VISIBLE ARCHIVE. Mitchell Whitelaw

Mitchell Whitelaw, an Associate Professor in the Faculty of Arts and Design at the University of Canberra. This blog began in 2009 as documentation of a research project on the visualisation of archival datasets, supported by the National Archives of Australia under the Ian Maclean Award. Now it documents his ongoing research into the exploratory display and visualisation of large cultural collections.




A surprising and original application of theories of new media art

Making an exquisite and unexpected connection between the old and the new, Digital Baroque analyzes the philosophical paradigms that inform contemporary screen arts. Examining a wide range of art forms, Murray reflects on the rhetorical, emotive, and social forces inherent in the screen arts’ dialogue with early modern concepts.


An innovative theoretical reassessment of temporality in documentary films

Finding the theoretical space where cinema and philosophy meet, Malin Wahlberg’s sophisticated approach to the experience of documentary film aligns with attempts to reconsider the premises of existential phenomenology. Wahlberg discusses a corpus of classical and recent experiments in film and video in which creative approaches to the time of the image and the potential archive memory of filmic representation illuminates meanings of temporality and time experience.


Creating the Witness examines the role of film and the Internet in creating virtual witnesses to genocide over the past one hundred years. Leshu Torchin’s broad survey of media and the social practices around it investigates the development of popular understandings of genocide to achieve recognition and response, ultimately calling on viewers to act on behalf of human rights.



The pitfalls of cultural memory and forgetting, understood through the genealogy of the phenomenon called déjà vu

This provocative book examines the history of déjà vu, offers a counterpoint to clichéd celebrations of cultural memory and forces us do a double take on the warnings against forgetting common in our time. Reaching from the early texts of Sigmund Freud to the plays of Heiner Müller, this exploration of the effects of déjà vu pivots around the work of Walter Benjamin.


Off the Network is a fresh and authoritative examination of how the hidden logic of the Internet, social media, and the digital network is changing users’ understanding of the world—and why that should worry us. Ulises Ali Mejias suggests how we might begin to rethink the logic of the network and question its ascendancy.



In her thought-provoking new book, José van Dijck has undertaken a formidable task. Unlike most theorists of memory, who work either with cognitive or with cultural models, she argues that to understand memory in the digital age requires an approach with draws from both neuroscientific and cultural research. In the first chapter she lays out her approach, which she distinguishes from Marita Sturken’s and my own; instead of considering the ways in which cultural memories affect the individual, Dijck’s analysis moves in the other direction “privileging private memory objects.” And while she admits, following Maurice Halbwachs, that “personal memory can only exist in relation to collective memory,” she insists on the primacy of the personal: “The sum of individual memories never equals collectivity” (25). For Dijck, memories might be technologically mediated, but are still profoundly personal. And yet, rather than assuming that something like “pure” or “authentic” memory exists and is then mediated by technologies of memory, she imagines a dialectical relationship where “media and memory transform each other” (21). And to get at this dynamic relationship she has coined the phrase “mediated memories,” which she defines as “the activities and objects we produce and appropriate by means of media technology for creating and re-creating a sense of past, present, and future of ourselves in relation to others” (21). While these memories are personal, they are nevertheless instrumental in translating ourselves to others. Dijck, in other words, is interested in the way in which autobiographical memory both shapes and is shaped by technology. In this book she attempts to reject a simple technological determinism, advocating instead a model which recognizes the interpenetration of cognitive structures and technological developments. (…)