Para-archives are informal accounts, idiosyncratic collections and poetic inventories of various excerpts
from the surrounding world. The prefix para- takes on several meanings here. As the etymology
indicates, coming from the Greek the term denotes that which happens
beside, is amiss and out of place. But para- might also mean a state of being
distant from and yet analogous to something or someone (as in paramilitary).
Here, the prefix para- is used primarily to indicate the parallel nature of
personal collecting and archiving in relation to other streams of everyday life, and also as
to differentiate them from other, official archiving practices undertaken
by, for example, memory institutions (such as state archives and museums),
concerned with the formalization, accumulation, preservation, and
administration of historical documents. Besides that, para-archiving can be seen as one that occurs parallel to other kinds of both
voluntary and non-voluntary, automated, imperceptible capturing and
micro-archiving practices and mechanisms inscribed deeply in the workings of today's computational technologies and network services.
This website presents an open-ended, succesively growing, post-digtial publication series dedicated to such para-archival accounts. The series consists of individual booklets, each comprising an analog and digital component. On this website you will find digital material (e.g. code, video, audio recordings) that corresponds to and complements the paper booklets, which you can download as a print-ready pdf file or order via email (jacek[at]smolicki[dot]com).
In the times characterized by the proliferating excess of digitally mediated memories and a trend to 'go-all-digital', the intention here is to play with qualities and attributes of both, digital and analog forms, to create a hybrid media experience. In other words, para-archives publication series proposes a partial return to manual, reflective, slower but also disparate and disobedient forms of engaging with experiencing and documenting everyday life.
Para-archiving does not require special education, expertise in archival science or professional training in the arts. This is why the range of authors of interest to this publication, besides artists and cultural producers, will include, for example, everyday media practitioners, amateur street documentalists and rag-pickers.
The paper booklets can be ordered via regular post. If you are interested in ordering selected booklets, get in touch by writing to jacek[at]smolicki[dot]com. The cost of each hand-made booklet covers the replacement of the purchased copy and supports the production of following ones. This enables the archive to grow and be regularly maintained. If you engage in para-archival practices yourself, or know of someone who does, and would like to collaborate on a booklet within the series, please get in touch directly via the same email address. Also, do not hestitate to get in touch if you would like to organize a talk, presentation or workshop on para-archiving and creative techniques of documenting everyday life.