Database Narratives in Book and Online
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Database and narrative are often used to define two poles of a false binarism in which modular elements in a relational structure are opposed to the synthetic continuity of a prose text. But this paper suggests they are part of a single process in which explicit organization and synthesis are complementary. Using two case studies in my own experience, a personal database memoire project and a document-based biography of a Russian futurist book artist, Ilia Zdanevich, this paper suggests ways that establishing categories and structuring relations and dependencies in a database are part of the infrastructural underpinnings of narrative. The memoir project, ALL, is designed to make use of print and online affordances to create a book that is a compendium and guide to the online version of full-manuscripts of unpublished books and projects. Iliazd will be a fully online project with a PDF output. In both the biography and the memoire, an archaeological approach to the materials keeps the productive tension in place among configured documents, organizing structures, discursive form, media specificity, and narrative accounts that guide a reader through the archive.
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