Since around the 1950s and 60’s, it has become traditional for art and cultural projects to use documentation as a way of dissemination, circulation, and evidence generation of activities and related works.
Through such practices we get various kinds of documentation critique. Ideas that critically engage with specific modes of documentation. For example, photography philosophy that claims events, works and projects are made for the camera.
If cameras have not witnessed such and such act, did the action occur? (A claim that may find contemporary resonances from humans going on civil-rights demos just to get instagramed, through to sentiments that when activities are not shared online – it is as if they never happened, and art oriented works like “How Not To Be Seen” by Hito Steyerl.)
I think that documentation has a range of aesthetic enclosures of entertainment – walled gardens made of transparent bricks. Yes – documentations, like Anderson’s emperor, come naked IMHO.
Documentary dynamics create binary aesthetics made of contemplating Work/Project as a set Reality on one side, and a “documenting” Image/Representation of that reality on another side.
A dynamic which obfuscates the fact that any record is a measurement measuring itself. (hence the cultural conflicts between measurements. Like between metric and imperial.) A binarism that considers a reality beyond the documentation. Something that documenting materials come as an evidence for.
While this may sound like dismissing a real beyond the means of perception – as if the “real” comes only as the Means of perception, the ideas here are slightly different.
A difference which requires clarification since there’s a connection with the idea of creating an aesthetic language.
To put it somehow crudely:
Yes, the viromecaravan moves as a reality.
However, documenting that, focuses attention on the subject – ie viromecaravan as a reality – rather than the fact that via the documentation we spontaneously have new dynamics – hence new realities emerge. Reals that were not there prior to documentation.
A friction between such and such documentational manner, and the viromecaravan brings a new In-Between. Such In-Betweens, such Intervals, rather than images, texts, sounds and other documentation processes – come to life – such intervals are realities in and of themselves, as much as the caravan is.
While its clear that for certain cultural and art activities documentation of some kind or another is imperative, else the whole effort, the whole set of gestures may evaporate like a fang bite from a cloud –
I think How the documentative process operates has a range of resonances and connections which may require, at the very least, new questioning and approaches.
Documentation questioning occurs in various ways through activities I am connected with.
The radical way is to abandon documentation by:
opening up for other elements to get involved in whatever effort is taken.
Considering activities as Ports that create languages to escape. IE
do we need to document the language of Cinema? Computing? Networking? Painting? Philosophising? English? and so on?
Sure, we get documents, data in one way or another that offer suggestions on How to do these languages. However such documents operate as ways of sharing ideas on how to evolve such and such language – they are part of the language’s evolution.
Indeed, when languages begin to come documented as a reality – such documentation comes in ways of and for preservation. An attempt to keep a record of something that’s eminently dying.