Aaron Guy, “Working with the Archive” Lecture Notes (30.10.13)


Archives are documents but provide evidence and information. Zines offer an interesting view of the world, somewhat cutting edge. Archives are very dry material, scientific and mathematical often used by geologists. The pioneers within photography have always been explorers and geologists, those who are interested in seeing the world, coming home, refining it and saying, “This is the world”. It reveals something pivotal and bigger.  Archives and data provide a lot more information compared to locating such information on the Internet. Information on our online environments is often fluid, fleeting and eventually lost. Archives force us to slow down, physically handle and really experience them. To sought out the information and discover new things. Archives are a lot more in depth, sophisticated and academic. Using maps for example, in photography is becoming quite common. Archives, data and research within the pages can be used as a resource to make new work, build a broader narrative and be inspired by. The goal must be to go away having grasped all the important information, ensuring you tell their stories accurately and effectively. One can become lost in the world of images and information but Guy is more than comfortable with such immersion. But how does one generate a priority list? Are some archives and data more important than others? What raw material should be digitalized? How does one distinguish this?

Archives offer the chance to discover new, unknown information and images in an entirely new and absorbing way. The more and more you explore, the more you realise how unified and well-put together archives are. They’re more relevant and precise, so much so they curate and narrate themselves. Archives offer a more personal experience as opposed to scanning everything and dealing with it online. Human experience with information is of utmost importance. Dealing with physical objects and prints can give people something to relate to. There is a massive variation in the quality of the books and archives, their purpose and context widely varies, ultimately covering everything. Having physical information is important so much so Guy archives his online environment, images, emails, Skype conversations are all transformed from the digital to the physical. This information could become lost, everything online could potentially disappear and so it’s a conscious decision to archive it all to avoid losing information and memories across time. “Computers make you lazy, if you let them”. We need to manage and filter our online environments to avoid losing our data. But how does one choose what to keep and discard?

Guy hopes to take these various archives and publish them into concise and completed books. Presentation of the information is vital, referencing and context necessary. Taking the information and creating a physical book or putting it online in a photo film or gif transforms the archives into something else, something new. As a result they are entirely different versions of the original information that possess the same story. But is it right to take them out of their original context? What are we gaining? How do we piece together the information to tell the story?

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