Performatively Archiving the Early Web: One Terabyte of Kilobyte Age
VIEW Journal Issue . 23 p. 69- 85
The abrupt closing of the web hosting service GeoCities – one of the most popular websites inhabited by users in the 90s – is a well-known example of the importance of web archiving for saving digital cultural heritage. GeoCities’ shutdown is a warning for today’s social media user-generated content that might suffer the same fate. Various web archiving organisations archived and nowadays present GeoCities pages. Olia Lialina and Dragan Espenschied engage with GeoCities’ legacy in their project One Terabyte of Kilobyte Age (2010–ongoing). This paper expands on the archival strategies of the artists and places their practice in the context of web archiving organisations – specifically Archive Team, the Internet Archive, and Restorativland – to understand how an artistic position may open up other ways of engaging with digital cultural heritage. This paper considers the archival practices of the organisations, artists, and users as a network of care, enabling different forms of remembrance. Whereas the archiving organisations preserve and present GeoCities statically, Lialina and Espenschied take a performative archival approach, in which they re-perform the dataset with old and new users. Through circulation and narration, One Terabyte of Kilobyte Age builds on the memories of the artists and users and aims to give the GeoCities heritage back to users. The project invites users to interpret and make meaning of GeoCities and embraces the fluidity of digital culture, whilst embodying the future archival insecurity of commercial platforms.