CACS 2011: Mobile Archive

Canadian Association of Cultural Studies (CACS)/

L’Association canadienne des études culturelles (ACÉC)
Biennial conference
McGill University, Montreal | Nov. 4-6, 2011

Building upon Wendy Hui Kyong Chun’s concept of the ‘enduring ephemeral,’ (2008) and Lev Manovich’s ‘anti-narrative logic of the Web’ (2001) this presentation outlines the possibilities for time travel through the interface of the world’s largestonline database, the Internet Archive Wayback Machine (IWM). Together, these concepts form the necessary paradox for engaging theoretically, as well as in practical terms, with the web as archive and the archive of the web. IWM founder, Brewster Kahle claims, archival research online demands that we embrace its dualistic nature: “Whatever the precise figure, and whatever its rate of change, change itself is paradoxically consistent feature of the World Wide Web.” As the “archive of the internet” the IWM is a machine comprised of numerous robots and servers steadily “archiving” web pages by crawling the internet and taking snap shots of html content. As a recursive and regenerative process in which the archive archives itself, the IWM functions to counter fears of ‘digital decay’ (Bruce Sterling) resulting in a ‘digital dark age’ (Danny Hillis) that would—as the story goes—prevent learning from the past for a better future. The IWM is also about the internet’s capacity to trigger memory and reside within ever expanding digital storage. Like memory, the IWM is imperfect insofar as it is incomplete and elusive; it preserves only a ‘skeleton’ of a page, hyperlinks are often broken and images replaced by a broken icons, and for the most part, without cached media or dynamic database. As such, the memory of the internet can be framed as trails of versions and updates, repeated and regenerated, “creating a nonsimultaneous new that confounds the chronological time they also enable” (Chun 2008). This presentation therefore attempts to track the journey and the potential of time travel within the non-linear database, bringing to the forefront a conceptual ‘mobile archive’ as means of addressing issues of location in time that include the concurrent and iterative that digital flows inspire.


Saturday Nov. 5

Panel 1  9:30-11:15 

A) Cultural and Aesthetic Practice

 Mobility, art, and eco-criticism

Chair: Jill Didur, Concordia University

Owen Chapman, Concordia University “Audio-Mobile: Understanding Eco-territories through Mobile Technologies”

Mél Hogan, Concordia University  “Mobile Archive”

Andrew Bieler,  York University “Water, Art, Cityscape: in medias res”

Fenn Stewart, York University “’and all the Horrid graces of the Wilderness itself’: Nature Poetry in the Context of Canadian De/Colonization”