Museums topologically, and thematically represents the dichotomy between material and symbolical objects and records of cultural transmission: physical entropy versus symbolical (ahistorical) invariance. Museums, libraries and archives - all three memory agencies which act in the Vatican context of Mengs' allegory - are agencies of cultural transmission across time. The dramatic setting of Mengs' allegory is about conflicting tempor(e)alities which are at work with cultural tradition: Chronos (physical, material entropy) versus Clio (symbolic coding). In this allegory, storage and transfer media are not just rhetorical metaphors for cultural tradition. In fact, technologies of tradition are literally metaphorical (Röttgen, 1980, p. 121). Mengs' Allegory of History features a genius who is transferring papyrus rolls to the personification of history (Clio), in fact performing the archival act: which is the rescuing of physically endangered records from the past by transcription into symbolic historiography. The material record from the past (subject to entropy) is thus translated into (negentropic) information. Such an act of transformation is well known from the current massive digitisation of, f. e., early sound recordings in the phonogram archives of Vienna and Berlin - a chrono-economical exchange between the real and the symbolic, between aging and permanence. Mengs' Allegory demonstrates the authority claim of the Roman church which is based on long-time tradition (monumentum). The status of the museum objects depicted on the painting is both material and semiophoric, depending on their internal or external relation to the subject - the allegory of the Museum Clementinum. Two regimes conflict here: registering and description, versus historiographical narrative. On the borderline between history and archaeology, it is not clear what Clio performs in the museum: does she write or register? Her attention is diverted by double-faced Janus who points at the realm of the aesthetic (represented by the Cleopatra/Ariadne in the museum), whereas in fact what is brought to her is data. Instead of historiography, her book might be an inventory. The allegorical figure of Chronos embodies the physical reality of time which is entropic decay. Asymmetrically, historiography is embodied by the female allegory of Clio who records chronological events in the rather time-invariant symbols of writing. But the chronological order (counting historical time) is a historicist distortion of temporality itself: "Use of centuries - fingers and toes - distortion of history", Harold A. Innis 1947/48 wrote in his Idea File. Subject of the Stanza dei Papriri - both in its archaeological content and its painted allegory - are the cultural technologies of transmission in time in their various forms. When Mengs painted an ancient inscription in this scene, it had just been interpreted as the donation mark of the family tomb of T. Claudius Primigenius <comp. "Genius", der die Papyrusrollen herantragt, und der in der Philadelphia- Version auf die Inschrift schaut!> who had been archivist of the imperial domains in ancient Rome. Thus, the epigraph doubly offered itself (by its donator and by its function) as a welcome supplement to the overall theme of the fresco: The archivist as gatekeeper of historical memory here cares for his own remembrance. In a wolfgang ernst technologies of tradition: between symbolic and material (micro-)transmission previous design for that fresco (preserved in the Philadelphia Museum of Fine Arts) Mengs lets Saturn (Chronos) look directly at the inscription which in its materiality reveals apparent traces of decay and age (Röttgen, 1980, fig 10). Represented here is a literally archaeological moment, the excavation of an ancient inscription - not simply as an allegory of vanity <comp. Winckelmann's critique of baroque Ruinenmelancholie>, but as a symbol of rescuing the heritage of pagan culture by means of the storage place museum. There is another eighteenth century allegory of the mechanisms of transmission, the frontispiece of Lafitau's publication Moeurs des sauvages Ameriquains (1724). This image confronts archaeologically silent, but enduring material artefacts with the discursive, but transient articulations of historiography. The viewer is confronted with the encounter of writing and time in a collection space littered with material traces coming from both Classical Antiquity and the New World: "One holds the pen, the other the scythe, which approach each other without ever touching, asymptotically. History deals with relics which can be seen, and seeks to supply explanations; ancient things which have become mute through the degradation owing to time may to some extent become clearer if we invoke customs observed among contemporary savages. This operation needs a technique, which is that of comparison and an author, an historian." (Lavers, 1985, p. 330f) Archaeology deals with gaps and therefore faces traumatic absences; historical discourse is made to fill this up to generate some kind of symbolic order on the material ruins of tradition. Michel de Certeau enhanced his interpretation by drawing the configuration of Chronos and Clio abstracted to a diagram where the supposed prologued lines of the curved scythe and the linear pen become vectors. Directly deciphered in terms of mathematics, the pen-line (as x-axis, the abscise) becomes the asymptote of the scythe as hyperbole (on the y-axis). There is no point where the function touches or traverses the x axis itself: no convergence between material ("historic") and symbolic ("historiographical") phenomena of time. In Lafitau's front cover illustration, the allegorical figure of Chronos is endowed with a weapon (the scythe) indicating devastation with time - in fact "noise" which happens in the temporal channel of transmission (to rephrase it in terms known from transmission engineering); such material loss of information is compensated by the female allegory of Clio "writing" history: copying of symbolic letters is an almost lossless technology of tradition. A different loss though takes place at the moment when real matter or energy is symbolically filtered, that is: compressed. Tradition here means the separation of signal from noise by means of symbolic transcription. When a message has been received which has somehow become scrambled with another, unwanted message (usually called noise), the challenge lies in "unscrambling these and restoring the original message with as little alteration as possible, except perhaps for a lag in time" (Wiener, 1948/50, p. 205, italics W.E.) - archives in liquid times 150 151

Periodiekviewer Koninklijke Vereniging van Archivarissen

Jaarboeken Stichting Archiefpublicaties | 2017 | | pagina 77