Recycling Destroyed Cities: Ruined Archives in Copy Art

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Maryam Muliaee


This essay adopts a practice-based methodology to examine works that use copy machine as a tool of archiveology. Case studies are two of my animated films, collectively titled Recycled Series (2016-2017), and other examples of copy art, in which a series of (original and archival) images/films are degenerated with a black-and-white copy machine. I frame the degenerated images in these works as ruined images – anarchives that copy machines can produce for sensory experiences. I place these works in the context of archiveology (Russell 2018) to highlight two aspects in the ruined images: first, how the use of degeneration techniques in archiveology engenders urban imaginary; second, how archiveology as a mode of media art challenges the norms of authenticity and media specificity and unfolds the agency of recycling tools such as copiers. Using a copy machine to recycle film images, archiveology couples the practices of storytelling with the (re)discovery of the technologies of archives. 

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