Talkshop Mumories: Living Archives

Margarita Osipian So in March of this year (2023), our group was part of the ‘In-between Media Conference’, which was organized by the Institute Network Cultures. And one of the sessions that we had was called ‘A Living Archive is Also a Dying Archive’. textKate Babin reported on this session student in the back Nietzsche said that forgetting is necessary to imagine. Poor large language models that do not forget anything :( in an article that she wrote for INC. Kate Babin, ‘Expert Session: A Living Archive is also a Dying Archive (Conference Report, day 2)’, Institute of Network Cultures, 31 March 2023, In it, she mentioned the work of Eric Kluitenberg, who was working on the topic of living archives. So textI'm just going to quote Kate here where she writes:

Kluitenberg explores the connection between living memories and digital archives in his essay Captured Alive: on Living Memory and Digital Archives. Due to memory existing in certain cultural contexts and situated in the biological body of those that hold the memories, different elements of an archive will recontextualize those memories. Kuitenberg writes: ‘Memories evolve, mutate, blur, and are continuously recontextualized by new experiences. Sometimes memories are forgotten or apparently forgotten, only to re-emerge at the most unexpected moments.’

Margarita I think this also touches on Angelique’s memory as well, audiowith Bjork's song. I think this quote is really fitting for our thinking processes and how we were thinking together when we were imagining the different forms that an exhibition space’s archive could take. So bringing the topic back to life spans and collapse, I wanted to bring in one of our guests who’s joining us online, Michael Murtaugh, and he’s directing the Experimental Publishing Masters at the Willem de Kooning Academy in Rotterdam. kendal i need that link He’s also a member and part-time co-system administrator for Constant VZW in Brussels and works in a cross-disciplinary collective modestly named the Institute for Computational Vandalism (which is a really great name). So, Michael, it would be great if you could maybe speak about your own approach to archives in the work that you do, especially in relation to the dying or the collapsing archive.

Michael Murtaugh Thanks for the intro. What I pulled in may connect to some of the people who are also there. Actually, the question of the life spans made me think a bit about something audioI once heard Spider Alex talk about. And Spider Alex is a system administrator for a kind of feminist server network and in particular works at spaceCalafou, in Barcelona. In fact, actually, this was a quote that I found on Varia’s website from audioa radio broadcast that they did on A Traversal Network of Feminist Servers:

We went for the division between containers that would be hosting living data — data that needs to be available, our wiki, or the WordPress — data that should not be down. And then the transitional container is more for installing services that enable you to produce data that are needed for a while and then can go, like websiteOpenSondage or Framadate, or sending encrypted files and making surveys. It’s for temporal data. And then finally, we have another container that we call the ‘Feminist Necro Cemetery’. That is an archive of feminist and zombie websites. We try to identify interesting communities, websites that are going to be closing soon and try to make a copy of those websites to have them in the archive, in a static form. We have the possibility to have them in zombie form before, meaning that if people give us a copy of the database, we can host it for them. And if one day the other people want to bring those websites alive again, we can put them in contact so they can do it.

Michael Anyway, it’s just kind of interesting. I think a lot about these kinds of different types of living archives — and indeed the fact that it’s not just living and dead, but it’s this whole life cycle of ‘preparing’ for things, then ‘during’ things, and then ‘after’ things. e.zn And of course, it intersects with key questions, such as how does a site need to be edited and by whom, and what’s the temporality of that? kendal 🙏

About this Text

This intermission is a snippet from the radio show ‘Talkshop: Living Archives’ on RaRaRadio, hosted by the Living Archives group of Going Hybrid. It was played as an audio clip during the livestream of Screentime Airtime Facetime. You can listen to the full radio show through this link:, or watch it during the livestream (with visuals by Giulia Timis) here: