«Sobre Otra Máquina Soltera», Julio Cortázar, 1967.

Since we sat down at that table at Oliveira’s and you said FALSE, that this word resonates in many ways throughout my days. I can only remember the first connection, naive and obvious, TRUTH. The old idea that a thing exists by its opposite. We understand weight by lightness, the big by the small, comfort by anxiety, memory by forgetfulness, life by death. In this first connection I also went back to António Lobo Antunes question in the preface of The Death of Ivan Ilyich by Lev Tolstoy: «is it a work about death or a work that denies death?» After all, is not this work about the urgency of living of a man before his imminent end? Since I first read it, I kept Ivan Ilyich, desperate to understand his ultimate condition, deconstructing the syllogism: «Caius is a man, men are mortal, therefore Caius is mortal.» Let’s keep in mind that a syllogism is a perfect argumentation logic, that Ivan Ilyich denies because «he was not Caius, he was not an abstract man.» Yes, Ivan Ilyich is not the abstraction of a name, or of a thought. As he claims, the size of his existence lies above any perfect logic:

«Caius really was mortal, and it was right for him to die; but for me, little Vanya, Ivan Ilyich, with all my thoughts and emotions, it's altogether a different matter. It cannot be that I ought to die. That would be too terrible.»

The Death of Ivan Ilyich, Lev Tolstoi, 1886.

«What, then, is truth? A mobile army of metaphors, metonyms, and anthropomorphisms—in short, a sum of human relations which have been enhanced, transposed, and embellished poetically and rhetorically, and which after long use seem firm, canonical, and obligatory to a people: truths are illusions about which one has forgotten that this is what they are; metaphors which are worn out and without sensuous power; coins which have lost their pictures and now matter only as metal, no longer as coins.»

«On Truth and Lie in a Extra-Moral Sense», Friedrich Nietzsche, 1873.

[Man Ray]
A man in love with a woman from a different era…
I see a photograph!

[Luis Buñuel]
I see a film!

I see an insurmountable problem!

[Salvador Dali]

Midnight in Paris, Woody Allen, 2011.

Having a critical view on the classic conception of the archive as a rigid and unchanging moment of memory, Jacques Derrida questions the truth of the truth, by mentioning Freud and his «enigmatic difference» between «material truth» and «historical truth». While the first «material truth» refers to the exact memory of the events, the second is built by the «return of the repressed», that is, the events through «performative repetition» acquire their own truth.

«If there is nothing that needs correcting in the world memory, the only thing left to do is to correct reality where it doesn't agree with that memory. Just as I cancelled the existence of my wife's lover from the punchcards, so I must cancel him from the world of the living. Which is why I am now pulling out my gun and pointing it at you, Müller, why I'm squeezing the trigger, killing you.»

– «World Memory», Italo Calvino, 1993.

In a classic approach, the archive is a repository where, according to a certain order, we keep what we consider to have value to keep for the future. It is a «memory space» or as Charles Merewether writes «the archive, as distinct from a collection or library, constitutes a repository or ordered system of documents and records, both verbal and visual, that is the foundation from which history is written.» Michel Foucault in The Archaeology of Knowledge, in turn, states that «the archive is first the law of what can be said» and in order to define the concept of the archive, Jacques Derrida argues that it is based on the recollection of the term arkhê which has the double meaning of commence and command, thus coordinating two principles of the archive:

«(…) the principle according to nature or history, there where things commence – physical, historical, or ontological principle-but also the principle according to the law, there where men and gods command, there where authority, social order are exercised, in this place from which order is given – nomological principle. »

Archive Fever: A Freudian Impression, Jacques Derrida, 1995

«If the Party could thrust its hand into the past and say of this or that event, it never happened — that, surely, was more terrifying than mere torture and death? The Party said that Oceania had never been in alliance with Eurasia. He, Winston Smith, knew that Oceania had been in alliance with Eurasia as short a time as four years ago. But where did that knowledge exist? Only in his own consciousness, which in any case must soon be annihilated. And if all others accepted the lie which the Party imposed — if all records told the same tale — then the lie passed into history and became truth. «Who controls the past,» ran the Party slogan, «controls the future: who controls the present controls the past.» And yet the past, though of its nature alterable, never had been altered. Whatever was true now was true from everlasting to everlasting. It was quite simple. All that was needed was an unending series of victories over your own memory.«Reality control», they called it: in Newspeak, «doublethink».»

1984, George Orwell, 1949

Lev Manovich in the The Language of New Media summarized the key differences between old media and new media on five principles: numerical representation, modularity, automation, variability and transcoding. Although often called new media, since it is not a matter of a temporal relationship, but rather a procedural and performative matter, the result of the digital nature of the medium itself, the designation digital media becomes more evident. In this sense, Wardrip-Fruin notes that «for something to be digital it need only be represented by discrete values,» thus any artifact, once digitalized, can be algorithmically manipulated:

«(…) we are increasingly experiencing media that not only say things and show things – but also operate. These media have internally-defined procedures that allow them to respond to their audiences, recombine their elements, and transform in ways that result in many different possibilites. These human-designed processes separate such media from fixed media, which have only one possible configuration.»

So digital media are distinguished from the remaining media by the use of computational processes, which, besides being able to receive and send a signal, because of their digital and procedural nature, have the ability to operate changes in the signal itself.

In the «Cyborg Manifesto», Donna Haraway said that «a slightly perverse shift of perspective might better enable us to contest for meanings, as well as for other forms of power and pleasure in technologically mediated societies.» So it seems that the terminology «technologically mediated society» is the perfect translation of this era, in which we upload our memory in technological prosthetics and trust in these technologies to mediate our social, economic, political and emotional structure. Thus, at a time when virtually every field of our lives is mediated by technology, and aware that these technologies are also increasingly procedural, that is, that they are able to act on the information, issues of agency and control are emerging and it becomes more indefinite who controls whom, we or the algorithms. As William S. Burroughs said, all control needs time, opposition, concession and, ultimately, it needs to be controlled.


When I approached the theme of the archive, I was also taking my first steps on code, and in a very intuitive way, I was experimenting with the possibilities of transformation that this new language allowed me. In these firsts steps I had no theoretical basis about the archive or the digital, only some intuitions on the subject that were expressed in vague gestures that were searching for something as yet undefined. Then the readings began and one of them was Archive Fever by Jacques Derrida, which guided the experiences in the sense of taking the archive as a potential site for transformation and fiction. An approach that takes the space of the archive – because of its inability to store all of a reality, but only incomplete fragments of it – as a lacunar space, being the gaps, precisely, the place for the establishment of new logics.

Around these experiences, several titles to circumscribe the research were tested. Firstly, it was named «The New in the Archive», destroyed after reading Boris Groys, when he says that the new to be new must be in the present, that is, it must be out of the archive, because once it is archived, it loses its sense novelty. A spatial/temporal conflict that not even the theory of relativity (this research’s great ally) managed to solve. Then, for lack of a better one, it was for some time named with the modest «The Archive and the New». Tests after tests on propositions followed and that resulted in the current «From the Archive to the New», a title that highlights the gesture of turning the past into the future, memory into fiction, a possibility that carries with it a huge plastic potential but also an enormous subversive potential.

About the practice. Following the mottos Walter Benjamin – «nothing that has ever happened should be regarded as lost for history –, of Florian Cramer – «in the end, the decoding of the code is not a formal, but a subjective operation» -, and of Kenneth Goldsmith in Uncreative Writing, these online essays are short computer programs, that are looking to give a new life to records that are available on the internet according to a certain conceptual direction, in this case FALSE. I call these online essays, online performances, because they reflect different aspects of the term. Thus, if we look to different meanings, we find performance as a practice in which the body functions as a medium that performs a series of actions, within a given time and space. In its execution dimension, performance is the operation of instructions in order to complete a task. Katherine N. Hayles, in the field of digital literature, calls performance, the time of production, that is, the time that the process that allows a work to be physically available to the audience takes. And in the field of new media, Lev Manovich, talking about software performances, states «what we are experiencing is constructed by software in real time.» Therefore, these online performances consist of computation programs executed by computers in real time which perform a series of pre-defined instructions in order to respond to a particular question. In this case, web resources are used, that is, language, browsers, servers, networks and protocols that allow the online information to be accessed and transformed. Because it runs in real time, the result of these essays corresponds to a temporal experience, that is, they do not result in an object but in an event where, from performed repetitions, new experiences are generated.

«I am the product of a civilization and of a culture to which I give my contribution by acting on the reality that I reach. I am a craftsman who handles and interrogates the matter with which I work.»

– «39 Tisanas», Ana Hatherly, 1969.