We’ve wrapped up our fourth semester of my Archives, Libraries + Databases class. And once again, it proved to be the highlight of my fall. We visited the Municipal Archives, the Reanimation Library, the Interference Archive, and the Morgan Library. Kate Eichhorn came to visit to talk about archival theory and feminist archives. Radhika Subramaniam and Brian McGrath visited to talk about “epistmological” exhibitions — specifically, the “future of knowledge institutions” exhibition that Brian, Orit Halpern, Kim Ackert, and I are organizing, with help from Radhika, for March 2015.
And the students once again made me proud and verklempt with their smart and critical and often playful projects — projects that demonstrate their genuine investment in the beautiful and challenging and profound and provocative ideas we chewed on all throughout the semester.
Annie created The Ghost Stories Archive — a collection of, well, ghost stories, collected and organized in such a way as to attempt to find themes and patterns in supernatural experience. Annie plans to keep working on the site, since it informs work she’d like to do in her doctoral research.
Rachel (in collaboration with Laura) created the Ex-Archive, which “collects, stores, and preserves digital copies of materials from break ups and failed relationships, as well as data and information about those relationships.” It takes a parodically “clinical” approach, presenting the act of bequeathing one’s break-up documentation to an archive, and providing the necessary metadata, as a therapeutic experience. Rachel and Laura, too, plan to keep working on the archive; I think it has the potential to be big! (My contributions alone could keep them busy for a while 🙂
Eishin created My Little Library, a periodic documentation of the books that filter in and out of her apartment and the little, situationally-defined, project-based collections they organize themselves into. She, too, plans to sustain this project.
Zack created Trashing, a comparative documentation of the digital trash on folks’ computer desktops and the physical trash in their garbage cans. Examining these two trash bins in tandem can offer insight into the integration of mind and body in various forms of labor. He plans to add more examples from more physical kinds of labor — the trash generated by chefs and woodworkers, for instance.
Ariana, in “Classifying Ephemera,” explored the subjectivity and iterability of classification — particularly the classification of quotidian objects. She went around the city collecting a bunch of ephemera, then explored multiple means of organizing that collection, while also acknowledging the specific contexts in which she originally encountered each item. She plans to expand this project into a website with photo documentation of her various organizational schemes, and the diagrams and notes she created in the act of classification.
Laura is creating an archival system for all the material generated as part of the Architectural League’s and Center for an Urban Future’s Re-Envisioning Branch Libraries design study. She’ll be archiving all the design material — allowing visitors to search by theme, design challenge, and design team — and supplementing that material with statements from and interviews with the designers and project managers (of which I am one!).
Oliver created a video that both examines and exemplifies the “database aesthetics” of Foley (“sound effects”) databases. He “deconstructs” each sound, showing how it might match up with various visual complements.
Fan explored the soundscape of his college town — Chengdu, China — by creating a map that classified various recorded sounds by activity and setting, and then assigned each a color based on ambiance or affect.
Saori is creating an exhibition that examines the mnemonic capabilities of smell, while also experimenting with means of “storing” fragrance itself.
And Nima is working on a HistoryPin-based oral history project with seniors.