warehouse warehouse

Repertoires Animés

by ARG - Alexander Schellow, Anton Henne, Jules Urban, Myriam Raccah, Nicolas Wouters, Olivia Molnar, Xavier Gorgol

ARG (animation research group) has been constituted in 2014 within the framework of the art school erg (école de recherche graphique) in Brussels after a workshop by Alexander Schellow in cooperation with the philosopher Catherine Perret. The international group comprises members of different practices and works in partnership with various institutions, mainly in Belgium and France (Brussels, MUNDANEUM Mons, A / R, UCL GIRCAM Louvain la Neuve, Khiasma Paris) to develop and implement methods and protocols around a concept of “expanded animation”, i.e. on a relecture of the reference field of “animation” primarily not as a predefined field of technical operations, but as a performative perception and image production mode. The basis for this is a collective research practice, which manifests itself in workshop formats as well as in the joint development of works and theoretical texts. For some time now, the group’s interest has increasingly focused on the construction of “documents” as a possible place for the concretization of specific practices. This interest makes it possible to experiment with tools and methods that dissolve framed inscriptions of knowledge from their status as “stored materials” by transforming them into a performative play between image and memory work. The scores of these “games” are tested, acted out, transcribed, collected and published open-source. 1 ARG members are Alexander Schellow, Anton Henne, Jules Urban, Myriam Raccah, Nicolas Wouters, Olivia Molnar and Xavier Gorgol.


  1. In the case of the project “Repertoires Animés” (besides publications, workshops and installations) this publication mainly takes place in the frame of a two-year online residence within the web platform Oralsite, a project of SARMA – Laboratory for discursive practices and expanded publication

  2. OTLET, Paul. Traité de documentation: le livre sur le livre: Théorie et pratique. Brussels, Mundaneum edition, 1934.

  3. See, a.o. HARTMANN, Frank (ed.): From Book to Database – Paul Otlet’s Utopia of Knowledge Visualization, Avinus Verlag, Hamburg 2012

  4. A reading that was actively promoted by Google itself in terms of content and concrete investment in the “heritage Otlets”.

  5. The temporal context of a scientific positivism and a Europe- and US-centered world view however has to be considered here. A view that for example excluded any primarily not (or less) written text-based cultures of knowledge

  6. In Jürgen E. Müller: Intermediality: A New Interdisciplinary Approach: Theoretical and Practical Perspectives as an Example of the Vision of Television, in Cinemas: review of cinematographic studies / Cinemas: Journal of Film Studies, vol. 10, No. 2-3, 2000, p. 109. [Provisional translation by the authors.]

  7. We refer here to a hypothesis of Bolter and Grusin that there is no new media, as a “new medium” is always going to reformulate or restructure preexisting media. GRUSIN, Richard and BOLTER, Jay David: Remediation: Understanding new media. Cambridge, MA, 2000. [Provisional translation by the authors.]

  8. MANCHEV, Boyan: Alteration. Über (den) Noise (des) Tanz(es), In: Helmut Ploebst, Nicole Haitzinger: Versehen. Tanz in allen Medien. Munich: epodium 2011. pp. 92-108

  9. For this point cf. : RICEUR, Paul. Temps et récit, vol. 3. Paris. Editions du Seuil, 1978. [Translated by the authors.]

  10. BESSON, Rémy. Man on bridge: une forme qui échappe aux catégories, “Entrelacs” (online) 12/2016, link last checked: 17 May 2016. URL: http://entrelacs.revues.org/1878. [Translation by the authors.]

  11. See for discussion about the terms archive and repertoire a.o. the confrontation between Diane Taylor (TAYLOR, Diane: THE ARCHIVE AND THE REPERTOIRE – Duke University Press, Durham / London, 2003) and Rebecca Schneider (SCHNEIDER, Rebecca: Performing Remains – Art and was in times of the theatrical reenactment, Routledge, London / New York 2011).

  12. PERRET, Catherine and SCHELLOW, Alexander: ELLE / SIE, in Les artistes font des histoires (Editor: Catherine Perret / Jean-Philippe Antoine), Le Genre Humain, éditions du Seuil Paris, 2015. [Provisional translation by the authors.]

«…une représentation du Monde et de ce qu’il contient, Miroir et Somme, un moyen de faire connaître les Peuples les uns aux autres et de les amener à collaborer »2

In recent years, Paul Otlet’s (1868-1944) visionary project of the Mundaneum, and his speculative designs of knowledge architectures “beyond a Gutenberg Galaxy,” 3 were reinscribed in a history of thought as a forerunner of the Internet, notably under the title of a “Google ante litteram “.4
We see a librarian who dreamed of an universal documentary (de)center dedicated to knowledge dissemination and social interconnection, whose ever-expanding and flexible network should be accessible beyond any intellectual, technological, economic or social elitism 5. – a network that always would be conceived in a “state” of emergence and transformation, bridging heterogeneous sources. In short : the relational structure should constitute a concrete mechanical and collective brain.
However, this vision seems to open and assert possibilities that seem much more far-reaching and promising than the simple prefiguration of a search engine and its virtual monopoly position within today’s internet.
The internet is constructed along hegemonic political, economic, and logistical decisions that shape (decisively) the day-to-day experiences we perform with and through it: access to specific and prioritized knowledge renders into hierarchies, economies, and value systems; personal data is acquired for various purposes and with different objectives; knowledge transfer is censored in all conceivable forms, for example in the pre-formatting of an information exchange through social media platforms; a fiction of a “functionalist neutrality” of search engines and links is suggested.

We want to record Otlet’s projections and revisit his past-future thinking. Our means are not primarily analytical-theoretical, instead we would like to approach the material speculatively via performative-artistic methods. An intermedial perspective – here quite in destinction to the concept of the transmedial – described by Rémy Besson 6 as “a process of meaning production linked to media interactions”, allows us, firstly, a synchronous view of constellations of heterogeneous sources and materials (their co-present within). Secondly, it allows us diachronic access, in the sense of inscribing different technological framings into a constellation of material over a course of time, against the backdrop of the attempt to reflect a medial transfer in relation to the transformation of technical means, in which reconfigurations and reactions of “past” forms always participate in every imaginable re-mediatization. 7

The concept of technology used here, in its derivation from the Greek techné = ‘art, skill, craft’ and logia = ‘word, teaching, studies’, addresses in its most fundamental meaning a collection of processes, tools, methods and skills that have been developed and systematized to allow the realization of a specific object. This object can be a thing or a non-material effect – such as the knowledge produced in a scientific experiment or in a philosophical reflection. As the philosopher Boyan Manchev put it, the Greek concept of techné, understood as the process of des-/organization, allows for a much more complex and challenging understanding of ‘technology’ than its colloquial meaning. 8

The intermedial strategies of a study of the mutual inscription of materials and technologies of their mediatization, which we performatively put into practice in the context of the research project “Repertoires Animés” on the Mundaneum, not least want to render and measure the space between Otlet’s speculative approach and contemporary forms of knowledge organization on the Internet.

This raises questions such as: Can we, in an extension of Otlet’s thinking (and in recognition of the fact that certain idealisms and positivisms of his position from today’s perspective appear neither tenable nor desirable) and through a critical and political use of the available tools, imagine new ways of receiving and sharing information – and more generally: materials – via the Internet? What would be platforms on which each user “intervenes” not only in the provision of content or the inner functional framework informed by the specific way of one’s own use, but could (co)shape each one’s own forms of access as well as production and transformation of knowledge? To what extent is this claim acted out by existing platforms such as Wikipedia or search engines like Google, and to what extent not? Or: what does “open source” mean in this specific sense? How could the connections of different subjects be thought of as fundamentally relational, evolutionary, organic, in question in every point at all times, transgressive and transformative (i.e. not in the sense of a static however changeable topography) – in the sense of Otlet’s “collective brain” ? Would such an utopia (?) imply relations between subjects that do not respond exclusively to a significant-significat logic, but that interweave and permanently reconfigure in different ways and in heterogeneous layers, in the sense of creating the catalyst and the basis a collective poetic machine of knowledge organization?

Our research practice along these questions allows us to further exemplify certain approaches to an exploration of “repertoires” (as elements of a formulation of materials).
A deductive examination of the subject matter of the research, top-down, taking its starting point from a processing or (re)definition of concepts of the “archive” itself is less of a priority for us. On the one hand, this is a methodical decision. On the other hand, we simply feel unable to do so, in the face of increasing complication (especially when it comes to questions of “archives” and power constellations) or softening of what is potentially conceived under “archive” and how the differently understood concepts could be categorized. 9 Once again Remy Besson: “[We find ourselves] in a contemporary context of fragmentation in media practices where the definition of the archive and the codification of the archival act are difficult to identify.”10 This is an essential reason why we prefer the reference fields around collection and repertoire 11 for the research process – they seem rather to correspond to a conception of the performative activation of documents in Otlet’s sense.


In avoiding the question of an aesthetic effect, as well as that of a (hi)story, animation focuses on the crisis of the representation of the world as a” world “through a strategy of abstention. It does not interpret – neither in relation to the relativity of the viewpoint nor in relation to the necessary multiplication of perspectives. By denying the privileges of interpretation, animation at the same time rejects the possible inference of a subjectification of this phenomenon of fragmentation. On the contrary, it exposes itself to objectification without first seeking a way out. The decomposition of the “world” does not mean its disappearance. Rather, it shows its incessant recomposition, here and now. It marks a strategy to emancipate oneself from rules of repetition, habit and pattern recognition – namely THROUGH THEM. » 12

The animation concept on which our research is based is primarily constituted by a field of practices and perceptual tools that unfold transversely to defined techniques, media or genres. An attempt is being made to approximate beyond a generic definition of animated film (for example, mimeticly “giving life” to inanimate objects, or work on image-by-image, the boundary between standstill and movement). To quote Catherine Perret: “While often (ab)using the filmic form, animation rejects the cinematographic grammar that the film makes “a” film. It is the hypothesis of a correlation in which the heterogeneity of the layers which constitute the filmic material can sediment and realize a story without consenting to narrative structure. ”

Questions that arise from this basic assumption are as follows: How can a movement triggered by images be (re) constructed without asserting a movement of the individual images? (How) is it possible to experience movement between pictures without moving pictures as such?
The such motivated research is structured along different axes of work: the deconstruction of the medium as structural fiction; the development of protocols of decentralization and discontinuity, in the production as well as the reception of a material; The organization of a break; the assertion of the “error” of a gesture as a method to realize a fictional space, for example in the context of the (re)construction of a memory structure; the insistence on a defined indefinition in the fundamental heterogeneity of the material, which is strategically opposed to a homogenization.

Many thanks to Myriam van Imschoot for making this contribution possible.