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Themesicon: navigation pathPhoto/Byteicon: navigation pathArchive—post/photographic
The Pencil of Nature (Talbot, Henry Fox), 1844

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while Alexandrianism stands still. And this, precisely, is what justifies the avant-garde's methods and makes them necessary.» [5] If one understands ‹Alexandrianism› here as a metaphor for the towering and functionalized photo archive, then the different strategies of the ‹avant-garde› so emphatically invoked by Greenberg would have to include clearing away this archive—to subject it to a «desedimentation,» to borrow a term from Derrida—and therefore reshape it, burst it open, make it questionable. This seems to have been acknowledged in recent years. The archive is playing an increasing role in artistic strategies and their theoretical reflection, as becomes clear, for instance, in two recent, comprehensive exhibition projects and publications—«Deep Storage» [6] and «Interarchive.» [7] The fact that this intensification of the discussion about the role of the archive is already taking place in the ‹post-photographic› phase can possibly itself be regarded as a symptom of its reordering.

However, I would first like to briefly recapitulate this alliance between photography and the archive. I will first present four exemplary archival uses of


photography in order to then explain the changes under the sign of the digital.

Form divorced from matter—The «monument archive photography»

In «The Pencil of Nature» (1844), the first book ever published on photography, William Henry Fox Talbot wrote that the camera «delineates in a few moments the almost endless details of Gothic architecture».

[8] By order of the Commission des monuments historiques, the ‹Mission Héliographique› was organized in 1851. Well-known photographers of the time such as Hippolyte Bayard and Édouard Baldus were commissioned to travel to different regions of France in order to take photographs of historical monuments. By the late nineteenth century, the desired archiving of (architectural) art treasures that had been deemed important ultimately became a «megalomanic dream»: [9] Beginning in 1881, Albrecht Meydenbauer, director of the Preussische Königliche Messbildanstalt (Royal Prussian Photogrammetric Institution), attempted to set up a gigantic archive of monuments. It was intended to include photographs on the basis of which

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