Saturday, March 27, 2010

The Politics of Curation

Some great correspondence with regard to the previous post...thanks. Ryan's recommendation of Allan Sekula's "Between the Net and the Deep Blue Sea (Rethinking the Traffic in Photographs)" was perfect. Rightly, Ryan and Sekula remind me that the archive is fundamentally a politicized (archaeological) space. That was Derrida's point too...that and the curation of the archive is always already political.

So, in a sense, when boyd remarks that we (just) need curation she is not stating anything new. Rather, she is stating the unrecognized most obvious characteristic of basically any sort of representation. It is just that we are often unaware of the everyday acts of curation. It is so common sensical that it is perfectly hegemonic.

When I first listened to, and then read, boyd's insights from SXSWi I was in almost perfect agreement. To a degree, I still am. However, positionality matters when curation occurs. From what individual or organziational vantage does one curate? Beyond how an archive is ordered, accessed, and what's included, ethics are shot through every possible interaction with the acrhive (be it a collection of photographs or a Facebook profile). I'd even extend this claim to our everyday consumption of information, culture, or even food. And yes, I used consumption (though in a post-Marxist Baudrillard-ian sense). Like it or not, consumption and remediation (e.g., curation) are the 21st century equivalent of production. Plugging my own take on this is an old piece from a few years back entitled Articulating Reform and the Hegemony Game. In the piece I weirdly valorize Whole Fords because it seems that even if cultural dopes are shopping there, through an organizational(albeit corporate) articulation better and more ethical practices get operationalized via Whole Foods.

I'm skeptical of Facebook and wary of Microsoft, but I do like boyd's work and her politics are, I am hopeful about the discourse coming from her as a thought leader.

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