Rhizome’s Digital Preservation Director Dragan Espenschied recently sat down with Ben Fino-Radin of Small Data Industries, host of the Art and Obsolescence Podcast, to discuss the ways in which his work as an artist, musician, and developer informed his approach to preserving digital art. From his early exposure to the demo scene, his work with Rephlex Records, and his collaboration with Olia Lialina on the Digital Folklore book and more, Dragan’s story speaks to the importance of community and material culture in shaping creative practice.
This has deeply informed his work at Rhizome, where he has taken a systems-level approach to digital preservation, eschewing as much as possible the in-depth focus on “heroic” great works that is more typical of museums. This approach coincides nicely with Rhizome's needs, with thousands of works in the ArtBase archive, and the tools and approaches that Dragan has nurtured in this context have had important field-wide impact: the ArtBase’s use of Linked Open Data; Emulation as a Service; and the Webrecorder system (now an independent project).
During the episode, Dragan also applies this systems-level framework to the preservation field itself, and observes that there is not enough field-wide dialogue. “If you think about this whole field as a community where different folks are focusing on different things and building out different specializations and you're all friends with each other and you're exchanging information and you are helping each other out and you're making projects together. I think that can benefit the field as a whole.” What’s most needed, he argues, may be less in-depth case studies than meta-level, cross-cutting analyses.
Listen to the full episode to hear more on this topic, and why Dragan’s first album was titled Maxi German Rave Blast Hits 3.