Existential Scavenging: Cultural Artifacts for Future Archaeologists
Venue:Stockholm School of Economics, Room 311
Alongside the much spoken rise of social media, there is a far less debated phenomenon among everyday users of digital technologies, outsiders who, for merely existential purposes, engage themselves with the creation of “intimate media”. With or without a conscious method they scavenge their own existence by holding on to the digital traces they encounter providing a substantial meaning to their lives. The resulting artifacts are likely to be fascinating collections, which, if on one side they are disregarded by the official cultural discourse, have allot of potential to entertain the audience of the future. The latter will look back, like a team of archaeologists, at the period of time in which these scavengers have operated. As in the case of Erkki Kurenniemi, the Finish pioneer who will reveal his ”virtual persona” only after his death or as in the case of other individuals packaging their scavenging in the form of ”time-capsules”, such an audience is likely to experience a sense of profound respect for the authenticity that these ancient reliquaries of a past digital age might provoke. In this sense is fundamental that, when the scavenger makes a conscious decision of encapsulating the result of his scavenging for a future audience, he uses a coherent and thus readable syntax and composes it using a wide range of media languages which such audience can interpret and compare. This paper will bring forward different case-studies and implications concerning this phenomenon along side with future perspective for potential media archaeologists. Among the case-studies a 36 years long experiment will be presented in which the author systematically document reality by, for instance, photographing every object he uses.
Alberto Frigo is an media artist and researcher at the Critical Cultural Theory graduate school of Södetörn University in Stockholm. Previously, he has been working for the Comparative Media Studies Program at MIT University in Boston and for the College of Design and Innovation at Tongji University in Shanghai. He is the author of WWW.2004-2040.COM, a 36 years long depiction of reality where he has for instance photographed all the objects his right hand has used in order to keep track of his activities. 10 years of the project will be showcase during the conference.