Participation on the panel ‘The Place of the Archive: A Geographical Enquiry into Archiving as Knowledge Politics” (led by Raktim Ray and Srilata Sircar) at the Annual International Conference 2023, Royal Geographical Society, London
reading, writing, and performing technological archives
Manu Luksch & Mukul Patel (Ambient Information Systems)
In this paper we present novel approaches to generating, interrogating and interpreting archives through a body of work produced by the London-based critical arts studio Ambient Information Systems over a period of 20+ years. From deploying networking technologies to bridge communication divides, to activating legal processes around mass surveillance; from mining media repositories and re-articulating them for their contemporary resonance, to the use of 3D and computational imaging; from poetic mapping to constructing media platforms and processes that balance openness, security and salience – the works encompass a range of modes, methods and attitudes towards the digital.
Two ongoing works of particular relevance to the themes of the RGS 2023 conference are the Artefacts of Resistance project in conjunction with geographers at UCL/Bartlett and KCL, which is built on an open-access rich media database that allows for collective editing and distributed storage, and Atlas of the Liminal, a series of photogrammetric portraits of sites associated with the tech industry, including highly contaminated neighbourhoods of Silicon Valley.
Artists typically work with a broader palette than archivists and academics, and can deploy capacities to respond rapidly and engage the public. Through the works discussed, we demonstrate how artistic approaches can promote mechanisms of collective custodianship, advocate design for broader legibility, and illuminate issues of access and anonymity, erasure and censorship, the fictive and the documentary.