Malraux's imaginary museum has become a reality of our digital age. Everyday, a massive amount of different new visual, textual, and transactional data is added to this vast archive. How do we decide what bits of contemporary digital culture to preserve, study and curate given that its universe is constantly expanding? The parallel questions of selection, archiving and curating are important to address with regards to all media art forms from early video, computer and telematic art to later networked, web-based, software, and data art. There are several strategies already used in media art archiving practice today. It is also important to look for even more new approaches. For instance, data visualization opens up new possibilities for archiving, reinterpreting and exhibiting artworks, allowing us to look at the past and present from other unfamiliar and novel perspectives.
Raitis Smits will discuss the key strategies and main practices, as well as challenges of the digital art preservation process that often is facing various contradictions and even paradoxes. He will be analyzing archiving and representation problematics in digital art – from the net.art of the 90s to the “data art” of the 21st century; introducing case studies such as his Fulbright supported research on rhizome.org archive at New Museum, and ongoing emulation of rixc.lv "art server" (since 1997), commissioned by European Digitalization project at the National Library of Latvia. He also will by looking at his own artistic practice by analyzing it from the perspective of preservation – e.g. “Xchange”, pioneering Internet Radio project (1997), and “Talk to Me” (2014), more recent project that visualizes the human-plant communication. Currently he works on his book on “new media art. preservation and representation problematics”, which is based on his doctoral theses (2015), and a part of which included also series of curated exhibitions – "net.art.lv" (2010) and Save As (2015), as well as "Data Drift. Archiving Media and Data Art of the 21st Century” (RIXC, 2016) – exhibition and book, co-curated and co-edited with Rasa Smite and Lev Manovich.
Raitis Smits is artist, researcher and curator, working with art, science and emerging media since the 90s. He is pioneer of internet radio and networked sound art; co-founder of RIXC Center for new media culture in Riga (rixc.org); organizer of RIXC Art and Science festivals; and curator of the RIXC Gallery. In his artistic practice he works together with Rasa Smite, creating visionary and innovative artworks on the edge of art, science and techno-ecologies. Currently, Raitis is visiting lecturer at MIT ACT, and his work together with Rasa Smite - “Biotricity. Swamp Radio” was shown in MIT CAVS 50 year anniversary program and is on view at Venice Architecture biannale, Swamp Pavilion.
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