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April 15, 2016

Instead of describing memory changes in terms of crisis and loss, we may also choose to see them as pointers toward new modes of understanding “sharing,” “transfer,” “influence,” and “contact” in short, as vectors of collectivity. In this workshop we will discuss the new technologies of memory from perspectives that explicitly investigate their impact on the very conceptualization or “modeling” of the social.


Our point of departure will be a media-archeological perspective where phenomena and processes that characterize contemporary digital culture are seen not as the current phase of a historical development, but as part of a discursive formation that also includes pre-digital media such as film, photography, sound recording and video technologies. Such an approach traces changes in the conception of memory through an emphasis on the specific operations and affordances of modern time technologies a perspective that supplements a more conventional emphasis on media contents and use. We will discuss how our understanding of social memory changes once we take into account the nonhuman memory capacities of time technologies whose modes of operation and forms of temporalization are not necessarily aligned with the demands of human perception. Such machines not only alert us to the multiple temporalities of memory, but also to the complexities arising from the fact that social theories now, to a large extent, evolve out of entirely new types of data.

We will look at how this shift in the relation between technology, memory and the social was articulated, in a rudimentary form, in certain early electronic art practices. As it happens, early analog video art was a site of intensive social experimentation and reflexivity, particularly oriented around the question of memory and collectivity. We will look at the early video/television work of Center for Advanced Visual Studies (CAVS)-affiliated artists such as Aldo Tambellini and Antoni Muntadas, and also (time permitting) at the work of Paul Ryan and Frank Gillette, who were both closely associated with the journal Radical Software.

Ina Blom  is professor in the Department of Philosophy, Classics, History of Art and Ideas at the University of Oslo, specializing in modern and contemporary art with an emphasis on the relationship between art, media, and technology. She is also an art critic, contributing to Artforum, Afterall, Parkett, and Texte zur Kunst. Her most recent books include On the Style Site: Art, Sociality, and Media Culture (2007/2009) and The Autobiography of Video: The Life and Times of a Memory Technology (2016). The anthology Memory in Motion: Archives, Technology and the Social is forthcoming in June 2016.