[ISEA2011] Paper: Gabriela Galati — The Electronic Representation of Information: New Relations between the Virtual Archive and its (Possible) Referent


The electronic elaboration of the representation of information is suggesting to follow new paths not only to deal with amounts of data each time more extensive but also to penetrate better the domain of knowledge that every person should possess.[1] Moreover, the forms which this “representation of information” is taking are closely related to the ways in which the perception of this information is structured and shaped. In any case, the relation between information, its representation and the referent has to be re-thought.

In his article “The Archive Without Museums”[2], Hal Foster advances the hypothesis that photographic reproduction allowed a new “dialectics of seeing” represented by the positions of Walter Benjamin, namely, that photographic reproduction strips art of context and aura, and therefore its cult value as well as its exhibition value are lost forever; and André Malraux’s, that the museum guarantees art as such and photographic reproduction gives the means to put together the broken pieces into the meta-tradition of “style”.

If the museum guarantees the status of art and photographic reproduction permits affinities of style, what might a digital reordering generate? Is there a new dialectics allowed by electronic information?

The present work explores the new relation generated by electronic information between the virtual archive (the Web in a broad sense, certain specialized archives in particular) and its referent (material reality in general, museums, artworks, in particular).

If there is a new dialectics established by electronic information and digitalisation in which the legitimisation formerly allowed by the museum is being replaced by that one of the virtual archive, the museum or gallery website, etc, this new dialectics has to be explored and the relation between the referent and the virtual database investigated.

In the same way that the object is digitalised in the archive, the medium is converted into a pure image, so the new data-base may be generating a dematerialisation of memory and record and at the same time an aesthetic shift.

[1] SCHIRRU, Marco; “Guide: Un ipertesto per l’istoria” in Adversus, VI-VII, December 2009-April 2010:61-83
[2] FOSTER, Hal; “The Archive without Museums” in October, Vol. 77 (Summer 1996), pp.97-119, Cambridge (MA): The MIT Press.

  • Gabriela Galati is a researcher, art historian and curator based in Berlin and New York. She was Assistant Professor of Semio-Epistemology in Social Science at the Universidad de Buenos Aires and Adjunct Professor in the same subject she taught at the Universidad del Museo Social Argentino. She was also involved as a researcher at the Universidad de Buenos Aires Science and Technology Research  Grant Program (UBACyT). She recently presented scholarly research papers at TATE Gallery Liverpool-FACT Postgraduate Research Forum; Always Already New Symposium- Planetary Collegium M-Node- Noema, NABA, Milan; and (upcoming) Rewire-FACT Liverpool, Sept. 2011, Culture Lab-Newcastle University, Oct. 2011 and Consciousness Reframed 12, Lisbon, Dec. 2011. She is currently pursuing a PhD at the University of Plymouth, Planetary Collegium, UK.

Full text (PDF) p. 886-889