Archive. Message or Noise
Workshop by Vladimir Nadein & Dina Karaman, National Tainan University of the Arts, 2023

Archives have traditionally been associated with physical institutional storage facilities that preserve the records of the "true past". However, with the advent of the digital era, archives have proliferated into virtual counterparts such as online collections and libraries. This has enabled anyone to become an archivist by writing a blog or collecting memories, for instance by transforming private family archives into digital public ones. While these transformations have expanded who can write history and how it can be written, the noise inevitably increased, making it difficult to discern the message behind the grain.

During the two-day workshop, participants will explore web pages run by former personnel of the US Military Assistance Advisory Group who served in various bases across Taiwan in the 1950s-70s. Together, we will examine what constitutes a particular archive, why archives can evoke a misleading sense of nostalgia about controversial past events, and how artists can approach such archives. We will also consider the extent to which digital permanence operates and the future of archiving and memory preservation in both digital and physical forms.