Matters of Provenance


Spieker, Sven., The Big Archive: Art from Bureaucracy (London: The MIT Press, 2008) 1-15



The fact that film and photography, in Benjamin’s examples, often leave their objects unrecognizable because they reproduce only parts of them or bcause they reproduce them at very close range (“enlargement not merely clarifies what we see indistinctly ‘in any case,’ but brings to light entirely new structures of matter”) is equivalent to the presence of fragmentary remnants of the past in an archive.  Like the latter, photography and film take as their departure point not the past original but a series of fragmentary traces in the present, suggesting that any access to that original has to proceed from an archive of such fragments.



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