Kennis /

Archive 2020:


— ​A repository and platform for software art that has grown organically through close relation to artists and to the ReadMe festivals of software art.

When once asked how we plan to keep Runme alive, I said things should have a right to die. Now it seems impossible to accept. Moreover, databases and projects change shape and concept over time and when one faces the need for archiving, preserving, and restoring, a lot of new questions rise to top. Runme was never thought to be an archive, it was there to react to a lively, chaotic and ‘dirty’ aesthetic phenomenon. How can it be turned into an archive? Is it an act of killing or saving?

If archive is not an act but a process, an ecology, so to say, shall we try being ‘faithful’ to a certain ‘heroic’ stage, a plateau in what and how we preserve? Is there a moment we want to freeze or a process whose dynamics we need to accept? The systems of connections and contexts of aesthetic feats change overtime. Do we need to carry out interpretative work, or shall we add new ‘active’ elements that will carry out the work of interpretation by updating and transforming the structure itself? What are the actors in the process of archiving? If an archive is dynamic, what is the difference then between something carrying on due to being alive or due to being updatingly archived? Is archive a shade or a chest of drawers? is a repository and platform for software art that has grown organically through close relation to artists and to the ReadMe festivals of software art. Starting in 2001 it has provided a central point of reference and discussion for the development of aesthetics of code; glitch art; activist software; speculative software; alternative visualisation tools; funny examples of hackerly software; digital folk culture; and many other kinds of software art. The site is both inclusive of different aesthetic and cultural approaches, but also rigorous in the way it selects particular projects for highlighting. provides an archive for most of the key pieces of software art from a loose international network of contributors, many of which would not otherwise be available. Alongside the archived software art are several hundred key commissioned and contributed texts on the field that together provide a history of the critical and theoretical trajectory of software art.

Funding History
The development of the project has tied into the production cycles of a sister-project, the migratory festival of software art Readme Moscow, Helsinki, Aarhus, and Dortmund. It has not had specific funding on its own terms. This lively relation to an active scene of production and debate has meant that the repository continues to serve a necessary developmental and generative function as well as providing the most substantial resource on the field of software art. It has however meant that the project receives no funding in its own terms, lessening the ability to make strategic developments.

At present the site is maintained on a volunteer basis, with technical upgrades being made on an adhoc basis. Projects are also maintained on the site on a volunteer basis. This means that the repository gains from having experienced and committed participants. It also means that a number of problems with maintenance of the content are generated. These can be broken down into a number of different categories, curatorial, technical, and critical:

  • Links to projects online (web-sites and downloadable packages) are gradually lost as domains move or close down
  • There is little time to solicit contributions from artists and others, an essential task if emergent artists are to be involved from outside of established networks
  • Soliciting of historically significant work from the field which is not voluntarily uploaded


  • The 'CMS' on which the repository is based was custom-coded at the time of the project's initiation (before such software was developed in the form of Drupal, for instance). It is in need of a full technical review and substantial renewal.
  • Server space is allocated to the project on a voluntary basis. We would like to move it towards a more sustainable mode.

Software culture has become a defining concern in contemporary cultural theory and practice, and much of the groundwork for this engagement has roots in software art and critical responses to it. has provided a unique platform for the development of critical writing on software art. We would like to be able to consolidate and renew activity in this field (?)

We would like to do two things: Firstly, to archive the site in its present form in a stable state; Secondly, to renew the platform and develop audience and participation initiatives.
1. To Make an Archive of version of

  •    Gather copies of all projects suffering from link decay
  •    Standardise all the programmed elements of the site to recognised archive standard (?)
  •    Publish stabilised archive version on the web, with long-term server and domain name registration
  •    Establish deals with appropriate repositories for maintenance and storage of archive

2. Develop the Platform

  •    Review functionality of existing site and evaluate migration to a new software platform (?)
  •    Migrate to new cms (?)
  •    Time for promotion, relaunch and participation drive

Biography Olga Goriunova
Olga Goriunova is a Maternity Cover Lecturer in Interactive Media at Goldsmiths College, University of London, where she is Programme Leader for the MA “Interactive Media: Critical Theory and Practice” in the Centre for Cultural Studies. She has been involved in the field of software art, organizing a series of festivals, conferences and online projects. Dr. Goriunova has edited four volumes on software art and cultures related to the repository and ReadMe Festivals, such as Software art plays, Readme 1.2 (ROSIZO, Moscow, 2002), Readme Reader. About Software Art (NIFCA Publication 25, Helsinki, 2003), Readme Edition 2004. Software Art and Cultures (Digital Aesthetics Research Centre, University of Aarhus, 2004), Readme 100 Temporary Software Art Factory (Hartware MedienKunstVerein, Dortmund, 2006). She is the author of numerous articles and book chapters appearing in magazines such as Third Text, Mute, NIFCA, Springerin and in books published by the MIT Press, Bochum University, OpenMute, Éditions HYX, VDG Verlag, and Autonomedia. Over the last two years, she has also acted as a jury member for the Transmediale Festival, Berlin. is a case study presented during Archive 2020.



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