Michel Murtaugh and Active Archives

“An Active Archive is not a black box with a Download button, it is information reconfigured.“

Active Archives is an initiative founded by Constant (Brussels), in collaboration with Arteleku in 2006. It currently holds ongoing collaborations with Constant and e.r.g (Ecole de Recherche Graphique Brussels).

Active Archives are concerned with decentralizing the archive, with the importance of ownership of the infrastructure, the nessecity to include other media than text, promoting re-use of content, and rethinking taxonomies and classifcation of content.

Michael Murtaugh is a technologist based in Brussel. He is a member of Constant, association for arts and media, and a lecturer at Piet Zwart Institute, Institute for Experimental Publishing at Willem de Kooning Academy in Rotterdam.


Active Archive aims at creating a free software platform to connect practices of library, media library, publications on paper was magazines, books, catalogues), productions of audio-visual objects, events, workshops, discursive productions, etc. Practices which can take place on line or in various geographical places, and which can be at various stages of visibility for reasons of rights of access or for reasons of research and privacy conditions.

The Active Archives project starts from the observation that most of the interesting cultural archives that have been developed over the last few years have taken advantage of those new facilities for instant publishing, but mostly in the form of websites that mirror regular information brochures, announcements and text- publishing. Often, they are conceived as “We” give information to “You”. Within Active Archives, we aim to set up multi-directional communication channels, and are interested in making information circulate back and forth. We would like to give material away and receive it transformed: enriched by different connections, contexts and contradictions.



“Archiving the Data-body: human and nonhuman agency in the documents of Kurenniemi”, with Teoff Cox, and Nicolas Malevé, in Writing and Unwriting (Media) Art History, edited by Joasia Krysa and Jussi Parikka, MIT Press, 2015
Draft online: https://activearchives.org/wiki/Archiving_the_Data- body:_human_and_nonhuman_agency_in_the_documents_of_Kurenniemi

Webseite of Michael Murtaugh: https://automatist.org/


Ecosystems of Writing. Interview with Michael Murtaugh
Conducted by Shusha Niederberger, 15 September 2018

Expanding Cinema, Interview with Sebatian Lütgert & Jan Gerber

Sebastian Lütgert & Jan Gerber are two artists and programmers who developed the movie database 0xdb and its underlying software pan.do/ra. The more than 15,000 films in the database are objects that cover films hard to find online. 0xbd is not just a database for films but treats film as a veritable digital object, which allows new ways of dealing with films.

The project offers a number of special features such as the visualization of the timeline, time-based annotations, additional information and interlinking with other objects and information, and allows for in-depth search. The project stands in the tradition of autonomous archives and other critical media practices and has collaborated with artists and political activists worldwide. The software, as well as the movies, are available for free.

Interview conducted by Cornelia Sollfrank, October 22, 2017, HeK (House of Electronic Arts Basel).

Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License. For any other use please contact us.


0xDB is an experimental – and to some degree imaginary – movie database. It is intended to help us rethink the future of cinema on the Internet, just as it tries to push the boundaries of what we understand as “web applications”. What 0xDB proposes is an entirely new approach to visualizing and navigating moving images, and we hope that it can serve as a point of reference for individuals and institutions who are dealing with large collections of films.

0xDB uses a variety of publicly accessible resources, like search engines and peer-to-peer networks, to automatically collect information about, and actual images and sound from, a steadily growing number of movies. At its core, it provides full text search within subtitled films and instant video previews of search results, while “timelines” – visual fingerprints of moving images – allow for spatial orientation and travel.”



Expanding Cinema, Interview with Sebatian Lütgert & Jan Gerber
Conducted by Cornelia Sollfrank, 22 October 2017