Thursday, October 6, 2016

Reconfigured Archive – Entry 2

Regarding archives, I began to think about how heavily they rely on language. To find and retrieve documents from an archive, you must use keywords and terminology. When searching specifically for photographs, you are often brought to a written description of them, before being able to view the photograph itself. This got me to thinking about some examples of contemporary web "archives," such as Instagram or Flickr, that rely heavily on keywords to link potential viewers with content. Even this blog I am using used "labels"in a similar manner. Another relevant example is cataloguing digital photographs. Virtually every platform—Lightroom, Bridge, Capture One, iPhoto—all allow for the input of keywords to help retrieve images. 

With this focus on language and description, I started writing down all the words for things that I could see when I looked at the photos in "archive" provided. Here's an example:
signs, storefronts, businesses, windows, architecture, reflections, flags, lights, letters
I also decided that it might be fun to try something more slightly more literary:
An old woman, perhaps a nun (most likely religious), walks along a tile sidewalk wearing a dark coat and pushing some form of walker. Two vehicles on the street in the background. A brutal concrete wall. Two other people, both hidden by a vehicle. In the distance there are many trees, but no leaves (fall, perhaps). It's somewhere in western Europe—most likely Berlin. 
All of this got me to thinking about how little a photograph can actually tell you. I recall someone saying that a picture actually needs a thousands words, rather than it being worth a thousand words. Of course, this is very problematic when it comes to archives. So, going forward, I think I will work with language and description in relation to these images, as a means of critiqing the notion of the archive.