noun pa-limp-sest \ pa-l m(p)- sest, p - lim(p)-\
: a very old document on which the original writing has been effaced and replaced with newer writing
: something that has changed over time and shows evidence of that change
The natural foundations of our memory are slowly collapsing. Remembering as a basic human activity is turning into an underrated exercise. This is because more and more information is externalized on portable devices, hard drives and online cloud services. Mankind’s burgeoning desire is to rescue every bit of information from obscurity and safeguard scien-tific and cultural knowledge. Yet, to do so means that we are becoming increasingly de-pendent on technology and digital media.
The acceleration of technology introduces some serious risks. It dangers the preservation of entire bodies of knowledge. This is due to the decreasing life-span of digital formats and platforms used to storing mankind’s memory. Large scientific institutions like NASA have had to encounter the challenges of digital revolution with diligence. Their efforts have been progressively focused on recovering data from complete obliteration from old file formats. This said, digital dark age is a factual threat if sustainable methods for safekeeping data are not addressed with urgency.
Philippe Braquenier's Palimpsest is an exhibition that crops up from this hastily developing technological landscape. It bears witness to the contemporary infrastructures of information repositories. In architecture, the word palimpsest is used to refer to the accumulation of de-sign elements in a particular place over time. Braquenier’s photographs incorporate architec-tural, technological and natural components with impressive clarity. The libraries, data cen-tres and both natural and built environments Braquenier approaches, hold a strong reference to the legacies of human knowledge.
The proximity of natural and technological milieus seems to propose a dependency in which one cannot exist without the other. Braquenier’s interest in the information depots expands from the question of their relationship to landscape and urban infrastructures, to what is re-quired to sustain the archives of human history. The aesthetic quality of Braquenier’s work is exquisite and well-measured. It points us to consider our forever sprouting interactions with technology.
Philippe Braquenier, born in 1985, is a Belgian artist working in conceptual and documentary photography. He received his BFA in photography from the Helb INRACI and has exhibited in Foto Museum Antwerpen, The Brussels Royal Museum of Fine Arts and Aperture Foundation in New York among other institutions and galleries. His work has recently been published in Wired, Aint-Bad, Médor and Accattone Magazine. Palimpsest will be published as a book later on during the year.
1| Sandra Blakeslee, Lost on Earth: Wealth of Data Found in Space, (20 March 1990), The New York Times, http://www.nytimes.com/1990/03/20/science/lost-on-earth-wealth-of-data-found-in-space.html