Those with whom the archive dwells<sup>1</sup>

Caroline Bassett

in The Arc and the Machine

Published by Manchester University Press

Published in print December 2007 | ISBN: 9780719073427
Published online July 2012 | e-ISBN: 9781781700907 | DOI:
Those with whom the archive dwells1

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This chapter considers the role digital technologies might play in the constitution of contemporary identity, when this is understood in narrative terms as a life story and its narration. The life stories at the centre of this inquiry are those of a group of inmates of Ashworth Hospital, a secure institution for the criminally insane. This group participated in the making of Rehearsal of Memory, a piece of speculative software produced in collaboration with the artist Harwood with input from the art collective Mongrel, and others. Rehearsal takes the form of a navigable composite body made up of skin scans taken from the inmates, from Harwood, and from Ashworth staff. This body holds fragments of memory, experiences of life at Ashworth and other places, held as images, texts, and audio spots. Users of the artwork are invited to explore the body and its associated objects, but are only able to do so in ways allowed by the project architecture. This functions to organize the interactions between the body and its users in ways that tend to undermine the conventional relationships operating between the inmates of such institutions and the general public.

Keywords: digital technologies; contemporary identity; narrative; life story; Rehearsal of Memory; Ashworth Hospital; Harwood; Mongrel

Chapter.  11482 words. 

Subjects: Media Studies

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