A variety of techniques for saving and indexing have found a place in our everyday lives, allowing us to consolidate endless memory and productivity in pocket-sized devices. We’re instructed to make more prudent choices with our time, even as we feel ourselves surveilled, quantified, and recorded as points of information as never before. Writers and artists have responded to these developments in various ways: The library is frequently fetishized as a site of historical redemption, a location that will permit elementary school students and scholars alike unfettered access to unparalleled riches of the past, though it may also bring to light challenging, disruptive, or unassimilable facts; the museum is ever expanding to include more and more kinds of art, unrecognized at the time of its creation but now recovered for the benefit, pleasure, and instruction of contemporary audiences; the web is a seemingly limitless plane of storage as well as memorial.
For Deferred Consumption participants Sophia Le Fraga, Rebecca Matalon, and Marvin Taylor will present short talks on the ways in which acts of recovery and memorialization, by professionals and the general public alike, now inform contemporary visual art and literature, and vice versa. They will discuss different modes and methods of saving, from the making of archives to the making of monuments. What can be said of the future historical significance of art and literature when all is to be saved? Is saving itself an act of validation or valuation? How do our choices around what to save and what to discard affect not just future generations, but the present? For whom do we save what we save, if not ourselves?
Deferred Consumption is part of Triple Canopy’s forthcoming issue “Vanitas,” which takes its name from the opulent, hyperrealist still-life painting style of the mid-seventeenth century in the Netherlands—symbolizing the brevity of human life and the essential emptiness of earthly goods and pursuits. For this issue, Triple Canopy commissions artists, writers, and scholars to address contemporary conceptions of mortality as well as the delights, illusions, limits, and aesthetic pressures of fleshly existence, from the much-heralded “end of death” to extreme luxury and the pursuit of impossible (or near-impossible) forms of beauty. The futility of human striving meets the efficacy of the algorithm in contemporary culture, prompting us to ask: Is all still vanity?
- Sophia Le Fraga is a poet and visual artist. She is the author of The Anti-Plays (GaussPDF, 2015); literallydead (Spork, 2015); I RL, YOU RL(minuteBOOKS 2013, Troll Thread 2014); and I DON'T WANT ANYTHING TO DO WITH THE INTERNET (KTBAFC, 2012).
- Rebecca Matalon is a curator based in Los Angeles where she works at the Museum of Contemporary Art and co-runs the nonprofit project space JOAN.
- Marvin Taylor is director of the Fales Library and Special Collections at New York University where he founded the Downtown New York Collection in 1994. Taylor holds a BA in comparative literature and an MLS in librarianship from Indiana University and an MA in English from New York University. He has held positions at the Lilly Library, Indiana University; the Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University; and the Health Sciences Library, Columbia University. Taylor's research interests include experimental art, music, performance, and literature; gender politics; archival theory; masculinities; and queer theory.