Future Present: archives in an expanded field

english, russian

Participants of the conference will talk about ‘archive’ in its many incarnations: traditional and reinterpreted as a tool compilation of artworks and art practices.

© Timo Arnall

Since its emergence digital technology has been constituting copious systems of transmission, storage and dissemination of knowledge and information. The expansive digitisation has brought in the era, where anyone can make any image or text globally accessible; the era, when anyone can be her or his own archivist. However, global accessibility does not always rhyme with preservation: the internet is perceived as an ocean of data where everything drowns and disappears.

Digital public space is a fragmented fabric of desolate pieces of information, which seem to be hardly observable in their totality. However, one may argue that the internet itself is in essence a tool of observaibility, or surveillance to be precise. Internet surveillance is similar to archival practices: it collects data, divides it into detectable operations, and stores it in well-ordered units. These units in their turn are only visible and available to an unknown spectator of the internet as a whole. Thus the principle upon which the internet is built is reversed: universal transparency becomes universal opacity. Here the archive’s function shifts from utilitarian repository of information to an effective tool of designing new social, cultural and political order.

Universally thought to be a mechanism of conserving the past, archive has not only evolved into a tool for transmitting the present into the future, but into apparatus suitable for altering memory and transferring it into an alternative future. During the “Books are in the air” festival, its participants will look at the archive in its numerous incarnations: traditional and re-imagined, an instrument for collecting art works and an instrument of artistic practice.

Julia Scher — an American artist whose work is dedicated to the issues of surveillance, control and power. Her work has been exhibited at the Venice Biennale, the Whitney Biennial, MOMA PS1, Centro de Arte, Reina Sofia, etc. She has lectured at at Harvard and Princeton Universities, UCLA and USC. She currently holds the professorship for Multimedia and Performance/Surveillant Architectures at the Academy of Media Arts Cologne.

Sven Spieker — professor at University of California Santa Barbara. His research interests include Russian and East-Central European literature, contemporary art, the theory and practice of the historical avant-garde, and the interplay of media, art, and phioposhy. Spieker is the world-renowned expert in the field of archives. He is the author “The Big Archive” (MIT Press, 2008), and the co-founding editor of ARTMargins, an online journal for contemporary art and aesthetic theory in East-Central Europe.

Anastasia Ryabova — contemporary artist. Kandinsky Prize winner in 2011 for her work “Artists’ Private Collections”.

Dragan Espenschied — media artist and 8-bit musician. Digital conservationist at Rhizome.org. Espenschied is well known in the academic research field for projects such as bwFLA: Emulation as a Service, which allows legacy computer systems to run in a standard web browser. With Olia Lialina, he has also undertaken user-centered projects like One Terabyte of Kilobyte Age, an automatically-generated archive of screen captures of 1990s Geocities webpages; and Once Upon, an enactment of contemporary websites in a historic network environment. He has also published and spoken widely on vernacular uses of the web, such as in the book Digital Folklore, edited with Lialina.

The festival is an eclectic series of events, among which are a workshop on data visualisation, a conference on digital archivalism, and an interactive multimedia exhibition and a concert. Together they form a platform for discussion of virtual structures that inform and influence modern models of text and information presentation. It is a laboratory for experimental inquiries into the nature of the digital realm and its intersection with the lived space.
The conference supported by innovation partner “MegaFon”.