Rhiannon S. Bettivia
Invisibility is a double-edged sword. It is a discursive tool of the privileged that decide what gets rendered invisible in memory and the archive: power can erase from the archive what it wishes to forget as easily as it can choose to remember. Invisibility is also wielded to help reify and entrench dominant structures: whiteness, maleness, heteronormativity, and Eurocentrism are allowed to go unnamed and are implicitly assumed as standard. Their very invisibility speaks to their position of dominance. Edouard Glissant’s notion of opacity speaks to this: who can claim opacity, or a sort of invisibility, and whom has it thrust upon them? Archiving in the digital realm takes on an expanded colloquial meaning: a scholar or artist will say that they will create a digital archive of content while web platforms ‘archive’ when they stash older content out of sight. Without dismissing traditional archives as a tightly constructed body of record, our notion of what archives are and what they do must expand as the kind of content that goes into them moves beyond easily qualified records into digital spaces where objects are often fluid and boundless. Digital projects that document the subaltern engage in critical creative practice to see that which traditional archives overlook. Who speaks for these bodies in digital spaces and how do projects of archives negotiate power structures that render some things purposefully hidden while forcibly un-hiding others? As we develop new archival practice to cope with digital memory, we can begin to address issues of power as expressed through, replicated in and reified via what is included in an official record.