RR week 7 chapter 4

Zinnia Upson


Photo 2


Chapter 4 The archive as the producer

This week we read chapter 4 The archive as the producer by Jae Emerling, this chapter explained a lot about archiving taking away the real meaning of photographs that were made retroactively when items are reproduced later on formally using them as information from the past while disregarding the original meaning in modern time. Archive almost seems to mess with authorship in a way when we go back and undermine someone’s original intent. It also seems to make one wonder if fair use comes into play when archiving old photographs, does “liberating” a photo from its original purpose. Emerling describes archive as “the archive fever that we see in many contemporary photographic projects stem from a sense of disordering the archive, challenging its authority with fictions and counter memory. Archival practice – both the production of archives and the manipulation of pre-existing ones – is related to, but is not the same forms of remembrance, or as history because it has the ability to fragment and destabilize either remembrance as recorded or history as written.” (Emerling, 121) I read this as exactly the reason people made up the fair use terms, to alter the previous work into switching up historic data that was documented and to rearrange it almost. Sekula describes archive as “In an archive the possibility of meaning is liberated from the actual contingencies of use but this liberation is also a loss an abstraction from the complexity and richness of use a loss of context thus the specificity of the original uses and meanings can be avoided and made invisible , when photographs are selected from an archive and reproduced in a book… clearly archives are not neutral  they embody the power inherent in accumulation collection and hoarding” I think the aspect of hoarding as a part of archival photography is interesting because my mother was a photography major and hoards items in her studio such as old negatives and slide thumbnails for old projectors and old polaroid cameras but after reading this chapter I understand because everything can be upcycled in art. Pieces can be rejuvenated in meaning and put to use or find use over and over again. This makes me think about previous art works ive made working with the theory of archive. I worked a lot on the time aspect of archive rather than the liberating aspect of it.


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