10th December 2019: archives of fragments & physical ‘hypertexts’

The last few months I’ve been frenetically working on my RF2 (confirmation of PhD). The presentation went well, though I’m still struggling a little writing the report – getting things into a cohesive, logical order within the word limit is proving quite taxing! I have been mapping my thinking by creating a large ‘mind map’ on the studio wall but I realised that it was rather impractical going forward.

So, I’ve spent the last couple of weeks putting everything onto index cards (with cross referenced stickies) and I realised today that I’ve built myself a physical ‘hypertext'(1).

This has led me to think about the form of my studio practice as a research practice and I hit upon the idea of creating a parallel archive.

Taking the form of a ‘mini-archive’, a box of small studio experiments (sketches, photos, samples, notes, mini digital interactive pieces etc) in response to each object, with each box forming a larger ‘meta-archive’ in response to the whole collection.

I think this will do a number of things. Firstly, as a separate but related archive, I think it’s an interesting way to explore the idea of artists inserting themselves into the collection (Inserting works into the collection, becoming part of its history). Secondly, it seems to me to be an intuitive response to the fragmentary nature of the Blackwork objects and the collection – fragments in response to fragments. Thirdly, it will be a collection of small things, echoing the small, domestic scale of the Blackwork objects – plus by making my responses small I’ll have an opportunity to explore many different avenues, and any digital responses can be self-contained (using cheap, easily available mini-computers, micro-controllers and electronics I’ll not have to worry about hardware obsolescence). Finally, my archives will be indexed but totally rearrangeable, the idea being that any ‘reader’ will be able to explore freely and follow their own path through the material, much like a hypertext – I’m thinking about the idea of Museum collections as relational networks.

1: hypertext: the linking of related pieces of information by electronic connections in order to allow a user easy access between them.

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