Arche-scriptures, tangible records


Sitting on the edge of a pit similar to an archaeological dig – this is the setting for exploring Arche-scriptures, by the artist Alberto Harres. At first glance, the work appears to be a simple square ceramic fragment decorated with an engraving. However, the engraved information is decrypted by a special reader, and then echoes of voices resound in the headphones. They were extracted from the Pandemic Archive of Voices, a database of 185 voice recordings made by 24 speakers in 24 different languages during the recent pandemic period. In particular, the sound of the word ‘dalijna’, which means ‘distance’ in Croatian is played back in the headphones. The first question that arises is: distance from what? Perhaps this work is a way of giving solid form and taking distance and ‘burying’ what was experienced in this specific historical period? Or, on the contrary, is it a simulacrum to emphasise and never forget, a tangible symbol of a past world and its deep material testimony? Furthermore, is the message hidden in the engraving really as immutable as it seems to be in its physicality, although linked as it is to a sound archive that could change over time? The experience of this work draws from a chaotic relationship with our recent past and reflects on our digital traces from a speculative and dialectical perspective. Here, the intelligibility of an inscription is not resolved by discovering the customs and traditions of a past civilisation, it is not resolved with the sound testimony of archived data inscribed in stone. It triggers a profound short circuit: are the voices already rendered as archaeological relics as if they had disappeared in time? Or that their intrinsic immateriality is physically linked to a cryptic materiality and an equally enigmatic decryption device?