session: Re-Imagining the Archive

Day 2 / 10.15 – 12.30 am: Re-Imagining the Archive

The emergence of cloud computing, on-line access to virtually the entire cultural and historical memory of the world, and the proliferation of on-demand print and media-distribution, have made the dividing line between archiving and active cultural production ever thinner. Because the re-use and collaborative on-line production of digital media productions has become so much easier, the ‘archived’ works are no longer simply a memory of the past. Increasingly they become part of an active living production cycle. The difference between a finished work and the source material for a future production has become increasingly blurred. Also, as noted by the Enumerate Survey Report on Digitisation in European Cultural Heritage Institutions estimated that 89% of audiovisual institutions have born digital collections. Of museums of art and history this percentage is a considerably less; 43%.

The function of collections and archives is changed so dramatically by these new conditions that it appears to be called into question altogether. At the same time the new digital media context offers an enormous opportunity for a deeply transformed and much richer relationship of heritage institutions and archives with their audiences. These audiences can now be actively involved in the maintenance, curation, circulation and contextualisation of archived resources. With increasingly unfeathered access via internet the wider public can now actively engage with these archived materials and put them to their own uses – in education, at home, but also professionally.
How can heritage institutions and archives best respond to these new opportunities and challenges? What is the new role of archive professionals as ‘holders and curators of culture’, and simultaneously as the facilitators for their radically enlarged (and demanding) audiences?

Speakers and panels:

Kate Theimer (ArchivesNext) ‘Archives as Platform: Reimagining Our Mission’
Mirko Tobias Schaefer (Utrecht University) – A Critical Perspective on User Participation

Panel Presentations:
Alan Hanjalic (Technical University Delft)
Julia Noordegraaf (University of Amsterdam)
John Ellis (Royal Holloway University London)

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