The Total Archive, CRASSH, Cambridge, 2015

Blind Windows: Between Order and Opacity in Camille Henrot’s Grosse Fatigue

Camille Henrot’s 2013 film, Grosse Fatigue, tells the story of the creation of the Universe, drawing together the Natural History Museum, Spoken Word and the Web as analogous attempts to produce totalised systems of knowledge. Yet the formal geometries of the archive appear to differ from the non-hierarchical forms of information retrieval online. Looking at the historical development of hypertext systems – from Vannevar Bush’s ‘Memex’ device to Ted Nelson’s desire to meet the ‘absent-minded professor’ on his or her own terms – this paper considers to what extent the Total Archive of the Web accommodates subjective requirements in accessing information. Algorithmic personalisation, walled gardens and related-content plugins reveal a tension between autonomy and automation that reverberates throughout the film’s mediation between chaos and order and transparency and opacity.

2pm 19 March 2015

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