We need the past. Memories make us who we are. And when there are no memories we have diaries, written accounts and documents, pictures perhaps, and, above all, things. History, and who we are, lies in the remains of the past ...

In archives

Archives - the store rooms of humanity - what has come down to the present.

Archive - a place where records are kept, a record so preserved, to place or store in an archive. The architecture of access to the remains of the past.

A lot of my work in archaeology has dealt with archives - that is, how they are organized and how they work - archival practices.

archive - architecture - archaeology

The prefix arche (found in archive and architecture and archaeology) is Greek for beginning, origin, foundation, source, first principle, first place of power, authority, sovereignty. It represents a starting point or founding act in both an ontological sense ("this is whence it began") and a nomological sense ("this is whence it derives its authority").

Archives are all about narratives of origin, identity and belonging, and the politics of ownership, organization, access and use.

Archive 3.0

I see us moving into a new phase in the history of archives.

Archive 1.0 - bureaucracy in the early state - temple and palace archives - inscription as an instrument of management

Archive 2.0 - mechanization and digitization of archival databases - with an aim of fast, easy and open access based upon efficient dendritic classification and retrieval - associated also with statistical analysis performed upon the data

Archive 3.0 - new prosthetic architectures for the production and sharing of archival resources - the animated archive

- a reemphasis on personal affective engagement with cultural memory.

There is an emphasis here on interface - but not solely as a human factor of ergonomics or of behavioral efficiency and conceptual transparency - an issue now of richness of engagement.

Animating the archive

Rather than static depositories I see archives as active engagements with the past -


What is involved in bringing archives alive?

collaborative cocreation

An essential dimension of the new archive. Archives have always been collective. New factors -

Involved are matters of

in relation to

Uploaded Image

Inside the Hershman archive in Second Life - Life Squared

- new architectures of engagement

new media and Archive 3.0

The fungibility of digital media, as the text becomes interchangable with image and sound, is intimately connected now with

transdiciplinary scope

Archive 3.0 enables the articulation of specialised focus with matters of common concern - connecting the local and global.

This implies a transdisciplinary scope - a thematic approach to big questions such as urban experience, visualization and the human senses, intercultural translation, the shape of history, presence/absence and the documentation of experience, memory practices ...


Stanford Strategy Studio - mobilizing broad humanistic knowledge and social science expertise to provide context for more effective high-level corporate and government planning and decision making as well as grass-roots cultural change

Art and the early Greek state - from classification and catalog to design, engineering and cultural ecology - the life of things - when I discovered that the categories of understanding the early cities of the Mediterranean are tied more to nineteenth century metanarratives than a genuine engagement with their archaeological remains, and when I tried to develop a new methodology for generating such a rich empirical encounter

Three Rooms - three forensic portfolios - what such an encounter with the past might involve

Traumwerk - collaborative authoring, creative content management ... dreamwork - and an extended experiment in Web 2.0 technologies

The Three Landscapes Project - when we experimented with the representation of temporal topography - the topological percolation of archive that is place - deep-mapping three landscapes - Stanford Humanities Center 2000-2001

The Presence Project - presence/absence and the archaeology of experience - a major international collaboration with performance artists

Life Squared - animating the archive of artist Lynn Hershman in the online world Second Life - an exploration of the future of the museum

Burtynsky at Stanford - a collaborative encounter with the work of photographer Edward Burtynsky as an experiment in participatory museum and arts curation

Brith Gof - media archaeology and a multimedia performance arts company

Cocreating cultural heritage - participatory media and pedagogy and Web 2.0 technologies enabling people to build their own pasts

Behind the locked door - a collaborative excavation of the store rooms of the Cantor Center for Visual Arts at Stanford as another experiment in the museum without walls

43 relics - dumpster diving 2006 - what will remain of us all

The locked door: San José 2004 - a forensic archive and an experiment in memory practices

Some thoughts:

[link] - information is a verb - comments on archival practices from my weblog

[link] - agile design and the archaeological encounter

Posted at Apr 07/2011 05:37PM:
MS: interactive research driven social collaborative open source

Posted at Feb 18/2010 01:06AM:
MS: I have taken out the over-emphasis here on material remains - it is crucial to recognize that the distinction, in cultural terms, between the material and immaterial, tangible and intangible, is a tactical one.