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On Interface. Questioning memories, matter and meaning through the haptic

On Interface. Questioning memories, matter and meaning through the haptic

PhD candidate Petrine Vinje's doctoral project.

Academic summary

The project investigates how human-technological relations shape materials and environments in history, art, and practices connecting to the imaginative and not-yet known. Through non-linear, artistic methodologies it raises questions about binary positions in archives and in systems of technology.


As a point of departure, the project examines three amulets from 300-1200 A.D in two European University Museum collections, contemplating their position as data-objects concerning human communication to what is outside of all logic principles: substances of the metaphysical. The amulets comprise semiotic, aesthetic and conceptual qualities, and encompass agency as apotropaic mediators from a paradigmatic time when humans moved from being oral to writing individuals. How do these archival objects relate to contemporary digital screen culture where technology, materials and semiotics are embedded in an endless flow of data? In the making of sculptural installations the archival objects and their environments are intended to operate as discursive tools. I will explore how the agency of the archive may serve as a generator in considerations of an immaterial-imaginative nature. Thus, the project embarks upon speculative thinking and making in regard to concepts of Data, the Archive, Space and Time, with an emphasis on apotropaic and communicative practices. The project questions the agency of material configurations in meaning-making. The feminist understanding of the material as “matter, energy and information” is relevant for this enquiry. It further explores how cultural memories may be positioned as samples of vibrant interplay between continuity and change, and not as representatives of binary positions.


The systems of technology represent the complexity of post-millennial data streams, adding to the palimpsest layers of the archive, for example as virtual representations. One strategy has been to investigate the amulets as interfaces, approachable through touch in rituals involving the haptic. When employing interface as a reflective tool I study the amulets as a connective tissue that operates between different aspects of reality. Thus, I might gain a broader understanding of material configurations, human cognition and consciousness in terms of the enactive structures in which they arise. These comprise the body as a biological system that is personally experienced in the physical world in which it enacts.


In the unfolding of this project, I allow for the exploration of possible ruptures or collapses in the layers and levels of reality. This has the potential of revealing imaginaries of intricate and infinite possibilities where the artwork exists as an obscure and enigmatic body of knowledge.


The project will culminate in a major thesis project consisting of both exhibited and written components, due Autumn 2022.

Project facts

Project title On Interface. Questioning memories, matter and meaning through the haptic
Project manager Petrine Vinje
Oslo National Academy of the Arts
Start date
End date
Project status Concluded
Department Art and Craft

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