Accepted paper:

Cataloguing and recontextualising visual archives: a very collaborative enterprise

Author:

Susanne Hammacher (√úbersee-Museum Bremen)

Paper short abstract:

Archives offer continuity but are challenged by innovation and need to renegotiate access and new digital partnerships. Creators of a visual work act as an interface at a given time between themselves and a community. These freeze framed, captured moments rarely have closed meaning.

Paper long abstract:

As meaning of visual objects is often generated in the process of communication with their viewers, they will experience drastically changes, and meet new collaborators in their 'second life', once they enter an archive or exhibition. These changing relationships between creators, owners, and audiences of artefacts, often referenced to Clifford's 'Museum as contact zones' (1997) apply as well to archives. Drawing on current archive cataloguing work - Arthur Howes' Sudan collection (1980s), films/photographs of a 1930s expedition into the Pacific - I will introduce some collaborators in this process of 'unlocking these containers of histories'(Bell 2003). The process of cataloguing, researching and sharing film or photographs with their various communities is a very collaborative work. By repatriating images they become new frameworks through which traditions can be revisited, contested and discussed. The stories and memories that emerge from their 'source communities', as well from collaboration with agencies, friends or family members of the creators (who often became the legal copyright holders), researchers and users of the material will not only enhance database entries but add value to the collection and give a second live to the visual work. Conservation today often means digitisation, involving other collaborators (film labs and restaurators) and the original visual works get transformed into digital formats, which potentially can be distributed to new audiences, via DVD, print media or online publication. This process, not envisaged by the original producers, brings together new collaborators, who face questions of access, distribution and exchange.

panel P111
Collaboration in visual work: with whom, how, what for? (VANEASA)