Accumulation Technologies: Databases and ‘Other’ Archives

Accumulation Technologies: Databases and ‘Other’ Archives


November 23, 2017, Barcelona, Catalonia

Organizing Team

Organized by: AGI | Art, Globalization, Interculturality, Departament d´Història de l’Art, Facultat de Geografia i Història, Universitat de Barcelona. PhD Academic Committee, Course 2016-2017
Coordination: Julia Ramírez Blanco


Round Table
18:00 – 18:15 / Christian Alonso
18:15 – 18:30 / Diana Padrón
18:30 – 18:45 / Luz Muñoz
18:45 – 19:00 / Federica Matelli

Accumulation Technologies: Databases and ‘Other’ Archives is an international symposium focused on archival practices. It is conducted within the framework of the Research Project Global Art Archive (GAA), and organized by Art Globalization Interculturality (AGI) and the Faculty of Geography and History of the University of Barcelona.

In the past few years archive has generated a great interest within art theories and practices, as well as in other fields of culture, such as the scientific or the academic ones. The expansion of this discussion has finally given voice to agents as data technicians and archivists, whom surely have a lot to say around the archive.

Accumulation Technologies gathers together two discussion panels around two key issues for present archival practices: their relation with digital technologies and with alterity. This Symposium is an international event oriented towards art theory, but open to other inter-, trans-, and extra-disciplinary approaches. Aimed at applying transversal processes and methodologies, AT is addressed to academics, but also to creators and users of the archival device. We seek to open a discussion around perspectives deployed not only ‘in’ or ‘on’ the archive, but also ‘from’ it; from art and culture fields as well as from related technical areas.

As a knowledge-classifier device that is rooted in Modernity, archive is not a neutral tool. The apprehension of the world and its history are materialized inside of it. The archive irradiates stories, which are configured by the creator and user’s determinations, as well as by the structural protocols of the archive itself. The devices of management, accumulation and visualization of data are regulatory and constraining spaces. At the same time, however, they are opportunities to criticize and test contexts and narratives.

In this way, the capacity of agency of the archive is being explored through various means, from which we want to underscore some. For example, the ‘detournement’ of the archive, which turns it upside down in order to regain the power over the discourse. Or the linkage of the archive with digital data technologies, which allows a simultaneously territorialized and deterritorialized networking knowledge, and within which phenomena such as ‘Big Data’ and ‘Digital Humanities’ resonate. How is the archive applied to generate counter-discourses? How could digital technologies help in this process?

Panel 1. José Luís de Vicente

Topic: Digital Humanities: Data, ‘Big Data’, Dataísm
Keywords: Databases, Big Data, Digital Humanities, Technologies, Visualization
Keynote: José Luís de Vicente (SPA). Curator, writer and researcher specialized in Digital Culture
Some political and media events have led to the wide dissemination of the term ‘post-truth’ within the most varied areas, from art and culture to political philosophy. ‘Big Data’ has entered into our lives, opening unsuspected possibilities to control desire, and so to control future though the so-called ‘dataism’ (Byung-Chul Han, 2014). This panel seeks to expand the discussion around the actual willingness of the Humanities, which are running towards a technical actualization through the ‘Digital Humanities’. We want to discuss here the implementation of scientific and quantitative tools to qualitative objects which escape to their subjugation. We plan to address issues such as the organization of databases and on-line digital archives —which could repeat the same concerns associated to traditional archives, if they are not done critically—, the technical complexity related to the transformation of the current communicative regime, or the strains between accumulation, filtering and exclusion of informations.

Panel 2: Nancy Garín

Topic: Dissenting Archives: Alter, Deviate, Hack
Keywords: Alterity, Decentering, Cunter-discourses, Context
Keynote: Nancy Garín (CHI-SPA). Cofounder of Anarchivo SIDA
A dissenting archive is not the one which contains data around the dissidence, but the one which operates in a different way, being it transformed by its content. Thus, how could an archive be transformed by its content? We usually give a regulatory power to the archival device; an active capacity to codify and normalize stories. Taking advantage of this power, some contemporary archives try to work in a decentered way: territorializing as they are addressed to the content and its context, and deterritorializing as they seek to carry the archive beyond itself. The structuring machine becomes a liberating machine able to generate counter-narratives. This panel is articulated around some issues linked to the Alterity discourses. They are applied to the archival device, attending not only to the surface or the content, but also its formation and uses. How could we operate a ‘detournement’, which is to say, how could we hack a hierarchical and structuring device such as the archive? Is the archive a neutral means, then? How many transformations can an archive suffer without ceasing to be an archive? In which way are an archive’s structure and content transformed by ‘othering’ the device?


UB, Universitat de Barcelona, Aula Magna
Montalegre 6, 4th Floor, 08001 Barcelona, Catalonia