Timo Arnall "Internet Machine" elasticspace.com

Uncertain Archives

We are surrounded by apparatuses that capture, process and archive social and material information without cease and to increasing degree. These range from global search engines to local smart cities technology; from public health monitoring to personal self-tracking. Although the use of big data emerged from the human desire to acquire more knowledge, tame information overload and eliminate human error in large-scale information management, it has in recent years become clear that big data apparatuses, and the archives they accrue, bring with them new and crucial uncertainties in the form of new bias dynamics, worrying systemic errors and, as a result, new ethical challenges which require urgent attention and analysis. Now that the hype of the technological capabilities are subsiding and giving way to a more critical second-generation of scholarship, the ambition of this research group is to examine the range of epistemological, political and ethical uncertainties that are being raised by data-intensive environments.

The Uncertain Archives research group originates at the Department of Arts and Cultural Studies, University of Copenhagen, funded by a grant by the Danish Research Council (YDUN), but has since extended its scope and can today be regarded as a collective of researchers that form a research hub which brings together a number of scholars and artists based at different institutions in Denmark and abroad dedicated to thinking critically about the unknowns, the errors and the vulnerabilities of archives in an age of datafication.