Arakelian, 02/03/2014


Daniel, Sharon. "The Database: An Aesthetics of Dignity." Data Base Aesthetics (n.d.): 1-40. Web.


“Together, ethics and aesthetics challenge the function, nature, ontology, and purpose of art. Historically, aesthetics has played a central role in the development of the ethics of the individual subject and, while the problem of “the nature of beauty” has been rendered irrelevant to some degree in postmodernist criticism, aesthetics may still be used as a tool to examine the relation between art and life. In aesthetics (and ethics), the question of beauty is linked to the question of subjectivity. Two approaches to the problem of beauty (or of morality) dominate: the objective, which asserts that beauty (or ethos) inheres in the object (or absolute) and that judgments concerning it may have objective validity, and the subjective, where the beautiful (or just) is identified or determined by the observer.”


socio-ideological experience, data, datum, materiality of informatics, Michel Focault, patterns, aesthetics, ethics

Key Cites

Katherine N. Hayles, “The Materiality of Informatics,” in Configurations. A Journal of
Literature, Science, and Technology, ed. Wilda C. Anderson, James J. Bono, and Kenneth J. Knoespel (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press and the Society for Literature and Science, 1993), 149

Foucault, M. "Authorship: What Is an Author?" Screen 20.1 (1979): 13-34. Print.

Crucial Quotes

"the material, technological, economic, and social structures that make the information
age possible." Hayles's “Informatics” includes "the late capitalist mode of flexible accumulation; the hardware and software that have merged telecommunications with computer technology; and the patterns of living that emerge from and depend upon instant transmission of information and access to large data bank” (Hayles qtd. in Daniel 1)

“Data on its own has no meaning; data must be interpreted in order to take on meaning and become
information. Data is a mark or trace that represents a portion of the real world; it is a representation that can be processed and transcribed into a readable language on a sustainable medium—a completed questionnaire, a taped interview, the recorded results of an experiment (1)”

“The author function unifies a “text” or a body of work so that the relation between a group of texts is fixed. The storyteller draws on and contributes to an evolving database—searching, selecting, elaborating, contributing. There is no fixed relation, no unity, no single author—only stories that continuously unfold to reveal increasingly complex topologies” (3).

“A database is a picture, an image of a system of meaning organized from a social perspective. While each
of the preceding “found” database examples emerged from a particular civic or religious institution’s perspective, the collection of Anne and Jacques Kerchache illuminates larger, more encompassing perspectives—those of the Enlightenment and scientific rationality” (12).

“A database can represent the operative or dominant cultural perspective of given society—mapping and
visualizing its rule table and recording the patterns that result” (14).

Questions Raised by the Text

If a database represents the dominant cultural perspective then how can we search for traces of the marginal perspective within the database in question? Is it even possible?