Michael Murtaugh is a technologist specialized in community databases, digital archives, and tools for new forms of reading and writing online. He is a member of Constant, where he is also part of the active archive research project, investigating and developing digital archiving platforms for cultural institutions.
In this interview, Michael discusses how infrastructures shape practices, and how recognizing these performative aspects of infrastructure can be used to question relationships to and through infrastructure. He introduces Etherbox, a RaspberryPi operated network box enabling local communities to collectively write, but is set up as a visible tool to engage with imaginations of software, infrastructure, and services. The Etherbox thus takes the concept of active archives a step further. Whereas active archives try to formulate ideas how archives can live on and serve communities in more productive ways than a frozen account of a historical event, Etherbox expands the concern about the performativity of infrastructure into a tool, which addresses both the symbolical level (of speculative infrastructure) as well the functional level (of collective writing spaces). That intertwinedness of the aesthetical and the functional is expanding the territory of infrastructure into an ecosystem of writing.
Interview conducted by Shusha Niederberger, September 15, 2018, HeK (House of Electronic Arts Basel).