The Hyper-Stacks and the Post-Enlightenment
Stacks of archive files in their glass cabinets remind of server stacks in the splendour of the V&A’s gallery.
How come Bridle references post-enlightenment when in early 21. Century we carry the technology with us that enables us to continue where enlightenment left off in the 18th century?
Bridle’s Five Eyes in the museum’s magnificent tapestry galleries
Here’s a thing: the visible and the invisible are products of the same belief system, and that is that all things are ultimately knowable. Wikileaks and the NSA believe the same thing: that if we can just bring all the secrets of the world to light, everything will be made good and right with the world.
The museum and the software programme have the same essential ontology, that ordering things and structuring them in the right way will produce a representation so perfect we can build a whole culture atop it. But much is not knowable, and while the internet is perhaps here to reveal to us the vastness of what we do not and cannot know, the social and political philosophy with which it is mostly closely associated asserts not merely that everything is knowable, but that all things are knowable at once, and structures the world around this assumption, whether through surveillance, big data, the veneration of the market or the supremacy of the nation state. The curse of omniscience, once attributed to God, is now more tragically invested in the machine.