Past activities

6 Apr. - 7 Apr. 2017


The ubiquities of sensors that track and capture our habitual movements have turned our life-world into a latent archive. Big data developments have expanded the capturing mechanisms at work in contemporary control societies, minimizing the areas of our lives in which our movements are unknown to the archive. Most of this data is produced by ourselves: more and more people share the belief that gathering and analysing data about their everyday activities can help them improve their lives — an approach known as “self-tracking”, “body hacking” or “self-quantifying”. We readily track ourselves to improve ourselves; and in that process we build up enormous personal archives attesting to our habits and whereabouts – archives we often do not control.
13 Mar. 2017, 10:00-11:30

La Vaughn Belle

Uncertain Archives featuring La Vaughn Belle

Archives are instruments and sites of memory that intertwine past and present, here and there, in dizzying ways. Nowhere is this clearer than in the case of the archival collections that were culled from the Danish rule over the US Virgin Islands. While the archival material – and the colonial regime that produced it – is often framed as things of “the past”, the working of the archive also shows how the past nevertheless remains a present fact in both the former colonies as well as former colonial regimes.

We will discuss these issues with artist La Vaughn Belle in relation to her ongoing archival work, focusing on questions of authority, authenticity and subjectivity.   

La Vaughn Belle is a leading multidisciplinary artist from the US Virgin Islands whose work has centered around creating narratives that challenge colonial hierarchies and narratives. She holds a MFA from the Instituto Superior de Arte in Havana, Cuba and an MA and BA from Columbia University in NYC. She has taught Humanities and Visual Arts at the St. Croix campus of the University of the Virgin Islands. Her work has been exhibited in numerous exhibitions throughout the Caribbean, the USA and Denmark such as the Museo del Barrio in NY, the Havana biennial, the Museum of the African Diaspora in San Francisco, Overgaden Institute of Contemporary Art in Copenhagen and the Whim Plantation Museum in St. Croix. Over the last 10 years her work has focussed on the colonial legacy of the US Virgin Islands. Having changed hands seven times, the longest being Denmark and the last being the United States the question of coloniality has been a central theme in her work. She looks at history, architecture and other aspects of  material culture to create a space to explore collective narratives, memory and identity. Her work is often presenting alternative narratives of resistance and agency and the power of the imagination to redefine our understanding of our world.

3 Mar. 2017, 13:30

Cute Small & Deadly

A symposium on aesthetics and political forms

We live in strange times. Isis, an international terrorist organization, uses kitten pictures to soften its public image. A right wing ideologue rises to the U.S. presidency via Twitter, a media platform that miniaturizes public speech and thrives on one liners. Meanwhile, nations wage war using tiny flying cameras that are also bombs, and the iconic symbol of resistance is a pink knitted hat with ears.

Join us for an afternoon of presentations and discussion with an international group of cultural critics. And learn about two important new books: Compact Cinematics (Bloomsbury) andThe Aesthetics and Affects of Cuteness (Routledge). At 17.00, following the presentations, there will be a wine reception.

13 Feb. 2017, 14:00-16:00

Florian Sprenger: Continuity and Disconnection, Flows and Bursts - On the Interruption of Communication

In this talk Florian Sprenger (Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main) will explore the prehistory of the discourses of connectivity that we are confronted with today. The lecture will show how early electric telegraphy was conceived as a medium of immediacy and thus fostered a phantasm of connectivity. By taking into account that media theories themselves are fascinated by immediacy, it becomes obvious that concepts of community are concepts of connectivity that neglect disconnection. [This event is made possible with the support of the Danish Council for Independent Research, and part of the project on Disconnectivity in the Digital Age.]
22 Nov. 2016, 17:00-20:30

Do:Topia screening of "HyperNormalisation"

Imagine a system that doesn’t work. A failed project which is nonetheless upheld by hapless politicians with no idea how to fix it. A world tolerated by a populace, equally aware of the downwards spiral, with no idea how to escape. Imagine a world with Brexit, and where a man like Donald Trump can win the American presidential election. We’re in it, right now.

DO:TOPIA will be screening the new documentary from director Adam Curtis, HyperNormalisation. The film explores parts of the history and the events that have led to a world, where we don’t know what's right and what's wrong. But also a world, where we through the internet can facilitate mass movements, and where there may be unimaginable opportunities, if only we dare look beyond the horizon.
14 Nov. - 15 Nov. 2016


The promise of big data archives to reveal an objective truth spoken by data involves a hope to rectify the errors inherent in previously trusted statistical methods, such as sampling. Yet, what is omitted in the big data craze is the realization that archives are essentially structured by error as sites of both risk and promise. This assertion fundamentally challenges the dominant understanding the archival purpose, and its raison d’être as linked to reason and order. 
7 Nov. 2016, 14:00-16:00

Uncertain Archives afternoon feat. Evelyn Ruppert

Uncertain Archives afternoon featuring Evelyn Ruppert

Where are the political subjects of Big Data?

Prof Evelyn Ruppert, Goldsmiths, University of London

I pose the question of where are the political subjects – who I will refer to as data citizens - of Big Data in two senses. The first concerns conceptions of and relation between online and offline lives, and between ‘virtual’ and ‘real’ spaces. To pose the question of where are data citizens involves problematizing these conceptions and then asking where is the space of their becoming? The second concerns conceptions of agency and power and assumptions that subjects are either controlled or free. To pose the question of where are data citizens involves problematizing this binary and then asking through what processes do data subjects become data citizens? Those are my questions for my talk and they start from the proposition that studies of Big Data are proliferating, yet we lack concepts for framing and interpreting what these mean for political subjectivities and their relation to the data that are generated and interpreted. My objective is to provide a theory of digital acts and digital citizens that builds on this proposition to provide an approach that attends to the uncertainties of political subjectivity that involve power relations between and amongst embodied subjects who act through the Internet and in doing so are part of the making of data. By attending to this uncertainty I seek to articulate the potentialities and possibilities of acting and what this means for how we come to interpret Big Data.

4 Nov. 2016, 14:00-16:00

Uncertain Archives afternoon feat. Ben Kafka

The CEMES group ”Bureaucracy in Europe" and the research project Uncertain Archives invite you to a seminar with Professor Ben Kafka (NYU):

The Not-So-Enigmatic Signifier

The psychoanalyst Jean Laplanche proposes the concept of the "enignmatic signifier:" the subtle, typically unconscious, powerfully conflictual messages communicated to the child by its mother, messages that the child must then struggle to translate in its own mind. In this talk I want to look at some of the not-so-enigmatic signifiers that proliferate in bureaucratic contexts, and ask about what sorts of unconscious dynamics may be at work there.

9 Sept. 2016, 13:00-15:00

Liberalism, neoliberalism and the critique of governmentality

In the aftermath of the First World War two paradigms of governance emerged that were to have a decisive impact on Western statecraft in the 20th century, The Welfare State and Neoliberalism. Thought of as two non-reconcilable political rationalities, they are known for their different inherent economic strategies in shorthand often referred to as “fiscal policy” respectively “monetary policy”. Providing a different perspective, French philosopher Michel Foucault undertakes an analysis of neoliberalism, not as a particular economic school, but as a critical form of governmentality articulated in opposition and as an alternative to that of the Welfare State. Part of the archaeology of the contemporary that informed Foucault’s work, the 1979 lectures on The Birth of Biopolitics remain a thought-provoking take on the latencies of 20th century political rationality. The article discusses the three major themes in Foucault’s genealogy of contemporary politics: The market, competition and human capital.
18 Apr. 2016, 14:00-17:00

Digital Representations: Cultural, Social and Legal Critiques

Seminar, 2pm - 5pm on Monday, 18 April 2016

Room 27.0.47, University of Copenhagen at Amager


Digital technologies are changing our past, present and future. This seminar presents critical perspectives on issues including mass-digitization of cultural heritage, machine reading and bits-to-atoms transformations such as 3D-printing. Cultural, social and legal implications of applied digital technologies will be considered by the speakers who cover a broad range of disciplinary expertise.

18 Mar. 2016, 14:00-15:30

Uncertain Archives afternoon feat. Keller Easterling and Thomas Mical

Archives are predisposed to accumulate. This is not least the case for big data archives. Hence, archival loss is often logged as archival failure. But what would it mean to think about archival subtraction, not as a mode of failure, but rather as a meaningful political act? We will discuss these questions with architect and writer Keller Easterling in relation to her recent book Subtraction (Sternberg Press, 2014). 

Sign-up required at Reading material will be distributed to participants beforehand. 

16 Mar. 2016, 13:00-14:00

Talk by N. Katherine Hayles: Rethinking Cognition: Implications for the Humanities

The question of whether machines can think has been a controversial subject now for more than half a century, with seminal contributions by Alan Turing, John Searle, Daniel Dennett and others.  These controversies have received fresh impetus with the advent of the digital humanities, with some scholars, notably John Guillory, saying there is an “immeasurable gap” between what human interpretation can do and what machine analysis can achieve, and others such as Franco Moretti making a strong case for “distant reading” using machine analytics.  This talk offers a fresh perspective by changing the focus from thinking to nonconscious cognition, arguing that computational media perform many sophisticated cognitive tasks.  The implications for this changed perspective are explored for the digital humanities and their potential contributions to humanistic discourse.
14 Mar. - 15 Mar. 2016

Love's Archives

The conditions and codes of romantic love once extolled by romantic fiction in modern European contexts can be seen to be rapidly evolving. Reasons for this may include: new forms of media; rapidly differentiating social sub systems; extended and increasingly fragmented family groups; acceptance of non-hetero relationships; acknowledgement of gender as a non-binary condition; and digital platforms that make public what could previously remain marginalised. Today, genetic techniques that bypass physical mediation may reframe associations of love as a prerequisite of procreation. How much of love is something that can be learned, and how much is innate? How have our understandings or expectations of love changed with the cultural shifts of the past several decades? How do we reconcile loves romantically incalculable aspirations with its increasing capacity to appear calculable, algorithmic and commodified?

In this workshop, we begin to explore aspects of love in the context of the contemporary postdigital milieu. Perhaps ‘love’ today no longer pertains to the totality favoured by modern disciplinary societies. Or its penchant for simplified binary opposition that suggested our absent half be located in order to become complete. If love can be thought as a way that bodies are consensually disciplined toward economic and social goals of the state, then it latterly describes increasingly episodic, precarious, discrete, or distributed conditions.

7 Jan. 2016, 18:00-19:30


Med afsæt i Thorbjørn Laustens brug af videnskabelige data inviterer Overgaden til paneldebat om datavisualiseringer.

Denne aften sætter vi fokus på, hvilken rolle de digitale billed- og datastrømme spiller i vores forståelse og sansning af verden i en tid, hvor informationsteknologien i stigende grad dominerer. Hvilken indflydelse har det digitale på vores forståelse af begreber som objektivitet og repræsentation? Hvordan kommer den teknologiske udvikling til udtryk i kunsten, og hvilke samarbejder på tværs af videnskab, kunst og teknologi påkalder og muliggør denne udvikling?

Panelet består af Pernille Leth-Espensen, postdoc på Kunsthistorie ved Institut for Kommunikation og Kultur,  Aarhus Universitet; Morten Søndergaard, media art curator og lektor i mediekunst ved Institut for Kommunikation på AAU i København; og Nanna Bonde Thylstrup, postdoc ved Institut for Kunst- og Kulturvidenskab på Københavns Universitet.

Moderator: Rasmus Vestergaard, kurator på Kunsthal DIAS – Digital Interactive Art Space.

10 Dec. 2015, 14:00-16:00

Screening: Harun Farocki

Harun Farocki is one of the most articulate explorers of contemporary life, its myriad depredations — war, imprisonment, surveillance, capitalism — and the visual stimuli that attend them. In December, the research network Uncertain Archives screens four of his movies. First we show Farocki’s series Auge/Machine I-III in which Farocki explores the advent of “operational images” made by algorithms and image-making machines. Secondly, we show Nicht ohne Risiko (2004), which ventures into the world of venture capitalism and “risk economy”. The screening is in German without subtitles. 

Attendance is free. Please sign up with