David Archibald of the University of Glasgow recently circulated an abstract for a paper I will be giving in March as part of their seminar series. The full abstract and details for the event can be found here.
Leo Enticknap, a Lecturer at Leeds in Visual and Communication Arts, read the abstract on the British Association of Film, Television and Screen Studies email list and wrote the following (italicized portions are excerpts from my abstract):
Typical Figure, British Library
Last month, the British Library released more than one million images from 17th, 18th, and 19th century books to Flickr commons. They would like the images to circulate widely–and, to this end, have invited the public to “use, remix, and repurpose” them–but they have also invited the public into a kind of collaborative preservative-historiographic relationship. It seems that the library does not know a whole lot about the images that they have scanned. From the press release: Continue reading
The Smithsonian recently made a small portion of its collection available through its new X3D Explorer platform. In a strange invocation of the digital haptic, the organization describes this new form of encounter as “the end of ‘do not touch’.”
You can touch…but you just can’t feel.
About two weeks ago, a fire started at the archive.org scanning center in San Francisco. No one was hurt and, within 48 hours, employees were back at work scanning materials. According to the archive’s blog, they lost hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of cameras and scanning equipment, but most of their data was unaffected: Continue reading
I am happy to announce an exciting series of upcoming events that I have been organizing as part of the 2013 Aberdeen Sound Festival in collaboration with Ross Whyte, a colleague in Music. In September, we will be hosting SCRATCH, a set of workshops and film screenings that will introduce participants to a variety of recycled, found footage, and recycled cinema practices, along with the basics of sound production and recording.
La Jetée (Chris Marker, 1962)
The latest edition of archival news, edited by yours truly, just went live at the Cinema Journal website. Please take a look! I welcome feedback on the new format and tips for future issues.
A fascinating account of photographer Garry Winogrand from The Awl:
When he died, of gallbladder cancer in 1984, he left behind more than half a million exposures. Most of them were unedited. Most of them he had never even looked at. Winogrand had always been prolific—but this was something else: three hundred thousand pictures (at a minimum), barely sorted, unorganized, with no indication of why or when they were taken. By most counts their quality didn’t keep up with their quantity. Thousands were botched, “plagued with technical failures—optical, chemical, and physical flaws—in one hundred permutations.” The ones that weren’t tended to be either banal or badly composed, but there were so many of them it was hard to get a read on the whole.
The archive Winogrand left behind was an ocean—trackless, infinite, and unsurveyable—and few had the patience to enter into it. Contemplating its immensity, the curator Alex Sweetman imagined a photographic blob, oozing out of its drawers until it blocked traffic on the entire East Side. Leo Rubinfien, the curator of a new retrospective predicated on the idea that the late work wasn’t all bad, admits to a severe drop off in quality. And even John Szarkowski, Winogrand’s close friend and chief patron, while editing the late work for a posthumous exhibit, found himself feeling first impatient, then angry, and finally convinced that he was the butt of a cruel joke, “designed by the photographer to humiliate him.”
The whole thing is worth reading. I am left wondering: what’s the difference between Winogrand’s work–a seeming anomaly in the era of analog photography–and the “trackless, infinite, and unsurveyable” digital archives we are (almost) all in the process of constructing?