“Spikning” Cermony for Para-Archives: Rethinking Personal Archiving Practices in the Times of Capture Culture

Download full-text of Para-Archives: Rethinking Personal Archiving Practices in the Times of Capture Culture by Jacec Smolicki here

The public defence will take place on Friday 15 December at 13:15 in auditorium B (B0E07) at Niagara.

This study explores possibilities for alternative forms for personal archiving in the context of contemporary techno-culture and dominant forms of capturing personal data. An intensified proliferation of various capturing technologies and mechanisms concerned with collecting, storing and analyzing personal data let us locate personal archiving as one of the major everyday media practices that people engage in today, both voluntarily and involuntarily. The main point of departure for this thesis is a recognition of a certain polarization of perspectives and debates on personal archiving practices prompted by this new techno-cultural condition. If on hand we are presented with an enthusiastic scenario of a certain infallibility of digital memory and possibility to fully control the way one construct’s his/her digital archive, the opposite view confronts us with a pessimistic vision of a full penetrability of our digital repositories (and hence everyday lives), ever more tightly constrained by the imperceptible dynamics of network technologies. In this thesis I investigate a possibility to move beyond these ramifications and seek for alternative modes of personal archiving by engaging in a practice-based research and media archaeological inquiry into (archival) media histories. The thesis proposes a concept of para-archiving which denotes a practice of recording subsets of everyday life that takes place in parallel to a range of voluntary and involuntary capturing and archival mechanisms, procedures and practices in today’s highly technologized everyday life. Among other examples, as a major case bring in my own personal archiving practices I have been regularly conducting for last seven years and which in various ways appropriate a range of portable and affordable personal technologies of today to record and para-archive various aspects of everyday life. I use my practice as a vehicle allowing me to examine implications of today’s pervasive technologies on for example material, performative and agential aspects of personal memory and archiving practices. By drawing on my practice and inviting a range of thematically related aesthetic practices into the picture I also intend to invigorate the pallet of methodological approaches within the field of media and communications studies. While located within the field of Media and Communications the thesis borrows also from such fields as Philosophy of Technology, Media Archaeology, Cultural Studies and Media Arts.