China is deciding to rate its citizens based on digital data records and social media is beginning to look like quasi-archives of its users, one must return to questions of information keeping and the archive that plague our everyday. Both Foucault and Derrida remind us of the archive’s claim to authority, their architectural prowess, and their claims to the production of knowledge itself. Derrida traces the archive to its Greek roots of Arkhe as the site “..there where things commence- physical, historical, or ontological principle- but also according to the law, there where men and gods command, there where authority, social order are exercised, in this place from which order is given- nomological principle”. From the impressive Greek edifices, archives today have come to signify any process of storing and accumulating information, digital or analogue, electronic or otherwise, that can be tabulated, computed and phished out when demanded.

The archive is both dogmatically transparent and astutely concealed. On one hand, the archive organizes and stores its data with finesse, thereby inviting its users to glean from it. And yet, the archiving medium, made fragile by time, belies such an easy invitation. The archive encoded through specific medium, like data servers, paper, pen, tapes, microfilms etc., posit themselves as protecting, or concealing material, readily available for use. This dialectic between storage and retrieval complicates the objectives of an archive, so that every archive must find its own synthesis between these two purposes. This dialectic becomes all the more prominent when we view the troubled relationship between the contemporary and the archive, between the object’s waxing and waning in time. The contemporary, in many ways, averts historicization. It is both what we are intimate with, and yet remains in darkness, a relationship of profound dissonance, disjunction and anachronism. Therefore, to archive in the contemporary then is find ourselves in a temporal bind.

In art practice comprising visual, cinema, theatre and performance studies, we have explored the term “archive” through a multiplicity of methodologies. With the shift from artist-as-curator to artist as archivist, we investigate the realm of images (still/moving, analogue/digital, etc.) as they relate to the archive, and how they have charted a shift away from paper-based archives since the latter half of the nineteenth century. We study how their forms, the systems that produce them, the modes and techniques of perception and the circulation networks they engage in have produced a new imagination of the archive. In this we also ask where is the archive – are they the primary spaces from archives and museums, to newer modalities of cloud and hard drives, or the site and the field – the repository of all those unfound traces? With the coming of technologies of mechanical reproduction, archives collecting audio-visual documents such as photographs, films, videos and sound recordings are caught in the double bind of preserving the past, and the threat of preserving too much of it, generating only “an archive of noise”, which escapes the control of the archons, historians or artists who use them. We are persistently raising the question whether performance is that which disappears or that which persists transmitted through a non-archival system of transfer, a kind of knowing-in-the-flesh called the repertoire. These bring about a shift in our understanding of the archivist, who Ginzburg would now identify with the hunter, who is a reader of obtuse signs who had to reconstruct shapes and movements of invisible prey from detritus (foot tracks, excreta, etc.) and commit such knowledge to motor-reflex memory.

In a New historicist tenor where we embrace that “the real” is never accessible as such, this conference invites debates, performances and artwork around the spectral presence of the archive, which we must at the same time concretize and dissolve.

Suggested topics for these may include (though not limited to):
• Archive and the Field
• De-colonizing, de-brahmanizing and queering the archive
• Materiality of the modern archive
• Database aesthetics and the archive 
• The body and the archive 
• The artist as archivist 
• Archive and the production of knowledge 
• Memory and the archive 
• Waste/ Detritus/ Noise and its relation to the archive
• Found footage and documentary film-making

We invite proposals from ALL disciplines, in the form of 250-300 word abstracts or video clips or audio recordings of 6-7mins or in a visual template(interested participants will be mailed the template). Please mail your proposals saastudentsconference@gmail.com by 23:59 hrs. 15th March, 2018.

Due to paucity of funds, we would not be able to give travel allowance to outstation candidates. However, your food and lodging will be looked after. There is no registration fee to take part in this conference.