Thesis title: The sound of matter. How an engineering school invests the future of an audiovisual archive
Supervisors: David Pontille and Dominique Vinck (Université de Lausanne – STS Lab)
This issue is at the core of the digitization of cultural heritage movement: is it about the liberation of an essence from the constraints of matter (dematerialization) or a set of more or less radical transformations of content? The survey is based on an immersion in the engineering and research team of the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) which is in charge of the digitization, enhancement and safeguarding of the Montreux Jazz Festival’s audiovisual archives. Beyond the technical challenges, EPFL seizes this collection with the aim of converting it into a raw material for innovation and research. In appearance, the equation is simple: the conservation of this heritage will depend on its valorization in innovations that will ensure not only the influence of the school but also the circulation and vitality of digitized recordings.
Borrowing from STS and Information Infrastructure Studies, the ethnographic survey initially focuses on data processing and digital fact production. The second project inquiries into the construction of a sociotechnical development network. The dynamics of digitization is thus envisaged as a process associating new players with the existence of heritage and the preservation of digital data.