Brakhage Center: Splicing Audio

Having now completed the inventory of the 2011 Poetry and Film Symposium put on by Tom Gunning and the Brakhage Center for the Media Arts, Eric Coombs and I now combing through the various media files associated with the project: images, pdf documents, audio, etc.

Most of the symposium was audio recorded, including films, readings, talks, videos, performances, introductions and claps. We’re in the process of matching audio to events listed in the inventory, and making the adjustments when we discover recordings for unlisted moments or events. The opposite is also true – we can’t find the opening remarks so we’ll have to cross reference with another audio recording of the event.

We’re hoping to get our hands on the papers presented as to pull quotes and use text to also represent voice in our curatorial display. We’re saving some of the audio glitches and scratches for possible sound loops in Korsakow – exact use to be determined. We’re also thinking of keywords now that are going to help assemble the showcase…

Technically, we splice the audio leaving a bit of room tone before and after (some of the recordings have rough starts/ends) to give breathing room to the tracks. We adjust the gain bu lowering the dbs of very loud tracks. We then export the splices into event based folder, in .aif 16 44.1 Khz (a quality to match what was recorded) labeled by the speaker or film and so on. We can mass convert to mp3 later, but for now retain the best quality as back up. There are obviously many debates in the archiving world about format and quality and how it relates to authenticity, but we’re of the view that that implies a neutrality to the technologies used to record–and create–the original. So we are cognizant of the issues but forge ahead.

We have yet to come up with a great folder/label system but we’re working on it, thinking it through. This is proving far trickier than any technical aspect so far…


Collect Yourself: Data Storage Centers as the Archive’s Underbelly

Collect Yourself: Data Storage Centers as the Archive’s Underbelly

As the quintessential personal digital archive, Facebook no longer requires an introduction; its user-base is currently estimated at one billion active monthly profiles, give or take a few fake accounts. On the front end, it’s the epitome of the user-generated content platform and of the postmodern living archive. Its underbelly, however, remains much less explored and theorized (Miller, 2006; Bennet 2010). Academic research on Facebook has instead addressed: urgent policy, privacy, and surveillance concerns (Cohen 2008; Shepherd 2012); ownership of user-generated content and its commodification through “big data” (boyd and Crawford 2011); and identity and user behaviour analyses (Marshall 2012), to offer a few examples in a growing body of literature dedicated to Facebook. Within the scholarship, as within journalism and blogging, Facebook’s growth is rarely discussed in terms of the very machines used to manage perpetual user requests: the servers. Even Wikipedia fails to make mention of the site’s data centers.

In relation to Facebook’s material management of personal archive data, several questions remain: What kinds of servers are required to host such large amounts of ‘free’ information, offering up data so rapidly, across so many platforms? How does Facebook’s advertising strategy inform how power is pulled from the grid? How do these servers function? How are they powered? How many are there? Where are they located? Taken together, these pragmatic questions inform an important theoretical intervention: these dislocated servers–existing in “enterprise zones” and arctic hideaways–not only effectively blind us to the potential environmental costs# of our everyday obsession with self-archiving, but also demand a serious revision of the preservation ideals that underpin the archive.

In my presentation, I will offer up a series of provocations about data storage centers, as the archive’s underbelly, with the intent of reconnecting Facebook to the bodies and machines that enable it, and the ideals that inform it.

 ** working on this**

Brakhage Center: Inventory

In preparation for the curatorial prototype for the collection, Eric Coombs and I are making an inventory of the 2011 Poetry and Film Symposium put on by Tom Gunning and the Brakhage Center for the Media Arts.

To create this inventory, we have laid out an xl sheet indicating the folder path (to the associated media), date, location, program, speakers, affiliation, trt (total running time), photo, audio, video, notes and keywords.

There is an xl sheet for each collection, and it contains a read me file, and info sheet and the inventory. It serves, or will serve, as a finding aid for researchers. We are debating how to best release the file – as a locked xl file, a pdf.

Our entry point has been the symposium conference program; it structures the inventory in a particular way. We’ve noted that the order of events, for example, are not always reflective of the ways things happened. Eric, having attended each of the center’s event is the living breathing archive against which this inventory is measured. Our choice to structure the archive on the program guide was to have a template the rest of the collection could follow, while noting the discrepancies.

Another interesting point has been the way in which the camera has ordered the images, and help set a chronology of the events, which we can then connect to the audio.

Porting over an Indexibit Site (DB and Content)

Time’s up to renew the domain name for the online component of my PhD project, but instead of dishing out the cash, I am opting to move my site — to “archive” it. It took me a few frustrating hours to port over the database and web contents, when really, in the end, it was just one little glitch preventing the transition from being complete: that damn invisible .htaccess file! So I’ve decided to share my process here, though admitedly you will have to have some sense of how all of this works to follow along. There’s a lot of helpful stuff online already dealing with this, so I’ve simly added what I thought was missing. But I recommend checking here, here, and even here for more details, to get started. Also, the migration process is different depending on the CMS you are using, so steps might differ for WordPress etc. (I plan to document steps for WP in the next few weeks.) These are the steps for (the old) Indexhibit CMS, using Cpanel and phpMyAdmin.

  1. Back up your site. Download the entire www folder to your desktop.
  2. Export your OLD database. Go to “Custom”; Format: “SQL” and save it with a .sql extenstion.
  3. Import your database to the new space.
  4. Create a new user for this NEW database and enable it.
  5. Note the database info: db name, user, password and localhost.
  6. Change your config file so it speaks to your NEW database using the info noted above.
  7. Upload content to your new site (including the invisible .htaccess file. *You might have to duplicate the .htaccess, name it htaccess without the period to copy it over, and then remove the period once it is in its NEW place.)
  8. Manual tweaks: log in to your new indexhibit site ( and adjust all the links you entered manually within posts etc.


Brakhage Center: Korsakow as a tool for digital curation?

I’ve just embarked on a project at the Brakhage (Media Arts) Center (University of Colorado – Boulder), and my job here is to come up with modes and models for digital curation. The idea is to help showcase various collections in the archive and organise them – so I proposed a tool that could conceivably organise a collection by showcasing it: Korsakow.

Korsakow is a non-linear database driven repository and a tool created for storytelling (and, as far as I can tell, subverting traditional documentary forms). From experience, it is also, by default, a method and means of working: aggregating, sorting, and displaying collections in a multimodal way. The creative process is highly iterative and requires a continuous conversation between the software and the media at hand. In other words, while you can (and often should) plan out the relationships (keywords) between media assets, this planning is perpetually revised through interaction with the database and interface. It’s neither about randomness nor chance, but rather about a set of limitations in our conception of links, or, in what we determine should be connected to what. Largely keyword driven, the software demands curation – choices to provide context to media. What’s special about the way we are thinking of using it is that its application will be to a collection of disparate media sources, and eventually collections of collections in the archival sense, which as far as I know, hasn’t been applied yet. As my incredibly insightful collaborator, Eric Coombs, sees it – usually technologies are invented for practical uses and subverted by artists; this time we’re repurposing an artist’s tool for a decidedly pragmatic end goal. We’ll see how that goes. I’ve committed to documenting our process here – and later on the BC blog perhaps – to detail the conceptual transformations, failures, obstacles, and epiphanies of our curatorial journey.

Korsakow is a ‘dynamic storytelling’ tool; it is Flash-driven and as such is limited to desktop, online, and kiosk display. Plans are underway to release an HTML5 version, which will be mobile-friendly and possibly offer new features. Korsakow was invented by Florian Thalhofer, a Berlin-based media artist. Its development has since been taken on by a team at Concordia University, in Montreal. This team is lead by Matt Soar in the Communication Studies Dept., working with various programmers (Sean Fraser and Dave among others) to continue the development of this amazing, unique, and free (for educational purposes) open source tool. One of my goal is certainly to see how our project at the BC can generate financial or technical (or both) support.

What we’ve outlined as the first step is to create an inventory of the one-off Poetry and Film Symposium from 2005 as an archival project prototype. If all goes well with that one, we’ll have generated a model for the regular symposium content. The content consists primarily of audio recordings and stills, and a few videos. Some of the media is of mediocre recording quality, which may pose an interesting archival challenge in software that begs for rich and vibrant content.

The discussion today revolved mostly around how to conceptualise the archive for this project. Can Korsakow effectively replace or provide an alternative to the ‘online archive,’ which typically resorts to long lists, sorted according to author, media and date? Can Korsakow provide an archival ‘experience’ to researchers? How will we curate the content? Will we select everything (all recorded media) or highlight key moments only? What are the implications of either option, for the research archive? Should duplicate all ‘raw’ materials in a comprehensive archive – maybe or or through torrent files or as a back up copy on our own server? Who is our intended audience? How will the archive be used and possibly misused? What advantages can a Korsakow archive provide a researcher? What are its drawbacks on the front and back end? Can the collections’ contexts be effectively generated through keywords? What will determine the connections between speakers and ideas? How can we make the material we have come to life through audio and images?

These are the questions we begin this journey with… the next few months will therefor demand attentive listening to/looking at all the media on hand pertaining to this symposium, and noting keywords to begin mapping the project. To be continued.

Public Evernote Feed Embed in WP

Evernote is a good way to clip media from the web, so it’s also an efficient tool for aggregating your online research findings.

There are a few easy ways to then embed your (public) notebook(s) into your research blog/website. So far the best solutions I’ve found for WordPress are:

1 iframe snippet;
2 the RSS feed in the sidebar;
3 HungryFEED.

NB: I haven’t done anything here pertaining to CSS or design for how the content displays – all are set to defaults for the purposes of this post. But you can adjust everything below in terms of how it looks…

** it doesn’t matter what you name this Notebook, but probably putting “Public” in the title is helpful to keep stuff organised.

Copy the link generated – you’ll need it for embedding.



1. For a quick and dirty iframe embed: (you can use iframe to embed just about anything):

Write this code, but instead of “” –> insert the link you just copied (something like:

Which gives you: (click on green button)

** the drawback to this; it seems that login is required…


2. More simply, use the RSS Widget (in WP), feed it through the sidebar:


3. Third option: the plugin HungryFEED displays your Evernote clippings like this:

[hungryfeed url=”” link_target=”_blank” max_items=”5″]




HungryFEED may require a few steps (from FAQ) to work properly:

Search Strings

Search Strings

I’m starting a new collection project that deals with Search Strings. These are words people use to search out content – in my example below, to get to online and p.o.d journal, As part of an ongoing research interest in digital archiving and media archaeology, I’m starting to think about the role of these Search Strings; how they define, organise and indadvertedly help us theorize the site over time. Because has no stated mandate, no explicit function to carry out, no funding or sponsors, and no markers beyond the community that shape it, these strings give us insight into the direct or accidental trajectories to the journal. More thinking on this to come… but for now, it remains pretty clear what people are searching for (whether or not they find it in NMP)…

These are stats for the first 3 days of September, for the new issue ‘dirt’. A full month produces hundreds upon hundreds of these strings…

Hits Search String
—————- ———————-

3 5.77%
3 5.77% liz brockest
2 3.85% au quebecil pleut comment ils disent
2 3.85% catfight with nurse
2 3.85% gay cock
2 3.85% love berlant and negri
2 3.85% magie pentru sex
2 3.85% no more potlucks
2 3.85% nomorepotlucks
2 3.85% sex magic
1 1.92% 1970s weightlifters
1 1.92% agustin 2007 migration agency
1 1.92% anal sex lover
1 1.92% aunty joan lesbian
1 1.92% autoethnography anecdotal
1 1.92% bdsm race play landscapes
1 1.92% cock gay
1 1.92% eliza chandler
1 1.92% garry lewis james osterberg
1 1.92% gay cock play
1 1.92% gay cock.
1 1.92% hardt politics of love
1 1.92% homonationalism
1 1.92% indie drawings
1 1.92% lakota face paint
1 1.92% louise hay t-shirts
1 1.92% mark leckey
1 1.92% mary bryson course in affect
1 1.92% momoko loving you too much
1 1.92% montreal sex chat rooms
1 1.92% printmaking performance art
1 1.92% sean dockray
1 1.92% self anal fucking
1 1.92% sex veined
1 1.92% strangers to fuck
1 1.92% suzy malik artist toronto
1 1.92% the dirty heather
1 1.92% transexoual porno very hart
1 1.92% velma.candyass

Opening the Archives @ Console-ing Passions 2012 – Boston

Below is a very rough draft of my talk at Console-ing Passions 2012. Ideas in this presentation need a lot of flushing out, but here it is…

Paper Title:
No More Potlucks: Media Archeology as Feminist Archival Intervention


This presentation focuses on the archival trajectory of Canadian queer feminist DIY journal of
arts, Specifically, it looks at the significance of the project’s digital traces
for speaking to the artist, activist, and academic communities it has represented over the course
of the last eight years. was launched in 2003 and served as a virtual posting board for queer
feminist events in Montreal (Canada). At the time, it was a hand-coded static html website,
where new events replaced past ones, showcasing only the current as a means to connect
people to events in the city. The posting board was decidedly local. In 2005 the site shifted to its
first content management system (CMS) but retained much of the same purpose. However, as a
CMS, past events were ‘archived’ and remained on the site as new events were added. In 2009, was revamped conceptually and technologically to become an online and
print-on-demand journal of arts and politics, showcasing a new issue every 2 months. In those
years it shifted from open source CMS, Drupal to WordPress, primarily as a growing concern for
the project’s preservation.

As the cofounder of the journal and as the web developer and technician for the project, I
explain in detail the archival trajectory of the project and its political implications. In particular, I
attempt to tease out the ways in which archival strategies are always in part a product of the
politics of the social movement they emerge from.As a creative feminist intervention, I invite reflection on the kind of archival analysis that invariably creates for the archive as much as it draws (archaeologically) from it. This
presentation therefore revolves around the notion of archival intervention as creative
contribution, and attempts to give concrete examples of media archaeology, as a queer feminist
methodology and tactic (Cvetkovich 2002; Ketelaar 2002; Takahashi 2007; Chun 2008; Parikka

My talk will be in two parts – one part which I will read to you and one part as a kind of media archaeology demo.

What I hope to demonstrate (if not reiterate) in this short presentation is that archival theory is not a corpus reserved merely for the day-to-day practicalities of archivists. Rather, I want to underline how it is also deeply implicated in the processes of media researchers, scholars, activist, artists, and practitioners: those who make use of the archives, intervene from within, and critically engage in its possibilities and limitations. This relationship — between use, intervention, engagement, and the archive — becomes central to questioning the role of the archive as source, as long intimated by those dealing most closely with issues of ownership, exile, and representation in relation to archival theory. Such issues of power may resonate, but too often get disconnected from larger technological discourses.

What I propose here is that as a result of theorizing the archive in this way—adjoining political voices with technological practicalities—we can move toward an increasingly self-reflexive approach to archiving that accounts for the documentation of research processes, and deliverables, as not only integral to methodology, but as elemental to rigorous scholarly output and critical production practices. Within this revised and revived framework, the archive has the potential to shift conceptually, from repository, place, database, and source, to trajectory, performance, or what Wendy Chun calls the enduring ephemeral, where “raw and abstracted material created as part of research processes and which may be used again as the input to further research – carries with it the burden of capturing and preserving not only the data itself, but information about the methods by which it was produced”. Determining the bounds of the archive — as enacted, embodied or performed — rather than solely conceived as place, space, or repository — is inextricably linked to the possible knowledges produced about it, and the legitimacy of voices, histories, politics, and testimonies it enables. It is also, however, about what falls out and fails, and what these perceived failures reveal about a researcher’s subject-position vis-à-vis the archive. These are preoccupations particularly well addressed, through a media archaeology framework – even and especially as media archaeology remains open to interpretation–; which is, according to Jussi Parikka: “much more than paying theoretical attention to the intensive relations between new and old media, mediated through concrete and conceptual archives; increasingly, media archaeology is a method for doing media design and art.” This attention to ‘doing’ media and design is particularly important for the point I’m trying to make through, an example that I hope will demonstrate that the archive can be an ongoing and creative endeavour circulating through the queer networks that activate and maintain it.

By way of nomorepotlucks and various design projects I am involved in, I have become interested in the movement and mutations of digital culture. I’m less interested in dichotomies of materiality and immateriality, or in the distinctions between traditional physical repository and database, which are often – still – the more common points of contrast in relation to the archive’s potential. Instead, my interest is focused on different modalities of access, and the possible reworkings of the politics of ownership of the archive: to occupy the archive, and to inhabit it instead.

If the archive prioritizes the future, it not only anchors but also justifies its position as mediator and safeguard, and with this, the notion that human interaction with artefacts run many risks that are counter to the preservation of an original and arrested moment – through tampering, decay, errors and so on. Preservation, to this end, has meant a necessary distance between precious originals, for the sake of long-term access; — however it is rarely made explicit when this end point is expected to be, and for whom this later access is reserved.

Several examples show the ways in which preservation has meant inaccessibility, and has been justified through a rhetoric of future potential that is inherently greater than what a present connection can seemingly ever afford.

The Lascaux caves in southwestern France, which are estimated to house vast murals of drawings that are more than 17 000 years old are now being taken over by mold because of preservation efforts that try to control the humidity of the caves. The Lascaux caves have been closed to the public since 1963. A website allows viewers a virtual tour, and there exists a replica of two of the caves that people can visit, located about 200 meters away from the original caves.

Similarly, the Bettmann Archive is a collection of 19 million or so photographs and images owned by Corbis (Bill Gates) since the mid 1990s. Corbis moved the archive into the Iron Mountain National Underground Storage Facility, located 70 m/200 feet below ground in western Pennsylvania, in a space deemed to be at optimal temperature for long-term storage. Only images considered to have commercial resale value are digitized and made public (less than 2 percent of the collection). The rest remains underground under lock and key.

These are just two examples but they are sufficient to at least highlight the paradox we’ve come to largely accept — that preservation privileges so called long-term historical value, which must by definition be out of the reach of the present. While long term preservation is important in many cases, it is largely a framework that relies on the perceived scarcity of material and often singular objects, and as such, may not be fully equipped to account for digital culture – for which mutation, viral proliferation and ephemerality should arguably be informing the framework.

I think this becomes an opportunity to do archival work differently, in line with postcolonial feminists politics that counter the archive’s proposed linearity and quest for a singular truth. As Anjali Arondekar puts it, questioning the archive as source still “coheres around a temporally ordered seduction of access, which stretches from the evidentiary promise of the past into the narrative possibilities of the future” (2005, 5). To think of the archive as a creative act, then, is to consider means by which to assemble stories, as a mode of ‘doing’ that records its own performance. And, as Ann Laura Stoler puts it, where fragments have the potential to speak differently depending on their configuration. This is the kind of archival potential we have tried to activate through – a Canadian journal of arts and politics, as portraits of proclivities. In short, I’m proposing that a publication – and all its offshoots (especially its intangible ephemeral offshoots) constitute an archive that privileges mutations through circulation, and situates the communities through which the project circulates as its inhabitants.

Articles and arts works from nomorepotlucks are reprinted in other journals, in course packs, republished or pulled from personal blogs, academic papers or larger art projects, tweeted and retweeted, favorited, and posted on a Facebook wall, copied and pasted in part or in full into new venues for dissemination and so on — which together constitute the inhabited archive, where movement through social media and personal networks preserve both the project’s momentum and identity.

As the cofounder of, and as the person who does the technical and design work for the journal, I’m — in many ways — in a privilege position to also “archive” it, because a lot about what makes technology interesting for me, archivally anyway, is in the politics that shape access. But the flipside is that I might be too close to the material to even be able to assess the significance of its archive. To archive is always in some ways to assume value. Despite this ambivalence, my goal is to initiate a conversation about what a media archaeology approach might uncover for nomorepotlucks, and in so doing, tease out the ways that archival strategies are always, in part, a product the politics of the social movements from which they emerge, but also of individuals within a movement who are specifically “located.”  Positioning oneself within the archive – as a feminist tactic in itself — brings awareness to how the process of archiving invariably creates for the archive as much as it draws (archaeologically) from it. And I’m obviously not the first person to make that point (but I’m skipping over the Derrida and Foucault references today).

So, if you have a laptop or mobile device, type in: “” – or look up and follow along on the screen, and I’m going to circulate a print copy of the journal as well, so you can see what I’m talking about. I’m also — in thinking about the panel as “opening the archive” going to pass around a USB key with an almost complete collection of the articles, including the latest issue, but not including the video or audio files.

I’m doing this so that we can later talk about what this kind of archive does, what its limits are, how its content circulate, or fail to, and what role the network (or community) plays in the performance of preservation and access at various levels. We can also include in that conversation issues of access, copyright and creative commons licensing—each ideals of ownership–which is the reason some of the audio and video doesn’t circulate as freely as text.

I will be showcasing early iterations of the site, coded in html in 2003, via the Internet Archive Wayback Machine. For the second iteration, created using CMS Textpattern, I will navigate the site by way of backs up copies made onto CDs in 2004 and 2005. Following this, the site shifted to CMS Drupal, which is no longer available online, but for which I’ve exported the database for perusal (in PDF, SQL and XML versions). But first, I will show the current version, featuring issue # 22: Record. If asked what Nomorepotlucks is, most likely the latest iteration of the project speaks loudest.


3 main takeaways from this presentation, up for discussion:

1-    media archaeology allows for a recognition of the archive as a process that necessitates exposing one’s methods for research, recovery, and excavation.

2-    the idea that the archive becomes an act of creation – it is part of the creative process and part of the design thinking and doing – rather than an afterthought, or concern for the future.

3-    preservation can be positioned as a kind of archival awareness that is equivalent to inhabitation, rather than a statement about ownership and control over culture, or of and over time, and/or of proprietary archival spaces. Inhabitation is about an embodied notion of preservation – which literally means “to be present in” and to occupy.




Google’s Suggestive Archive

“Never forget that Google collects data for a commercial purpose. It is not a public archive. Besides this, the Google search engine is getting more and more ‘polluted’, coming up with useless and predictable search outcomes.” – Lovink 

As you type, Google’s algorithm predicts and displays search queries based on other users’ search activities and the contents of web pages indexed by Google. (ref)

Not everyone sees the same suggestions; it can depend on location and language.

Popularity is also a factor, but some less popular searches might be shown above more popular ones, if Google deems them more relevant. (ref)

Google Autocomplete also has what the company calls a “freshness layer.” If there are terms that suddenly spike in popularity in the short term, these can appear as suggestions, even if they haven’t gained long-term popularity. (ref)

Things about nationality (not religion though) are removed from “suggestions”, as are:

– Hate or violence related suggestions
– Personally identifiable information in suggestions
– Porn & adult-content related suggestions
– Legally mandated removals
– Piracy-related suggestions

Google has been sued a few times over problematic “suggestions”. (ref and ref)

The following is my experiment in our collective mindset, with “suggestions” made by the Google search engine, documented for the past three years… and ongoing.



free speech
hate speech
sex work
tom cruise

References (to explore)

Murphy, Samantha 2012. How a Google Search Travels Around the World [INFOGRAPHIC]

Beall, Jeffrey. 2010. How Google uses metadata to improve search results. The Serials Librarian 59(1): 40–53. Taylor & Francis Group. Link.

Google Autocomplete:

Blachman, Nancy and Jerry Peek. 2011. Google Guide. Part II: Understanding Results. Cached Pages. Posted December 28, 2011.

Google Guide. 2007. Google Help Forum. Google. Technology overview.

Keen, Andrew. Interview with Siva Vaidhyanathan about The Googlization of Everything: How one company is disrupting commerce, culture, and community. SXSW. Link