But What Is To Become Of History? – Part 1 — by Jesse Hlebo

Syntaxtual creation results in a finished product one could consider ‘clean cut’, a result of its means of production. This type of creation is not without imperfection, the fragments that occur have to be sought out rather than existing in an openly visible manner. Documents, images, manuscripts, news items, personal correspondence, and the like, constitute things that formerly resided as physical and tactile medium’s, but now occupy an almost exclusively digital existence. This consolidation and transformation has resulted in the neglect of the archive, at least under the terms ‘archive’ has applied towards since the invention of the printing press (a space where objects deemed to be of historical worth are collected).  Papers containment of content in a fixed manner becomes one of its many attributes as a medium of historical reference, an attribute that is being reclaimed while simultaneously discarded in our present culture.


Articles of a particular personal and historical value (specifically, self-published books and ephemera, as well as other such small press) frequently employ the same devices that once occupied the space of distributing information to the majority, albeit in a corporate environment. Devices such as laser printers, Xerox machines, Risograph’s, offset presses, and fax machines are among the rapidly outdated vessels of popular information dissemination. That which once primarily belonged to the office and the commercial, have shifted in use to that of the artistic. These devices are a receding splinter of information disseminators in a world of near-instant communication and gratification. Though many of the devices are meant for near-perfect reproduction, sometimes on a mass scale, the reality is that the objects created with such machines and methods are not perfectly reproduced and as such occupy a unique space in the world.


Utilizing this consciously ‘unique’ method of production is not without the intention of making the form available to many people, but is in affect shifting the priority onto that of the objects value. The objects physical limitation and existence becomes its primary attribute, which is not to say that content becomes null, far from it, it is instead a visible recognition of the importance of the vessel in which content is contained. By not achieving what the digital world accomplishes so well, the print medium as a standard format of information containment and dissemination, drifts off into a place it has always known well, that of the remnant.


The loss of the historicity of content, due to its detachment from the physical, and therefore the limited rather than the unlimited, signifies a substantial shift in the way cultural materials are consumed. Previously the value, authenticity, and relevance of an object were procured from the knowledge that the creator had come in contact with that specific object. There is now only the content itself as a means of value, all other facets of the objects ‘aura’ have been lost. With the recent rise of self-publishing in certain artistic communities, a re-focusing on the importance and value of the ‘aura’ has taken place and thus sets the stage for the facets of this culture that will be further discussed.