DOCAM12

The DOCAM conferences are devoted to the concept of the document. DOCAM12 is hosted by the Faculty of Information and Media Studies at The University of Western Ontario in London, Ontario, Canada, on 15-17 August, 2012.

What are documentation studies?
Humans produce, discover, worship and despise documents, gather around them, attune themselves and each other to them, wage disputes over them, enroll them as allies, and deploy them to guide, coordinate, direct, control, deceive, manipulate, sort, or even to "make up" people, as Ian Hacking puts it. Although documents do much more than merely convey "content” or "information”, documentation investigates the conditions of the possibility of and factors accounting for, not only their informativeness, but their awe, wonder, aura, and a wide range of affects, from love and delight to revulsion and disgust.

Documents circulate in specific kinds of apparatuses, which exhibit varying degrees of complexity according to the arrangements between their materialities, technologies, political, economic, and cultural configurations, and a multiplicity of intended and unintended documentary practices. The labour required to maintain these apparatuses, its necessity, its actors and agents, its success or failure, and the complex arrangements accounting for the stability of documentary apparatuses, are phenomena of interest for document studies.

Documentary apparatuses assume many forms. Among them are the bureaucratic machines analysed by thinkers as diverse as Max Weber and Franz Kafka; legal, medical, corporate, and governmental document systems; the documentary machinery of auditors, accountants, and bookkeepers; the systems of archival, library, and record management protocols, techniques and technologies; the enormous documentary apparatuses envisioned by the many "world brain” enthusiasts, from the earliest dreams of controlling all human documents to the age of Google; the systems of scientific knowledge production in its many historical varieties, functions, forms and mutations; the disciplinary document systems studied by Michele Foucault; the overtly oppressive systems constructed by regimes such as Apartheid South Africa and the German Democratic Republic, as well as the documentary apparatuses of resistance to them. Also important are the "minor” apparatuses of diverse documentary communities, ranging from the seventeenth-century Academy of Linceans to contemporary Kirk/Spock fan fiction writers and readers.

Document studies investigate relationships between documents and signs, signals, traces, texts, communication, memory, knowledge, authorship, ignorance, persuasion, indoctrination, in addition to relevant forms of artistic and creative expression in the arts: in drawing, painting, music, literature, photography, and beyond. Theoretical and empirical scholarship on the nature and effects of the materiality of documents address the effects of various documentary substrates, including but not limited to, stone, parchment, various kinds of paper, film, CD-ROMs, and hard drives. Documents conceived as products of inscription devices direct attention to a range of writing technologies, be they instruments of the human hand, still or moving cameras, radio, telegraph, gramophone, film, typewriter, or computer. Document studies are indebted to scholarly textual editing and bibliography for their rigorous attention to the study of written, printed, and digital documents. Forms of documents, whether wall writings or paintings, inscriptions on rings, on pottery or gravestones, in the manuscript or printed book, on film, or on posters attached to poles, walls, or notes stuck to computer screens, also present rich material for document studies.

Although documents produced by and for humans have dominated document studies, investigations ranging from the ideas of late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century documentalists to those of recent German media scholarship have recognized objects not produced by humans, and both non-human creatures and their products as documents in their own right. Recent media archaeology includes conceptions of medial inscription apparatuses in terms of modes of transmission, recording, and coupling, especially between animals and their environment; the pheromone trails of ants and the dances of bees exhibit robust documentary properties. Stones, geological formations, and trunks of trees bear inscriptions of the passage of time, as do changes in the coloration of birds and other animals; such non-human inscriptions are the products of dynamic arrangements of forces that will continue to operate long after the human species has vanished. Non-human documentation also appears in mathematical and engineering-based information theory, where the phenomena of interest are autonomous, information-machinic forms of documentation. Today, machines write for and to each other, and much of what they write is beyond human control or understanding. Conceived most generally, documentation includes writing or inscription apparatuses far beyond human invention.

DOCAM12 welcomes scholarship on documentation in the widest and most general sense. It encourages conversations, confrontations, robust and uneasy alliances, marriages and divorces among a multiplicity of conceptions of documents and documentary processes, across fields as diverse as, but not limited to, literary and media studies, science and technology studies, library science, museum studies, anthropology, sociology, political science, communications theory, cultural theory, philosophy, archival science, textual editing, bibliography, the history of the book, and legal, business, and organizational studies. The Faculty of Information and Media Studies at The University of Western Ontario welcomes registrants to the 2012 conference of The Document Academy.

 
Keynote Speaker


petersDr. John Durham Peters

Craig Baird Professor, Department of Communication Studies, University of Iowa


"Of Cetaceans, Deities, and Databases"

Abstract: This talk raises a well-known question for documents today storage and archiving. What is the materiality of documents? A look at cetaceans helps us think through this question. And what is the long-term viability of documents? A look at Google helps us think through this. Dolphins point us to the close relation of documents to habitat infrastructures, and Google's rhetoric points us to a different habitat, the heavens. Thus, we explore media in maritime, terrestrial, and celestial environments, trying to understand their different implications for the fixation of meaning.

Dr. Peters is internationally recognized as a preeminent media historian and social theorist. His acclaimed first book (1999) , Speaking into the Air: A History of the Idea of Communication, traces the historical, philosophical, religious, cultural, legal, and technological vectors of an archaeology of the concept of communication. It was followed in 2005 by Courting the Abyss: Free Speech and the Liberal Tradition. His current book project is Promiscuous Knowledge: The Information Society in Historical Perspective. His many articles and presentations range from political and social theory, hermeneutics, studies of specific media technologies, media history, obscenity, clocks, calendars, and recent German media theory, to studies of Socrates, Jesus, St. Paul, Milton, Dewey, Hegel, Locke, Kittler, McLuhan, Kafka, Adorno and Horkheimer, to name but a few of the thinkers whose analyses reward attentive readers.

DOCAM12 is delighted and honoured to welcome Dr. John Durham Peters as keynote speaker.

Anselm Kiefer's book sculptures




From Rosamond Purcell's " Bookworm "