Nikita Mazurov: Making Archives Unreliable

Nikita Mazurov is since August post-doc with the Living Archives project. His interest lies in looking at practices of archival protection. For a brief introduction to his work and approach, see the video embedded below (or here on YouTube). Scroll down for a longer introduction.

Video production: Jacek Smolicki

Text: Nikita Mazurov

I recently finished my PhD in Cultural Studies at Goldsmiths, University of London, where I looked at the potentiality of unbridled data dissemination by way of explicating and developing both theoretical (by way of a non-legalist, posthuman hacker methodology) and practical (anti-forensic) techniques of removing any impediments thereto by countering the politics of intellectual properties (malignancies such as copyright/left) and removing forensic watermarks from cultural bodies of work. I’m now a postdoc with the Living Archives project, looking at practices of archival protection.

My perception of archival best practices is predicated upon the notion of unreliability. Given that it may be advantageous for an archive to receive a continuous influx of material, it thus stands to reason that the removal of potential contributors, or their reluctance to contribute in the first place, would then be adversarial to the archive (not to mention that it may be highly unethical to expose archive contributors to risk of apprehension). How, then, are we to foster a sustainable possibility of continued archival contribution? For me, this aim is at least in part achieved through the heightened provision of safety assurance by elevating the level of anonymity available to potential archive contributors.

One way of striving towards anonymity is then via unreliability: by manipulating existent potentially personally identifiable information in contributed archival material (e.g. watermarks, metadata, biometrics, telemetry, etc.) so that its origins may not be readily traced back to the contributor, thus allowing the contributor the opportunity to remain safe from apprehension by any potential adversary.

In other words, one of the key issues of the practice of archiving for me is how can we help protect those who contribute to archives, thus protecting the archive itself?

» Contact Nikita Mazurov

» Download Mazurov’s dissertation: Strategies for Unbridled Data Dissemination: An Emergency Operations Manual.

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