Thoughts on Dust and Dissonant Archives by Sam Posner

The Public Access Digital Media Archive contains 3800 videos and 10 texts. One of these texts was written in April, 2010, in Beirut. It also appears on page 353 of Dissonant Archives, the book. The sixth of these “10 Theses On the Archive” mirrors the eleventh of Marx’s “Theses on Feuerbach.” “Historians have merely interpreted the Archive,” it reads. “The Point however is to Feel it.”

I don’t feel anything.

Maybe the Archive modifies my conditions of knowing and possibilities of acting; my capacities and potentials. Maybe it’s doing that right now, asserting a History that I shall project on into the future. Where is the affect? The fever? The ecstasy? If the plan was working, the Archive wrested from the “euphoric security” of dusty, academic disciplinism, would I feel it?

Or is this sense of stasis not a product of political machinations but something fundamental to the nature of the Archive.
Maybe the changes always come silently, and Derrida was right.

“The archive: if we want to know what this will have meant, we will only know tomorrow. Perhaps.”

The Emperor’s New Archive by Everest Strayer

The question of this archive is a question of access. A
question of context, as well as, as question of form and truth.
The question of access is what happens when one
unwillingly gives open access to an archive of the self? What
happens when one’s most uncensored thoughts are open for
all to see? This dress is an archive of the self. It is taking
something that we show to no one and putting it in a form
that is open to everyone. Clothing is how we judge, likened
photo on tinder or a cover of a book, it can be superficial and
often misleading.


This is where it becomes a question of context. Although its
form is not rooted in ‘traditional forms’ of archival work
what makes this archive any less truthful? What I mean is,
because clothing is associated with superficiality, does this
change how information is perceived in presented in such a
different form? Is form more important than the actual
truthfulness in an account? Why are we quick to ignore the
information in a dress and affirm a personal account in a
book? Both are skewed in their memory of an event and we
put unconditional trust in both. The only difference is one
takes the form of something we have been conditioned to
associate with truth and the archive. The other is a form of
superficiality clothing.


Something we wear to cover and hide our true selves from the world.


My answer to the question of context is that yes form
matters. Throughout the day of wearing this dress most knew
nothing of what it meant. Comments of “I like your dress” or
“That’s such a pretty pattern” were common. While I might
have gone outside felt psychologically naked, others had no
idea what that the content of the dress meant. They had
access to information that even my own mother has never
had the privilege to see only it was out of context, out of a
book, and therefore not seen as a true source of information.
Can we trust the archive? Does its pages truly hold the truth
we seek? And even if it does, what are we missing? What
truths are we overlooking because they are not bound in
pages and dust? Only in the Emperor’s eyes is he clothed.


Subjectivity, Mania, & Uselessness: The Fall 2015 MCSI Archive … Archive by Jaren Eakin, Drew Woods, and Sam Posner

Sorry to deceive you with our false abstract located here:

The real abstract for this project resides at but to be true to the subversive nature of this project we aren’t going to tell you where it is. ☺

Archiving from the perspective of a group experiencing Derrida’s “Archive Fever” was an entertaining approach to this project. I was at first apprehensive about compiling the assets in a purposely misleading manner, as my preconceived purpose of an archive was that of authenticity, prompting the motivating question of “How can I authentically capture the experience of Fall 2015 MCSI Archive?” As this course progressed, the conceptual idea of an archive became more unhinged and nebulous, especially when considering how an individual’s subjectivity, neurosis not excluded, shapes an archive. The question then became “How can I capture the subjective influence of the individual on an archive through the context of Fall 2015 MCSI Archive?” Aside from the Hydra of abstract questions concerning an archive, referenced from my Dust reflections, I struggle with one final issue: Is the falseness of our archive authentic since mania, in this context, is simulated and therefore less valid? -Jared Eakin

Compiling the student folders was an interesting opportunity to reflect on the subjectivity of this project. How often are the contents of an archive also the only audience of that archive? I felt nervous when the students were looking at their folders. Was there something in the notes/minutes written about them that they would find in poor taste? I think it’s very possible. My other thought was, how does the mania of this archive protect us from taking responsibility for this tastelessness? Are we forgiven based on the fact that these more intrusive elements exist among a large collection of obsessive nonsense? -Drew Woods

While taking notes on the seminars, I indulged in manic Wikipedia trips, allowing my mind to follow whatever tangential information sparked my interest… that’s the subjectivity, and perhaps the uselessness. Then I treated these idle thoughts as worthy of documentation, coming back around to mania. -Sam Posner

How to Relate to An Archive: Creativity Across Generations by Stephanie Mace

How are we affected and connected to familial archives? How do we relate to the people and places that they represent? These are the key questions that I attempt to answer in my final project for MCSI: Archive:


My show and digital blog include a collection of a sketches and paintings that my great grandfather produced. These sketches capture various scenes from Marktoberdorf, the village where he lived. Some of the sketches also document his visits to New Jersey, where my Nana eventually settled after studying foreign languages in France. The images are organized by the seasons that they represent: autumn, winter, spring and summer.

To reflect on the idea of creativity across generations, I wrote short poems inspired by my relationship with each group of poems. These poems consider themes of family, memory and childhood. Some of them relate directly to my great grandfather while others deal with my own life and memories.

In organizing the sketches and paintings, I felt very connected to my great-grandfather and to his village. Although I have visited Marktoberdorf, I never met my great-grandfather, as he passed away before I was born. Furthermore, I have only seen the village during the summer months.

I believe that the connection I felt to my great-grandfather and Marktoberdorf came from the personal and accessible nature of the archive he produced. It also resulted from my strong to desire to understand his life and relate to another creative member of my family, as most of my immediate family prefers science and finance to art and writing.
Writing poems further strengthened the connections that I felt, as I studied the sketches and paintings more closely. The images also led me to write poems based on emotions of nostalgia and joy, emotions that also seem to define much of my great grandfather’s work. Overall, this project allowed me to develop a greater sense of identity as I related to the past, gained a stronger understanding of my history, and found meaning in family memories.

Social Media as Archives, by Sabrina Schroeder

My project looks at how social media build communities, (or if it even does) and how social media creates a digital archive of our lives. As social media becomes more and more important in our daily lives, we begin to rely on it for everyday communication. It has become a way to keep up with old friends, family, and even in some cases make new friends. I also discussed how people use social media for political protest and activism.

At the end of the paper, I discussed how even though social media has been used for a lot of good, it has caused a lot of damage. Drawing on Sherry Turkle, I used her book, “Alone Together”, to illustrate the dangers of social media. Many people now days, get addicted to the Internet and can develop serious problems. Loneliness is also a common problem and the Internet is not helping.

Overall, my paper talks about how social media has influenced our lives and way of communicating with one another.

Social Media Archive Paper

Social Media MCSI Archive

Archiving Loss: A Story of the Foster Care Experience, by Dana Brozost-Kelleher

In thinking about the archive, the question of loss is unavoidable. The nature of loss in many ways is the organizing force of the archive, working to provide the collection with meaning. I designed this project to examine the theme of loss within the personal archive, which plays an integral role in determining the compilation of memories, belongings, and people from our past that are catalogued and attributed the value of historical inclusion. Through the collection of personal objects, the process of digitization, and the use of oral history testimony, this project aims to archive the childhood story of a unique adult individual, who was forced to grow up within the foster care system, experiencing a sense of loss unimaginable to most. Upon entrance into the foster care system, the participant was forced to leave behind her family, friends, belongings, the site of her childhood memories, and a large part of herself. Thus, the creation of this archive finds meaning not from what is included in the collection, but rather through its illumination of all that was lost.

I informed the participant that I hoped to archive a collection of significant objects from her past to help contextualize her childhood story within a larger framework of historical meaning. The objects that she found and we included in the archive were notably limited due to the constant state of flux that characterized her childhood years, determining what she was able to hold on to. Despite this physical limitation, the objects selected are still able to represent her most formative years, depicting both the pain of her individual experience, as well as a more collective representation of the foster child. For each object collected, I asked the individual to describe what it was, when it was from, and its significance to her. I found she was able to speak longer and in greater depth about some objects than others, leaving notable gaps in specific areas of her story. Thus, loss is rooted not just in the embodiment of desire encompassed in the physical objects, but in her words and memories as well. I audio recorded her answers and transcribed her words as closely as possible to their original telling. After digitizing the material objects and organizing them chronologically, I connected the pieces of her story together within a curatorial space of an online website.

Archive Project

The Sound Archive by Aaron Tsai and Drew Wesley

Sound involves changes in the pressure of the air, and travels as waves in the air,” explains Charles Taylor. Sound travels in time, fusing the temporal and the spatial, and producing reflections and echoes in hearing and understanding. Sound is fluid, transitory, and mutating. Its beginning and ending points are not discrete. In that respect it is lost and open to change, challenging the “first” and the “foremost”. Sound does not belong to one single fixed body and space. It rather circulates between bodies and between spaces.” – The Problem of Archiving Soundworks, Zeynep Bulut

“Each performance refracts the archive through the performer’s interpretation, and each is then reflected in the archive, as the interpretation becomes another record, or another path through the record that can be retraced … Your performance, of course, is an interpretation as well as an appeal: a synthesis of these other performances, perhaps even more destructive, perhaps less.” – What We Left Unfinished, Miriam Ghani

In our final project for MCSI: Archive, we wanted to explore several central questions around sound, loss, and interpretation. What is lost in person-to-person sonic interpretation? What is lost when archiving sounds? How does one experience a sonic archive without visual-spatial contextualization? What is a sonic experience?

The Sound Archive attempts to scratch the surface of these questions. In order to keep track of the compilation of the sounds of our daily lives, we created a blog ( in which we uploaded sound bytes from our everyday lives. Besides the short descriptions and date markers included under each sound, the blog itself was kept fairly blank in order to allow the viewer to bring their own set of knowledge to the archive. Partly inspired by Ania Dabrowski’s work in The Lebanese Archive (where she intentionally removed names, dates, and captions from each image to allow the viewer room for as much interpretation as possible), we wanted to be the first ones to experience our archive. In revisiting the blog and encountering the sonic archive, the sounds invoked feelings (some stronger than others) and mental images that we represented with photos. These photos are printed along with visual waveforms (visual representations of the sounds created on and compiled into a separate, printed archive.

As mentioned by Zeynep Bulut in her essay on The Problem of Archiving Soundworks, the incompleteness and ephemerality of sound always implies loss. Just like how it is impossible for our ears to process pure, unmediated sound, sound recordings can never capture the fullness of actual sound. Still, our digital sound recordings were able to invoke memories and feelings in the same ways that more visual archives do. Although one loses visual-spatial context with sound, it is precisely sound’s property of incompleteness, the loss of context, that allows us to truly experience the archive.

Sound Archive Final Presentation

Loss and Connections in Zines by Andy Wright

Warning: My zine contains a fair amount of profane language and crass ideas, including (but not limited to) pooping, serial killers, and the abuse of alcohol, tobacco, and marijuana. If you find it offensive, my apologies; it was intended to be at times.

I have created a short zine, titled HOW TO BE A STARVING ERRATIC PERSECUTED DYING APATHETIC RECOVERING MOTHERFUCKER LIKE ME. Within its pages, I detail how each different word of the title relates to me, with three exceptions (I include two extra sections, and left out “APATHETIC” as a joke.) Through deeply personal stream of consciousness style writing and utilizing a style I know is incredibly abrasive (black and white handwritten notes about my own crude thoughts, essentially), I began writing hoping to create an archive that I had hypercontrol over. This would be a rejection of the Archive I perceived prior to taking this class, one of imperialistic origins. By writing only myself, I do not possess dominion over others; only myself

And yet, as I continued through the writing process, the project took on a new goal. I began to appreciate the beauty loss of the Archive, of the written word, of the ink drying on the page. I know now that I cannot control or distill my own identity through the zine, and the stream of consciousness style doesn’t do anything to help it. So, here we reach the real reason I wrote the zine: like all good humans, I want to live forever and everywhere. The zine becomes my way of this; if I create what Buber would call an “I-You” moment with the reader, a moment that “can only be [experienced] with one’s whole being” (54), than my memory will live on in your minds.

I hope enter that transcendent space the Archive promises me: I will beome simultaneously the object and the cataloger, the Archive’s Alpha and Omega. If “basic words are spoken with one’s being” (Buber, 54), perhaps these humble words I scrawled onto stolen printer paper in hiding can allow you to become one with my the zine’s being (and through it, a representation of my own inner machinations.) I do this for your love and understanding, but, more importantly, for my own.

I’ve put a link to the zine on Issuu below, though I believe it works better as a paper copy. I’ll be passing around a few copies (limited due to my printing budget) during my presentation, and I welcome your feedback.

Dust and Ashes, MCSI Final Project by Rebecca Dollinger

Dust and Ashes, MCSI Final Project by Rebecca Dollinger
Abe Katz
Abe Katz is a 93-year-old Holocaust survivor currently residing in Salt Lake City, Utah. At fourteen, he was abducted by Nazi officers and sent to spend his teenage years in concentration camps. 
A Jewish Fable
There is a lovely Jewish story of Rabbi Simcha Bunim, a leading Polish Chasidic rabbi in the late 18th-early 19th century.
“Every person should have two pockets.  In one pocket should be a piece of paper saying: ‘I am but dust and ashes’ (Genesis 18:27).  In the other pocket should be a piece of paper saying: ‘For my sake was the world created’ (Mishnah Sanhedrin 4:5)…Our challenge is to live our lives recognizing the significance of these paradoxical truths, remembering the world was created for our sake, while at the same time recognizing that we are only dust and ashes.”
Our time on this Earth matters, yet we are barely more than a speck of dust in the vastness of this universe. Every one of us has a life and story. Someday, we will be nothing more than a story. Then time will pass as it always does and we will be forgotten. 
Another Jewish story tells of death. We die twice, our rabbis teach. Once, when our physical body dies. Then, we die when our name is spoken for the last time.  
This is the story of a name. This is the story of a genocide. This is a story of life and it is a story of death. This story will be of dust and ashes, retelling a story of strength that sits next to a story of cremation. 
Archives and Memories: The Holocaust

As the reader is hopefully aware, World War II and the Nazi concentration camps remains one of the the most horrendous and disturbing genocides in recorded human history. Before transcribing and archiving Abe’s story, I did my research about the Nazi regime and the attempted elimination of the Jewish people. 
I discovered what I believe are the two attempts we have at archiving this catastrophe: universal archive and personal archive. 
The universal archive may best be illustrated in the documentary “Paper Clips” In this film, students attempted to understand the scale of the the victims lost to the concentration camps. The students fill a train car with 6 million paper clips, each one representing a life lost.  
Over 6 million Jewish lives were destroyed, along with over 5 million non-Jewish lives. I remember watching this film in seventh grade, at my Jewish day school. Upon reflecting on the concept of the project, Our English teacher, Mr. Knox, explained to us, “it’s hard to imagine such a huge number. 10,000 or 6 million, it seems the same.” (2009, not an exact quote)
And it was true. There is so much to comprehend about this awful period. 

Auschwitz: Inside the Nazi State
I watched a PBS documentary series Auschwitz: Inside the Nazi State While there are personal stories included throughout the series, a vast majority of the documentary focuses on the Holocaust as a whole.
The goal of the Nazi killings was to dehumanize their victims. They had no names, they had numbers. These Jews were not people, they did not have stories and lives and families. They were parasites to be exterminated. They were clogs on the system of utopia. They were target practice. 
Interviewer: Could you tell me what you were thinking and feeling when you were shooting?
Hans Friedrich: Nothing. I only thought, ‘Aim carefully’ so that you hit properly. That was my thought.
Interviewer: This was your only thought? During all that time you had no feelings for the people, the Jewish civilians that you shot?
Hans Friedrich: No.

Hans Friedrich, 1st SS Infantry Brigade
Personal Archive and Memory
I spent most of my high school years reading about and participating in volunteer programs about the Holocaust era, and I have learned less than a drop in the bucket. 
My junior year of high school, I participated in The Next Chapter, where I interviewed a Holocaust survivor who had escaped the camps and lived in England for much of her childhood. 
I believe this program was the perfect intersection of the universal and the personal archive. When I say “universal archive”, I am referring to the scale and the atrocity that happened to the Jewish population as a whole and to the human population of the world during this time. I learned the facts and figures, and I learned a personal story of pain and struggle. 

Abe Katz, Auschwitz Survivor
Abe Katz was where I began and he will be my final story. Abe stands strong at 93 years old, a testament to bravery and overcoming incredible odds. I recorded his story and transcribed it. His story is over two hours long, so I am including just a brief sample of it.
I am also including the literal voice recording, because I found that something was lost when I looked at the text. Abe has a strong German accent. His story should not be read or heard, but listened to profoundly, in the space that it sits. And here it will stay, a memory of a life that was lived.
Abe Katz: Auschwitz—Auschwitz was Hell (it was the main camp). Thousands and thousands of people—they came into Auschwitz. We were brought into a big place—like a football field—and all of us had to stay there for hours and then we finally—another camp we had to drop all our clothes, stand naked, and a guy– supposedly like a doctor—had the monocle in his eyes and (he had) the belt and the buckles and all that. We had to line up and he went through us, between us, and he pointed his finger, ‘You go this way, you go this way,’ The ones who went this way, they were going to the crematoriums. I didn’t look at them. And the other ones, when he pointed this way, like me, I was a young guy. They can see that I can work—produce, or whatever. So I went to the good line. 
(pause, sharp breath)
The sleeping quarters—the barracks. It was bunks. Built– one, two, three, (hand motion to demonstrate their vertical build) and posts between another three, and another three. As long as a city block, almost. We slept six in a bunk. The only way we could fit in the bunk was just laying (on our) side. If we rolled then it would shatter. A guy was on watch, and every hour the lights—he’d turn the lights on in the barracks, and blow a whistle, and everybody had to turn around on the other side. And that had to be all six together, because there was no room. So we just slept and after a while we lay there for a while. And in the morning we got up, and there was a guy between us who would never get up anymore. And that’s the way it was, every day.
Abe is more than a name and more than a number. Abe Katz, you are a powerful man. Abe Katz, you are more than your struggles and you are a symbol of unwavering strength. Abe Katz, your story will be told. Your story is important. You will be remembered.


“Auschwitz: Inside the Nazi State.” PBS. PBS, n.d. Web. 
 Clark, Roy Peter. Writing Tools: 50 Essential Strategies for Every Writer. New York: Little, Brown, 2006. Print.
Cohen, Kerry. The Truth of Memoir: How to Write about Yourself and Others with Honesty, Emotion, and Integrity. Print. 
Kubert, Joe. Yossel: April 19, 1943 : A Story of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. New York, 2003. Print.
 “Utah Auschwitz Survivor: ‘This Story Should Not Be Forgotten. It Could Happen Again.’” The Salt Lake Tribune. Web. 8 Dec. 2015.
“The Next Chapter – JFCS Holocaust Center of SF.” JFCS Holocaust Center of SF The Next Chapter Comments. Web.

“Homepage – JFCS Holocaust Center of SF.” JFCS Holocaust Center of SF Homepage Comments. Web. 
“Two Pockets – Rabbi Simcha Bunim of Peshischa.” Me’ah Sh’arim. Web.

Photos by Shayna Dollinger

Audio was Recorded by Rebecca Dollinger; Voice of Abe Katz

Kitabu Yangu: My life in Books by Sonal Patel


My project is a blog about my connection with books. I decided to think about my life in three stages: child, teenager, and adult. Throughout each phase, I read different books that were important to me from nursery rhymes to Laboring Women. I hand-selected the texts I found most influential in my life and responded to them from my point view when I read them versus now as a twenty year old (the “then” and “now” concept). It was such an exciting project and I am so thrilled to share it with everyone. This blog is an archive of self – my archive where you see moments of my life through my discussion of books. There are many gaps or silences considering I didn’t talk about every day of my life, but I will leave it up to the readers to interpret what they will from that loss.