the- documents.org
the- documents.org tracked the entries you viewed during your visit. It documented your path through the website. As such, the time spent on the-documents.org turned into this – a new document.

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the-documents.org
is an online platform, collecting, describing, presenting and generating documents of all sorts. It documents documents.
Your path through the collection lead alongSea glass, F 6, Wheelhouse (replica), Dust, Backpack, The First Light of Day, Phase, Launching a Website, APOTD, Pipe, Dome, A Seismic Change, Quarry, A Seismic Change, The Birds, Crash (2)
07.05.2022

What constitutes a ‘document’ and how does it function?

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the etymological origin is the Latin ‘documentum’, meaning ‘lesson, proof, instance, specimen’. As a verb, it is ‘to prove or support (something) by documentary evidence’, and ‘to provide with documents’. The online version of the OED includes a draft addition, whereby a docu­ment (as a noun) is ‘a collection of data in digital form that is considered a single item and typically has a unique filename by which it can be stored, retrieved, or transmitted (as a file, a spreadsheet, or a graphic)’. The current use of the noun ‘docu­ment’ is defined as ‘something written, inscribed, etc., which furnishes evidence or information upon any subject, as a manuscript, title-deed, tomb-stone, coin, picture, etc.’ (emphasis added).

Both ‘something’ and that first ‘etc.’ leave ample room for discussion. A document doubts whether it functions as something unique, or as something reproducible. A passport is a document, but a flyer equally so. More­over, there is a circular reasoning: to document is ‘to provide with documents’. Defining (the func­tioning of) a document most likely involves ideas of communication, information, evidence, inscriptions, and implies notions of objectivity and neutrality – but the document is neither reducible to one of them, nor is it equal to their sum. It is hard to pinpoint it, as it dis­perses into and is affected by other fields: it is intrinsically tied to the history of me­dia and to important currents in literature, photo­­graphy and art; it is linked to epistemic and power structures. However ubiquitous it is, as an often tangible thing in our environment, and as a concept, a document deranges.

the-documents.org continuously gathers documents and provides them with a short textual description, explanation,
or digression, written by multiple authors. In Paper Knowledge, Lisa Gitelman paraphrases ‘documentalist’ Suzanne Briet, stating that ‘an ante­lope running wild would not be a document, but an antelope taken into a zoo would be one, presumably because it would then be framed – or reframed – as an example, specimen, or instance’. The gathered files are all documents – if they weren’t before publication, they now are. That is what the-documents.org, irre­versibly, does. It is a zoo turning an antelope into an ‘antelope’.

As you made your way through the collection,
the-documents.org tracked the entries you viewed.
It documented your path through the website.
As such, the time spent on the-documents.org turned
into this – a new document.

This document was compiled by ____ on 07.05.2022 23:52, printed on ____ and contains 16 documents on _ pages.
(https://the-documents.org/log/07-05-2022-4001/)

the-documents.org is a project created and edited by De Cleene De Cleene; design & development by atelier Haegeman Temmerman.

the-documents.org has been online since 23.05.2021.

  • De Cleene De Cleene is Michiel De Cleene and Arnout De Cleene. Together they form a research group that focusses on novel ways of approaching the everyday, by artistic means and from a cultural and critical perspective.
    www.decleenedecleene.be / info@decleenedecleene.be
  • This project was made possible with the support of the Flemish Government and KASK & Conservatorium, the school of arts of HOGENT and Howest. It is part of the research project Documenting Objects, financed by the HOGENT Arts Research Fund.
  • Briet, S. Qu’est-ce que la documentation? Paris: Edit, 1951. 
  • Gitelman, L. Paper Knowledge. Toward a Media History of Documents.
    Durham/ London: Duke University Press, 2014.
  • Oxford English Dictionary Online. Accessed on 13.05.2021.

the-documents.org

At the beach of Cap d’Antifer in Normandy one can find ‘sea glass’ between the pebbles: pieces of broken glass that have naturally weathered by being tumbled by the ocean, over and over. Sharp edges and smooth surfaces vanish. The historical origin of the glass pebbles (glass bottles, a shipwreck) erodes. Only the colour of the pebbles gives an indication of their history, be it vaguely. Varieties of green sea glass are common, but other colours, such as red (Shlitz beer bottles) or yellow (interbellum Vaseline containers), are more rare and have to be sought after attentively.

It’s 4.15 PM. The tide is pushing three people towards the cliffs.

the-documents.org
Sea glass
23:49:54
the-documents.org

In his Handboek Varende Scheepsmodellen (Handbook Sailing Ship Models) André Veenstra explains the different classes in ship model-competitions. There’s a wide variety. For static ship models the most important one is ‘truth-to-nature’. A jury compares the model to photographs of the actual ship and brings into account categories such as amount of work, degree of difficulty, scale ratio, construction execution and painting.

The most interesting class – according to Veenstra – is F 6. In this particular class, a number of participants with different boats will form a team. Together, they will perform a certain ‘act’ with a maximum duration of ten minutes. During the act, they mimic a slice of reality. Such as, for example, ‘rescuing’ and towing a ship in distress; extinguishing a fire on a tanker or oil rig, lichen and/or tow the sunken wreckage to the harbor, stage a naval battle, etc.

Page 262 shows a photograph of such a mimicked slice of reality. The caption explains: ‘Image 14.15. The Dutch demonstration in the F 6 class during the European Championship of 1975: the oil rig is set on fire by a motorboat with terrorists. The fire is extinguished and the oil rig is quickly towed to a safe harbor by tugs. The show was performed by six people and took a very creditable fourth place.’

the-documents.org
F 6
23:50:02
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The GPS-plotter displays the ship near Keyhaven Lake, indefinitely. The sea appears calm, the horizon is level from one perspective.

the-documents.org
Wheelhouse (replica)
23:50:22
the-documents.org

Ten years ago, in November, I drove up to Frisia – the northernmost province of The Netherlands. I was there to document the remains of air watchtowers: a network of 276 towers that were built in the fifties and sixties to warn the troops and population of possible aerial danger coming from the Soviet Union. It was very windy. The camera shook heavily. The poplars surrounding the concrete tower leaned heavily to one side.

I drove up to the seaside, a few kilometers farther. The wind was still strong when I reached the grassy dike that overlooked the kite-filled beach. I exposed the last piece of film left on the roll. Strong gusts of wind blew landwards.

Months later I didn’t bother to blow off the dust that had settled on the film before scanning it. A photograph without use, with low resolution, made for the sake of the archive’s completeness. 

The dust on the film appears to be carried landwards, by the same gust of wind lifting the kites.

the-documents.org
Dust
23:50:27
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_44A6588.dng
At 13:26:43 I took a photograph of a concrete building without windows in an industrial zone just south of Brussels.

_44A6590.dng
At 16:46:15 I photographed a succession of office buildings in the same industrial zone. 

_44A6589.dng 
I must have walked about 1 kilometer between the concrete building without windows and the section of the industrial zone with the offices. At 13:43:49, the camera, safely stored in my backpack, recorded 0.4 seconds of the 20 minutes it took me to get there. 

In The Snows of Venice, Alexander Kluge wonders whether he can take the liberty to conjure up what the sky looked like on 31 December 1799, as Schiller made his way to Goethe’s house. He goes on by saying that, historically, there’s a ‘LACK OF SENSORY ATTENTION AT CRUCIAL MOMENTS’.1 There are exceptions, though, like the cameraman that was sent out to document the fireworks on New Year’s Day 2000. The camera was turned on prematurely. The batteries were used up by midnight, but ‘certain gray tones, however, filtered through the cracks of its protective case, conveyed the motion of the walking cameraman, the transportation. The incompletely shut, low-information container was documented exactly […] To this day it provides inexact testimony as to the qualities of the leather of a twenty-first century carrying case and the precise sensitivity to light and dark demonstrated by a twenty-first century recording medium.’2

1

Lerner, B., Kluge, A. The Snows of Venice. Leipzig: Spector Books, 2018, p. 53

2

Ibid.

the-documents.org
Backpack
23:50:38
the-documents.org

A year ago, mid-August, just before sunrise, the mostly unlit office buildings line the road that leads to the underground parking. I turn off the ignition. I’m in F36. The walls are painted pink. Looking for the exit, I take the escalator and get stuck in an empty shopping mall. The music is playing but all the shops are closed off with steel shutters. So are the exits. I’m out of place. In keeping early customers out, the mall is keeping haphazard visitors in. I’m back in the parking lot. The elevator is broken. I take the stairs and walk by a homeless man, sleeping. There’s shit on the floor. I open the door that leads out of the stairwell. It slams shut behind me. There’s no doorknob. I find myself on a dark floor between mall and parking lot. People are sleeping; some are awake. Heads turn toward me. I start walking slightly uphill towards where I think I might find an exit, or an entrance. The scale of the architecture has shifted from car (F36) and customer (the closed mall) to truck. I find myself amidst the supply-chain. It takes five minutes, maybe fifteen, maybe more to get out and see the office buildings towering over me in the first light of day.

the-documents.org
The first light of day
23:50:51
the-documents.org

At the Tunis Institut National du Patrimoine, the sand-covered floor has traced Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker’s movements to Steve Reich’s Violin Phase. The venue empties out. It is dark and the way back to the hotel through the medina is labyrinthian and eerie. It has been a couple days since we arrived, and I have managed to make a mental image of the inner city by memorizing some waymarks – intersections, buildings, shops – coupled to a direction. Sometimes, a newly entered street would give out to such a waymark – a peculiar sensation: a flash of spatial insight, like a crumpled ball of paper unfolding. The narrow streets turn and turn. Some passages are closed at night. I must improvise a route, but the basic mental structure to do so is missing. Shopkeepers have moved their goods inside. 

I have no sense of orientation. I can’t estimate distances nor can I tell north from south. Everything is scaleless. My highly simplified scheme of the city’s layout gets us to our destination. The functional interpretation of Tunis differs completely from the actual Tunis. It is a different city we crossed, and made while crossing.

the-documents.org
Phase
23:51:01
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As the hours passed, and while clouds continuously kept us from seeing stars and planets, we started to photograph the set-up used to launch this website. To highlight the umbrella that protected the gear from the unpredictable bursts of rain, we used a flashlight: during the thirty second long exposure, it was lit for two seconds. This proved to be enough to give the whole the feel of an untampered, realistic view. Meanwhile, the website was in all likelihood streaming a grey haze, as the telescope was pointed to the fleeting clouds and gradually spinning along with the earth’s movement to keep track of the same invisible celestial bodies. As we returned to the base, planet Jupiter had become visible to the naked eye.

In another exposure of the same length, we left the flashlight on for approximately eight seconds and pointed the beam a bit lower.

the-documents.org
Launching a Website
23:51:10
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(transcript CNN Saturday morning news, Aired September 21, 2002 – 07:32 ET)

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

MILES O’BRIEN, CNN AnchorNow this Astronomy Picture of the Day goes back as far as the populari­zation of the Internet. The discovery of what is now Netscape, if you will. Let’s take a look at the guys behind it. It’s an art gallery of astronomy, featuring explosive super­novas, deep black holes, flaring comets, and breath­taking earth views. 

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

O’BRIEN(voice-over) Every day since the web was in its infancy, two enthusiastic astronomers have posted a new image to Astronomy Picture of the Day.

ROBERT J. NEMIROFF, NASA Astrophysicist
I think that a lot of these would look great in a gallery. They’re very different, there’s a lot of different colors involved, there’s a lot of different contrasts, a lot of different textures. And, it has the added bonus of being scienti­fically interesting. It’s scientifically true.

O’BRIENRobert Nimiroff and Jerry Donnell (ph) choose the images based on their educational value, newsworthiness, or just plain beauty.

NEMIROFF
I mean, there’s a ‘wow’ factor here. I usually know within a second or two of seeing a picture whether it’s a sure thing for The Astronomy Picture of the Day, because I just say ‘Wow, what is going on there?’

O’BRIENEvery image is archived on the site. Underneath each picture is a brief explanation so that the site is not just eye candy but educational, as well. Including images that give us a new perspective.  

NEMIROFF
Recently, people put together a bunch of pictures from the moon in this great panorama. You can look all the way around in the circle and see what the astronauts saw. The face on Mars, which the best expla­nation is, it’s just a rock formation, but there’s a lot of conspiracy people out there who think it’s more, and the picture of the earth at night. And, I think it’s one of our most popular images.

O’BRIENSome images come from telescopes around the world. Others from the Hubble Telescope, peering deep into space. Others, from amateur photo­graphers, an artist’s renditions of black holes too distant for detail.

NEMIROFF
And you can just look at it and feel that you’re there.

O’BRIENMany people take the images from the site and post them as wallpaper on their computers, or, create a slideshow screensaver.

NEMIROFF 
Our biggest demographic is the intelligent professional who works at some company and has a computer on the desk, has a web browser, and they check us out. We’ve got e-mail that we’re many people’s morning cup of coffee.

O’BRIENWhether you’re a space junkie or just enjoy looking up at the sky, Astronomy Picture of the Day is worth the visit.

https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap950616.html (original post: June 16, 1995)

http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0209/21/smn.06.html

the-documents.org
APOTD
23:51:25
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The 48-inch Oschin Schmidt, a renowned reflecting telescope at Palomar Observatory, California, was used for the Palomar Observatory Sky Survey (POSS), published in 1958, one of the largest photographic surveys of the night sky. 

Based on the man’s pipe shadow’s direction, thrown onto the telescope, there is reason to believe an off-camera flash was used to make the picture.

the-documents.org
Pipe
23:51:36
the-documents.org

A visit to the Royal Observatory of Belgium, in Ukkel. Most of the domes are damaged and need repairing. Only a few telescopes are in use. It is difficult to find a good spot from which to film the site. When we asked the people at the Royal Meteorological Institute – the Observatory’s neighbouring institution – if we could access their building’s roof to film the observatory, the answer was ‘no’.

I (M.D.C.) remember there was a fire nearby. We couldn’t see the flames, but a tall dark plume of smoke rose above the trees lining the site. We didn’t insist any longer and ceased our attempt to access the roof, hoping we might find a good spot to film the smoke with a dome in the foreground.

Kesteloot, J. Leerboek van Cosmografie voor Middelbaar en Lager Normaal Onderwijs (derde vermeerderde uitgave). Brugge: Firma Karel Beyaert, 1948.

the-documents.org
Dome
23:51:42
the-documents.org

The road down from the top of Mount Vesuvius, at Atrio Del Cavaillo. The sun sets. The last tourist bus has headed down. Then the headlights of the guardian’s car swing their way down. It must be freezing. I am holding an orange-sized piece of petrified lava, probably stemming from the 1872 or 1944 eruption. A kilometer further down the road, the old Observatory is empty. Nowadays, moni­toring seismic changes is done in a research centre in the city of Naples. Their seismo­graphic regis­trations can be followed online, in real time. Two head­lights swirling along the slopes, underneath me, are coming upwards.

the-documents.org
A Seismic Change
23:51:48
the-documents.org

On May 6th 2020, 14h06 and 31 seconds, the Belgian Seismological Institute records an earthquake with a 1,7 magnitude in the region of Braine-Le-Compte. Three reactions from people in the neighbourhood, filed by the Institute, confirm the official seismological recordings. The Institute’s website classifies the earthquake as a ‘quarry blast’.

http://seismologie.be/nl/seismologie/aardbevingen-in-belgie/en130qj1o

the-documents.org
Quarry
23:51:56
the-documents.org

The road down from the top of Mount Vesuvius, at Atrio Del Cavaillo. The sun sets. The last tourist bus has headed down. Then the headlights of the guardian’s car swing their way down. It must be freezing. I am holding an orange-sized piece of petrified lava, probably stemming from the 1872 or 1944 eruption. A kilometer further down the road, the old Observatory is empty. Nowadays, moni­toring seismic changes is done in a research centre in the city of Naples. Their seismo­graphic regis­trations can be followed online, in real time. Two head­lights swirling along the slopes, underneath me, are coming upwards.

the-documents.org
A Seismic Change
23:52:02
the-documents.org

This is the spread one sees upon opening the bird field guide that once stood, as the stamp indicates, in the library of a psychiatric institution.1 It shows birds’ silhouettes, as they can be seen beside the road.

The drawing has a kind of Hitchcock feel to it.2 The birds seem to be spying on each other, as they also seem to be spying on the unsuspecting passer-by. 

The composition of the scene is marvelous. The electric wires, the tree, the wire fence, the double framed list with the birds’ names, handsomely positioned in a birdless patch, at once superimposed on the telephone wires, and pushed to the background by the skylark.

Imagine seeing this scene. What are the odds: to see the silhouettes of Europe’s twenty most common species of birds in one glance, from your car’s window, as you are driving home at dusk.

Before closing the book, the last spread seems to show the birds fleeing, maybe attacking.3

1

The stamp indicates that, at the psychiatric institution, the book was part of the sublibrary for the Catholic Brothers of Charity. The crossed-out part indicates that there was also a separate physicians’ library, to which the book might have originally belonged.

2

On the web, discussions on whether Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds (1963) was shot in colour or in black and white, abound. 

3

Peterson, R.T., Mountfort, G. & P.A.D. Hollom. Vogelgids voor alle in ons land en overig Europa voorkomende vogelsoorten (J. Kist, transl.). 3d ed. Amsterdam/Brussels: Elsevier, 1955. 

the-documents.org
The Birds
23:52:09
the-documents.org

Near Avenue 61 on an artificial island close to Seef, a truck is being towed after the driver lost control over the vehicle and flipped it onto its side. A warm wind blows in from the Persian Gulf.

A police officer signals us to come closer. ‘Why are you taking pictures?’ he asks. ‘This is just an accident. You have to delete the pictures from your phone. Now.’ After checking the pictures-folder on our phones, he gets in his car, drives a few metres, stops the car and rolls down his window. ‘And don’t do it again!’ he yells. Then he drives off, raising a cloud of sand in his wake.

Photograph taken and recovered from my trash bin on 18.12.2020.

the-documents.org
Crash (2)
23:52:15