Digital Surrogates is an artwork that takes the form of an online archive corresponding to FRAGMENTS (2016–ongoing). The archive features documentation of artwork, research material and critical writing that Rayyane Tabet has collected since 2015. Driven by a desire to make the material accessible, he identified the digital as the only ‘space’ in which documentation of his artistic engagements in image, text and time-based media could be easily housed and widely accessed on one platform. Tabet has designed the archive as a relational and expanding database—decidedly not an online exhibition or a digitised version of an already-existing artwork—and this form works to offset any singular authorial gesture or historical narrative. Visitors to the site, which can be accessed at dedicated computer stations in Gallery 2 or any device with an internet connection, may engage with Digital Surrogates through a variety of search terms, including person, artwork, exhibition and publication. The results from that search will display those records that currently share those assigned markers or filters.
Tabet has committed to continue uploading and classifying material throughout the exhibition period and into the foreseeable future. Although the platform fulfils the conventional tenets of an archive’s role to preserve and to provide access, the algorithm will continue to generate new connections between entities and enable comparative analysis of surrogates related to a common source (for example, a plaster cast, a foil pressing, the photographic documentation of the artwork). In this way, Tabet’s archive advances questions of access to research material, troubles hierarchical (including distinction between source and surrogate) and poses questions of value in aesthetic terms.