the- documents.org
the- documents.org is an online platform, collecting, describing, presenting and generating documents of all sorts. It documents documents.

A document can function as something unique, or as something reproducible. A passport is a document, but a leaflet is equally so. Documents abound and vary: a photograph left as a bookmark in a second-hand book, a screenshot in the trash bin, a worn-out note on the pavement testifying to a school assignment and yesterday’s rain. But also a car recording the impact of a crash, a disappointing first photograph, a profanity carved in warm roofing, a slice of a mammoth tree representing historical events, a fragment of charred wood from a utility pole, a list of to-do’s written on the back of a hand. Defining a document involves ideas of communication, information, evidence, inscription, and implies notions of objectivity and neutrality – but the document is neither reducible to one of them, nor is it equal to their sum. Moreover, documents can lie; they can be ephemeral and subject to change. It is hard to pinpoint the document, 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. Despite its ubiquity, and however unwavering and stable it is considered to be, a document confuses.

the-documents.org aims to question what a document is and how it functions. It gathers documents and provides them with a caption – a short textual description, explanation, or digression. But as it collects documents, it also creates documents. 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 files gathered on the-documents.org 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’. 

Navigating the website can be done in different ways. There are links in the textual descriptions leading to other documents; there is a collection of all files published; at the right, the sidebar allows users to filter and arrange files based on themes, authors, types, etc. You can hit ‘random’. As the visitor makes his/her/their way through the collection, the-documents.org tracks the entries that have been viewed. It documents the path through the website. Your path can be saved digitally, printed at home, or ordered as a book. As such, the time spent on the-documents.org turns into a new document.

Contact: info [@] the-documents.org

The-documents.org is a project by De Cleene De Cleene; design & development by atelier Haegeman Temmerman.

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Arnout De Cleene & Michiel De Cleene combine a background in literature and photography with an interest in the document and the documentary. Topics vary. The poetics of blockchain. Mount Vesuvius’ 1872 eruption. Coppicing near a highway parking lot. An architect’s photographic archive. Etc. Research leads to artist books, as well as essays, lectures and exhibitions. They conduct research at KASK & Conservatory, School of Arts, Gent.
www.decleenedecleene.be
contact: info [@] decleenedecleene.be

This project was made possible with the support of the Flemish Government and KASK, the School of Arts of HOGENT and Howest.

 

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.

14.07.2024 Your path through the collection lead along  Neptune in opposition [10/20] – Kinship.

Theory becomes the apparatus. A metonymic relation. A trope of nearness. Miniscule gravitational disturbances become known as a kilometres-long, L-shaped facility. Particle physics: a circular tunnel beneath the Geneva hinterland

Somewhere in the early 1970s, our grandfather, a carpenter by trade, buys a telescope1,2, installs it on the lawn, and points it over the hedge. ‘I remember seeing the craters on the moon. The rings of Saturn,’ he told us. 

In the shabby plywood box I made to transport the telescope lies a metal ring I ground flat to be able to attach my camera and focus it on infinity.

The hedge, now three metres in height, shields the lower part of the sky from sight and needs pruning.

1

Tasco / Reg. No. 83140 / 140 Power / Reflection telescope / D=3” / F=700mm / Coated optics / Model No. 3TE-R / Japan

2

‘It never fails to draw you in closer – the moment when you raise a pair of binoculars to your eyes. In that instant, life is magnified clearly; as if just for you. The curious bird that becomes instantly identifiable. The night sky that never looked the same after that night. The actual sweat running down the brow of a sports hero. The sun scattering light across a clear stream as you trace for signs of a Rainbow trout. These are the moments of magic that Tasco delivers. Simple, pure and honest. And for another split-second, you’re struck by the quality of experience weighed against the value you’d previously placed on “just a pair of binoculars.” Welcome to a world where, “Seeing is Believing.”’ (Tasco Manifesto). 

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