Daniel R. Quiles [...A]ll technology is, at certain stages, evidence of a collective dream.1 “ The Consistency Device,” reads advertising copy from 1941, “ permits scoring of examinations designed to measure the consistency of an individual’s attitudes and opinions.”2 Designed to grade behavioral exams but applicable to all two-part questions, the Consistency Device is an optional accessory for the IBM Test Scoring Machine Type 805, a predecessor of contemporary scanning technology that was one of the earliest devices for the scoring of standardized tests in the United States. The 805 was designed to detect and puncture the electrically conductive mark made by certain types of lead pencils, hence the “bubble sheet” on which to record answers. The Consistency Device’s mensuration of “an individual’s attitudes and opinions” analogizes the larger aim of the Test Scoring Machine and standardized testing in general: to quantify the test-taker by rendering objective the subjective experience of the exam. The 805 folds “analog” operations—the thought, sensation, and physical contact inhering the answering of questions—into a “digital” one— the tallying of multiple-choice questions into a score. In Prep Materials, Carla Herrera-Prats displays photographs and documents related to the development of grading technology on walls throughout the Art in General gallery.3 The artist found these materials in the archives of the International Business Machines Corporation [IBM], the Educational Testing Service [ETS], and Iowa University, where the material history of the now-defunct Measurement Research Center [MRC] is kept in the Special Collections and University Archives. Images from these three institutions are interspersed in horizontal succession across the walls, in three different formats: digital photographs of rooms and objects in the archives printed 30 by 40 inches and framed, scans of multiple photographs and ephemera re-photographed in the artist’s studio printed 27 by 22 inches and framed, and scans of analog archive photographs of machines and documents digitally printed on standard sheets of paper and taped to the wall. In contrast to much contemporary installation, in which a space is filled with an array of objects constituting a kind of environment, these meticulously individuated materials are more like informational stations at which the viewer might stop and look closely, and are accompanied by a pamphlet of “footnotes” for each image that traces its significance within the larger history of testing.4 Herrera-Prats contrasts a specific material history with the methods of archival research that allow this history to be mapped. For standardized testing and the contemporary archive share a common medium—the scanner. In both cases, the physical contact between the scanner and the object it scans—its haptic charting of surfaces—mirrors the bodily traces of human activity embedded within the object, conditioning the result, score or image, as an authoritative source of knowledge. Standardized testing in the United States emerged from contrary aims. The initial forays into this practice in the nineteenth century were devoted to rooting out deficiency or abnormality, to finding those unequipped for education. In 1916 Lewis Terman, at Stanford University redesigned the IQ test, now dubbed the Stanford-Binet exam, to detect excellence instead of insufficiency.5 Developed out of the IQ tests administered to soldiers during World War I, the Scholastic Aptitude Test was first developed by Carl Brigham in 1926, although it was not until the postwar era that it began to be implemented widely as an accurate predictor of academic performance.6 Technology for the rapid grading of standardized tests first became available with Reynold B. Johnson’s sale of a grading machine to IBM in 1934. By World War II, soldiers were being widely tested to determine guru Henry Chauncey. Three figures spearheaded advances in testing and grading after the war. Benjamin H. Wood, at IBM, helped to refine Johnson’s technology once the company acquired it, producing increasingly lighter versions of the 805. Wood had also founded the Cooperative Test Service in 1936, which in 1947 became the Educational Testing Service, based in Princeton, New Jersey. Chauncey was named director and oversaw the introduction of many of the ETS’s better-known achievement tests, including the MCAT and TOEFL, at that time. Everett Franklin Lindquist, who had implemented a widely-used standardized exam in Iowa in the 1930s, founded the MRC, the first centralized grading institution for standardized exams, at Iowa University in 1954. It was here that Lindquist installed a new, high-speed scanning technology (patented in 1962), which ran light through the paper to locate marks. The MRC centralized the grading of standardized exams into the 1970s.7 The three men— Wood, Chauncey, and Lindquist—remained in contact throughout these decades, with IBM and Iowa developing faster and more efficient grading machines that were then utilized by ETS. Their collaboration was not free of competition and maneuvering, however. In 1959, working through his Science Research Associates institution in Chicago (founded 1938), Lindquist introduced the American College Test, or ACT, to compete with the SAT.8 As Herrera-Prats’ findings reveal, on more than one occasion these institutions threatened to sue one another for copyright infringement.Financial capitalization and profit motives shadowed every step of advances in the field of standardized educational testing and scanning technology. In Testing: Its Place in Education Today, Chauncey outlined ETS’s philosophy as of 1963, noting that standardized tests succeed when they exhibit two fundamental qualities.9 First, they must possess “validity”: they must “measure what they are intended to measure.” This tautological criteria is ultimately dependent upon public perception, in that the exam must be recognized as an authoritative evaluation of its given field or skill set. Second, tests must be “reliable,” meaning that if an examinee took one more than once, his or her score would be more or less the same. This is why exams feature many similar questions—they repeat within themselves. These two objectives are folded into the larger operation that is the standardized test: the channeling of disparate individuals into equivalent numeric values, of analog into digital. “The analog and the digital must be thought together, asymmetrically,” theorist Brian Massumi writes, “because the analog is always a fold ahead.”10 In Parables for the Virtual: Movement, Affect, Sensation, Massumi frames the relation between analog and digital in affective terms, arguing that it is only the analog that bears traces of the body and its fluid interaction with the world around it. For example, computer code might produce words which appear on the screen, but it is only in being contacted and read by human eyes that those words truly “appear.”11 Likewise, an exam score condenses and obscures the analog operations that allowed the score to be computed. Both body and mind are engaged while an exam is taken. The body has the last word. After an answer is chosen, a correspondent bubble is filled in via an act of drawing that represents a previous mental labor; a retroactive, gestural record of deduction. This gesture is contained within the field of the “bubble,” within the syntax of the machine that is to read/grade it. Body is thereby fit into machine, but almost always awkwardly; few receive a perfect score. The majority of testtakers, getting at least a few answers wrong, do not match 100% of the machine’s answers. Ideal preparation for the exam is therefore the accurate anticipation of the machine’s future actions, the anterior script that it follows. To excel is to match this programming as closely as possible, to preemptively approach its consistency. Yet the machine does not dominate utterly, for its operation is contingent upon its prior human interface. Scores allow for people to be compared numerically, but hidden within them are messy, physical processes: the mental strain of deduction, the effort of the hand exerted upon the substrate later fed into the machine. Consistency is marked from within by contingency.12 Prep Materials engages this deep structure of grading through a different conversion of analog to digital: that of the contemporary archive. Herrera-Prats’ juxtaposition of different formats does not only take place from image to image, but within the images themselves. Original analog photographs, such as those of IBM’s different iterations of the 805 and the MRC’s larger production machines and circuit boards, have been scanned prior to printing. Edges of archival binders and supports are visible, and in some cases typewritten, pasted-on captions. It is not only the photographic record of the machine, room, or document that is presented to the viewer, but the status of this photograph as one of myriad elements in an archive. Attention is paid to the subtle distinction between camera and scanner. In bouncing light off a given visual field, the camera captures an image in an instant, while the scanner literally runs over the surface of the document at hand, making contact with it gradually. The scanner thus engages time, a process more akin to reading; the camera is synchronic. With digital photography, the activity of the camera is closer to that of the scanner. In both technologies, light-sensitive diodes called “photosites” are organized into a larger charge-coupled device or “CCD array,” which converts light, as photons, into the electrons that serve as the foundation of digital information. In the scanner, the CCD array is attached to a “scan head” along with mirrors, lenses, and filters, and run evenly over the length of the scanned object. In this sense it echoes the indexical contact of the scanned object with its archival predecessor, the photocopy or Xerox machine (though the scanner retains digitized information that can then be further manipulated).13 Herrera-Prats pushes these media against one another to expose their point of convergence; not where they explicitly differ, but hinge, where one is generated from the other. Massumi cautions, “Whatever medium you are operating in, you miss the virtual”—his term for the ineffable flux that conditions being—“unless you carry the images constructed in that medium to the point of topological transformation.”14 The larger photographs in the exhibition provide glimpses of the archival sites in which the rich history of testing and grading has been laid to rest. An early grading machine, the Type 850, sits in an anonymous hallway at IBM, its leaden weight and odd design (its legs resemble those of a sewing machine) flanked by staid office plants on either side. Now useless, dusty circuit boards and connectors lie on desks at the University of Iowa. At ETS, photographs of the institution’s prior spaces compete for attention with stacks of newer review texts for various exams, which are equally subject to rapid obsolescence. The smaller photographs also speak to an insistent outmodedness. The MRC’s first and second models were clusters of machines that took up an entire room and were designed like futuristic control centers. Here, the obsession to digitize the archive becomes clear: it is an attempt to flee the materiality of the defunct. The organization of the images in Prep Materials echo the archival storage codes of horizontal and vertical, vectors echoed by close-up photographs of library stacks, that aim to organize and control everything. In contrast with recent artistic representations of the archive as an antiseptic tomb, however, Herrera-Prats utilizes the large photograph format to expose clutter and hints of disorganization that speak to the continued analog activity of the archivist.15 The 27 by 22 inch panels of re-photographed materials, which include promotional illustrations and photographs for different machines, identify particular users. In the 1930s and 1940s, IBM frequently pictured women seated at grading machines. When, in some images, the female operator sits at the 805, its flat surface resembles a desk. Wendy Hui Kyong Chun has observed a tension circa World War II between “computing,” the mindless and repetitive programming that was allotted to women at that time, and the more difficult job of “programming proper,” with its attendant notions of system mastery, that remained the province of male operators. Chun writes, “During World War II almost all computers were young women with some background in mathematics. Not only were women available for work then, they were also considered to be better, more conscientious computers, presumably because they were better at repetitious, clerical tasks.”16 Computing was a logical extension of clerical work— women’s work. In the early scanning technology of the grading machine, it is the role of teacher that is extended technologically. The women in IBM photographs are sutured to the machines, which speed up and elongate their ability to instruct (by grading exams). These women are amalgams of secretary, seated at a desk, and teacher, herself already an extension of the mother during the workday, her educational doppelganger. ETS photographs from the 1960s, however, unveil changes to the script. Male teachers, signified by their shirt and tie with no jacket, appear as the new benefactors of advances in grading technology. In 1974, Lindquist’s scoring system was applied to the development of ballot machines for elections. Multiple choice here takes on a different valence: given to citizens of a democracy that is also a culture of testing. Evaluated at every turn, we evaluate those who will rule. As with the standardized test, however, “validity,” or legitimacy, is an essential precondition for democracy. In voting, a leap of faith is taken that the election will be a fair one, that the hardware will work. As is now clear, however, that the exam can be rigged. The blame laid upon outdated machinery for the uncertain results of the 2000 presidential elections implicitly contended that had the newest technology been purchased, there would not have been a problem. In this sense, the anomalous event merely reassured Americans that the system ordinarily functions correctly. Ultimately it is we who absorb validity as citizens from the devices that mediate the democratic act of voting—and happen to be locked in a cycle of perpetual obsolescence. Prep Materials includes a schematic wall drawing of an early ballot machine. The precariousness of the hand-drawing reflects that of the ever-newer technologies that condition our political experience, while also referencing the bodily movements required of the ballot machine when selecting that chosen candidates. Written in 1949, Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman anticipated the postwar relay between media, the subject, and achievement. In a sequence in Act Two, Willy Loman, trying to save himself from an impending nervous breakdown, requests a desk job from his younger boss, Howard. The transition would put an end to the protagonist’s exhausting and pointless sales travel, but Howard demurs, even when Willy describes his close relationship with Howard’s father. Howard leaves the room, and Willy lapses into a reverie in which he speaks with his former boss, in the process leaning too close to a wire recorder that Howard has just purchased and used to record members of his family. WILLY: […] He leans on the desk and as he speaks the dead man’s name he accidentally switches on the recorder, and instantly HOWARD’S SON: “…of New York is Albany. The capital of Ohio is Cincinnati, the capital of Rhode Island is...” The recitation continues. WILLY, leaping away with fright, shouting: Ha! Howard! Howard! Howard! HOWARD, rushing in: What happened? WILLY, pointing at the machine, which continues nasally, childishly, with the capital cities: Shut it off! Shut it off!17 Throughout the play, Willy has disavowed his son Biff’s professional failures, all of which apparently stem from the failure of a high school math exam that, had he passed, would have secured him a football scholarship to the University of Virginia and a pathway to the good life. Here Willy is confronted with the disembodied voice of Howard’s son, at the precise moment that Willy is thinking of his long-lost success in sales. Howard’s son intones correct answers to the names of the fifty capitals of the United States, as though taking— and passing—an oral exam. The mechanical structure of this exam is literal. Machines pass exams; machines succeed. Biff is far too human, as is Willy, who, thanks to his outburst, is fired on the spot. Willy flees to the office of his only friend, Charley, a successful businessman with a lawyer son and thus Willy’s diametric opposite. CHARLEY: Howard fired you? WILLY: That snotnose. Imagine that? I named him. I named him Howard. CHARLEY: Willy, when’re you gonna realize that them things don’t mean anything? You named him Howard, but you can’t sell that. The only thing you got in this world is what you can sell. And the funny thing is that you’re a salesman, and you don’t know that. WILLY: I’ve always tried to think otherwise, I guess. I always felt that if a man was impressive, and well liked, that nothing— CHARLEY: Why must everybody like you? Who liked J.P. Morgan?…18 Willy has maintained up to this point that Biff will ultimately succeed thanks to his “likeability,” his inherent humanity; this is all that is needed to forge a connection with a boss or buyer. But likeability cannot be quantified. Charley contends that only capital, the dollars one generates and which allow one to be compared to others, is what matters. Assessment in the workplace is preceded by the exams that simultaneously predict and prefigure one’s fate in a digitized professional world. The exam that Biff failed expelled him forever from the circuit of never-ending evaluation that begins with exams and ends in the production of capital, that which sets an entire life span to the rhythm of the commodity. Printed on the wall next to the images in Prep Materials is the phrase, “Everything measured is every thing done.”19 At points during the play, a lone flute is heard. Stage directions tell us that Willy “hears but is not aware of it”; his body senses independent of his mind’s interpretation.20 It is later revealed that Willy’s father played and sold flutes as he traveled around the country. The flute is a synecdoche of an earlier entrepreneurial moment in which one’s individuality actually mattered, and an earlier, bodily music prior to recorded sound. This instrument channels human breath into a system of notes and measures; the wire recorder captures all sound and simply plays it back, severed from its source. The flute accompanies Willy as a spectral trace of human presence. Upon hearing the utterly perfunctory operation of the recorder, Willy discovers, at the heart of his dream of success, tape reels revolving mindlessly. Prep Materials marshals this same flute theme to accompany a slide show in which every single circle of a Scantron sheet is gradually filled out. The movements of the artist’s hand have been elided; the slide show is a progression of traces. The slides are created from digital scans, run together like frames of a film through an outmoded analog projection device. This is a serial script: all bubbles will be filled in. The sheet has been used against its original purpose, turning from coded to visual material, to a template for drawing. Agency cannot be extricated from the technological structures which digitize it for capital at every turn. But the march of technology creates fissures between media, through which the analog gleams. Consistency yields its own wrinkles of difference. Many thanks to Carla Herrera-Prats, Media Farzin, Lindsay Caplan, and Dana Ospina for their thoughtful comments about this essay in its earlier stages, as well as Eva Díaz and Art in General for providing the opportunity to write about this work. 1. Walter Benjamin, “Convolute F: Iron Construction,” The Arcades Project, trans. Howard Eiland and Kevin McLaughlin (Cambridge, MA: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1999), 152. 2. “IBM TEST SCORING MACHINE Type 805,” Promotional Brochure, 1941, IBM Archives. Though not included in the exhibition, this text is in the larger archive of materials related to testing compiled by Herrera-Prats during her research at the archives of IBM, the MRC and ETS in 2008. 3. This is an approach consistent with Herrera-Prats’s previous archive-based projects: Measures of an Archive (2007), which looked at the art-historical archiving (via exhibition catalogues) of artists who themselves work from archive collections; The Burden of Decision: Two Exercises on Collaboration (2006), with Úrsula Dávila, which exhibited materials related to Lawrence Weiner that were in the Fluent-Collaborative archives in Austin, Texas, and Official Stories (2005), which displayed materials from archives related to the Mexican government’s use of pre-Colonial imagery and history. 4. This definition of “installation” is outlined by Briony Fer in her recent text The Infinite Line: Re-making Art After Modernism (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2005). Fer traces installation to the efforts of color field painters such as Mark Rothko to completely fill the walls of the gallery, literally surrounding the viewer with art. 5. For discussions of the history of the IQ exam and its controversies, see Stephen Jay Gould, The Mismeasure of Man (W.W. Norton, 1981) and Stephen Murdoch, IQ: A Smart History of a Failed Idea (Hoboken, NJ: Wiley Publishers, 2007). 6. Nicholas Lemann, The Big Test: The Secret History of American Meritocracy (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1999), 29–41. 7. Herrera-Prats’s collection of archival documents contains a number of exchanges between ETS and its lawyers, as it unsuccessfully searched for legal grounds to sue Lindquist. 8. Lemann, The Big Test, 97–98. 9. Henry Chauncey and John E. Dobbin, Testing: Its Place in Education Today (New York: Harper and Row, 1963), 54–65. In his history of American meritocracy, Lemann also discusses these two qualities, though in reverse order (Lemann, The Big Test, 32). 10. Brian Massumi, Parables for the Virtual: Movement, Affect, Sensation (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2002), 143. 11. Ibid. 138. 12. This relation between examinee, exam and grading machine is transformed with a recent development in standardized testing: fully computerized versions of certain ETS exams, such as the GRE and TOEFL, that began to be introduced in the late 1990s (although paper versions of these exams are still given). In addition to instant results, which render obsolete the formerly long wait for results when exams are sent far afield to be graded, the computer-based exams have the unprecedented ability to adapt to the examinee mid-test. If questions are answered correctly, subsequent questions become more difficult; vice versa if incorrect. This exam intelligence adds an interesting, difficult to measure feature to the exam, in which the examinee is as conscious of the exam’s intelligence as the exam is “conscious” of the specificity of the examinee. Altered affective relationships (from an interface with a paper exam to one that is one the screen, with answers directed by a mouse) must also be taken into account. While the role of drawing now disappears, the hand remains the conduit by which intuition is marked on the exam, now in a virtual setting, meaning that Kyong Chun’s arguments about software’s ideological masking of hardware, cited below, are all the more relevant. Instead of “drawing,” how might the hand’s guidance of the mouse be described? The mouse is a visible piece of hardware with a software correspondent, the arrow, on screen. These elements mirror the hand’s movements. In drawing, we are left with the trace of the gesture. On the computer, indexicality is virtualized and remains in the present. 13. For a history of the development of xerography, see David Owen, Copies in Seconds: Chester Carlson and the Birth of the Xerox Machine (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2004). 14. Massumi, Parables for the Virtual, 134. 15. Recent years have seen a spate of art and exhibitions investigating the archive. A decade of shows related to the archive might be traced from Deep Storage, the 1997 exhibition at curated by Ingrid Schaffner at the Haus der Kunst in Munich, through Okwui Enwezor’s Archive Fever: Uses of the Document in Contemporary Art at the International Center of Photography in New York in 2007. See Okwui Enwezor, Archive Fever: Uses of the Document in Contemporary Art (New York: Steidl/ICP, 2008), Charles Merewether, Documents of Contemporary Art: The Archive (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2006), and Ingrid Schaffner et. al., Deep Storage: Collecting, Storing, and Archiving in Art, exh. cat., P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center (New York: Prestel, 1998). 16. Wendy Hui Kyong Chun, “On Software, or the Persistence of Visual Knowledge,” Grey Room 18, Winter 2004, 33–37. 17. Arthur Miller, Death of a Salesman, (New York: The Viking Press, 1949), 82–83. 18. Ibid. 97. 19. This is a variation on “you get what you measure,” an adage common to metrics and other theories of assessment, which argues that workers will perform better if they know that their work will ultimately be evaluated numerically. 20. Miller, Death of a Salesman, 12. From publication "Carla Herrera-Prats: Prep Matierals":/store_items/97