[ Past ]
The projects in the 'Past' section were undertaken during my Master of Archival Studies degree at the University of British Columbia, between 2016 to 2018.
In the perpetual-work-in-progress spirit of the website, I *hope* also to make some of my artwork available here in future, but - having had a digital media-based art practice during the giddy format wars of the early 2000's - it embodies the very digital preservation challenges that drew me into the archival profession in the first place.
UPDATE: I made some headway during my personal digital archiving odyssey for World Digital Preservation Day 2019; see the *Real Past* section.
So, You Want to Donate Your Stuff to the Archives? (2017)
'So, You Want to Donate Your Stuff to the Archives?' was conceptualized and protyped in partnership with fellow UBC iSchool students Alex Neijens and Stephanie Salvaterra for ARST 540: Archival Public Services. The objective of the assignment for which the project was created was to present an archival literacy resource for a specific client community; given the time constraints of a three-credit course, we were not required to build the full resource but to provide enough context to communicate what it is, how it works and its intended learning outcomes.
Identifying prospective donors of archival materials as our intended audience, we proposed a learning object that would help to demystify the purpose and practices of archival institutions. The aim of our proposed project was to provide donors with the information and the confidence necessary to enter into a working relationship with their local archives - that is, to recognize their agency as donors1 - particularly with respect to supporting non-traditional donors and diversifying the archival record. Our final report provides additional background information on the prototype.
We worked together to create the exemplar content for the website, and I designed the website itself. As a prototype, the website is not optimized for speed and/or mobile viewing. If you are visiting the website on your phone, apologies for the hideous layout.
Sacred Jewels (2017)
'Sacred Jewels' is a digital collections website created with my colleague Samuel Mickelson for ARST 556P: Digital Image and Text Collections. For the project, we worked with a community partner to digitize a number of her photographs and documents. Sam and I scanned and processed the images, created the item-level metadata for the project, and developed collection interfaces in ContentDM and DB/TextWorks. I designed a custom landing page for the collection, and wrote the custom CSS for the ContentDM site. You can read more about our process in the project plan.
[ *Real* Past ]
The '*Real* Past' projects are those that predate my current incarnation as digital archivist; a smattering of files from my artistic and scholarly yesteryears.
Strange Topographies (2010)
"Strange Topographies: Fearing the Void in the Edinburgh Stereoscopic Atlas of Anatomy" was a one-off conference paper I wrote after an antique-dealing, septagenarian friend of mine - familiar with my Master's research on stereographic imagery - kindly lent me his copy of the multi-volume Atlas. Taken by the resemblance of its images of prosection to the scenic landscape stereographs I had been studying, I riffed on the "landscapification" of the cadaver, affect and the porousness of the clinical gaze. The paper is visual, pretentious and weird, and I still love it.
Scenic Views: Representing Modern Visuality in the Stereocopic Landscape (2008)
Should you find yourself with a spare afternoon and a burning desire to dive into the major research project for my MA, have at 'er.
Abstract: Scenic Views explores the relationship between representations of the natural landscape in the nineteenth-century stereoscope and the aesthetic, scientific and socioeconomic discourses which shaped modern visuality. Contending that the scenic content of the stereoscope has not yet been adequately theorized in terms of its three-dimensional experience, the project analyses the imagery of the stereograph as it was radically reconfigured within the space of the stereoscope.
Addressing two specific motifs of the stereo-view - the solitary figure in the landscape and the stereoscopic sublime - the author discusses their engagement with elements of the proto-spectacle, Romantic painting, machine production and a rationalized model of bodily sensation. Both reflective and constitutive of the ways of seeing constructed by modern visuality, the landscape stereo-view articulated an understanding of vision as heterogeneous, unstable and diffuse.
transmitteo ergo sum: an archive and a ghost story (2008)
transmitteo ergo sum (alternate title: ETHR FM) alludes to the early history of radio and the otherworldly space of wireless communication. Listening to messages that were carried by nothing but the air itself, radio was often associated with the supernatural by early audiences. A more precise relationship with death arose from its ability to connect people separated by vast physical distances; one's presence - and by extension, existence - was verified by the transmission of his or her voice. Radio silence could indicate death.
Research into EVP, or electronic voice phenomena, similarly tied the radio to the afterlife; rather than an absence of sound, however, EVP implied a ghostly presence, voices without bodies. Radio was the preferred medium of communication for these 'voice-entities,' who were seemingly at home in the mysterious, etheric ocean of wireless. In performance, transmitteo ergo sum is played through a strewn pile of thrift store radios via an FM transmitter, adding another layer of crackle and an often unpredictable, real-time element (read: is an incredibly high-maintenance installation).
The voices on the recording were supplied by my biddable and generous MA cohort. And yes, archivists: feel free to call out my overly-broad use of 'archive.'
Going waaaay back into the vault, now: work from my visual arts schooling. At the time, I described it as:
A workout for cyborgs; from our artificial hearts to prosthetic limbs, the future is now...and the technologically-enhanced are a lucrative demographic. cybercize features Donna Haraway's cyborg: an ethereal chimera, a fluid body of light. Rather than being liberated from a patriarchal system, however - as Haraway enthusiastically proposed - this cyborg is eternally condemned to the most prosaic of activities. That is, in cyborg slang, performing diagnostic subroutines. The need for maintenance implied by the video and the cumbersome prosthetics evoke the cyclical obsolescence of technology. Unlike its vivid imaginings in both science fiction and academic theory, the (future) reality of the cyborg is quite banal.
Fun fact: the drone-y soundtrack is comprised of manipulated clips from the Tubeway Army's Replicas album. If it's not abundantly clear, I worshipped at the altar of Gary Numan in my formative years.
[ Present ]
'Present' projects are those that I am currently working on (circa March 2018; I'm trying to muster the effort required to bring it up to the now, as these would be more accurately characterized as done & dusted) and possibly the subject of upcoming conference papers (will be listed on my CV if that's the case).
Archival Interfaces in Virtual Reality (ongoing)
'Archival Interfaces in Virtual Reality' explores how VR might enable the development of user-sensitive and differently imagined interfaces to archival materials, while remaining attentive to the possibility of reinscribing existing power dynamics and to the normative values deeply encoded into the technology itself. The project started as an independent research course in my final term of the MAS degree but, of course, I've barely scratched the thin film of the surface of possibilities.
I am using the Unity game development platform to create a series of 'sketches': VR prototypes focused on a discrete task or activity (for example, displaying stereoscopic archives more closely to how they would have been experienced in context). There's a pretty big gap between the the broader, liberatory objectives of the project and the design of the prototypes themselves, owing to a combination of the newness of the form and (mostly) my own lack of expertise in VR. So this project is much closer to its beginning than its end...
Shades of #MAGA (ongoing)
Shades of #MAGA started as a data visualization project for ARST 575H: Information Visualization and Visual Analytics. With the aim of investigating how Trump's "Make America Great Again" slogan is discursively constructed on Twitter, I collected tweets mentioning the #MAGA hashtag over five days in November 2017 and visualized the data using a text analysis tool, Voyant, as well as the social network analysis tool Gephi.
I collected a second set of data in January 2018 and continue to tinker away at it when I get the opportunity. You can read more about the project in the final report for the course, or for a summary of the findings, see the poster I presented at the UBC iSchool Research Day in March 2018.
And if you've noticed that all of the project websites so far have the same basic structure: yep, I recycle design ideas like it's going out of style.
[ Future ]
So much to do, so little time! The 'Future' projects represent research directions in which I'd like to head, but utimately, they're in the germ-of-an-idea phase right now.
Archival Paradata in Practice
At the 2017 Association for Canadian Archivists (ACA) conference, I presented a paper on the potential use of paradata to increase transparency in archival practice. The next phase of my research would be to create a more rigorous theoretical model and to consider how paradata could be practically implemented in the context of an archival user interface. Y'know - one day.
 Rob Fisher, “Donors and Donor Agency: Implications for Private Archives Theory and Practice,” Archivaria 79 (April 29, 2015): 91–119.