Open Archive, a partnership between Het Nieuwe Instituut and the Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision, has invited three makers to create a new media work on the basis of the open, online collections of both institutions and to explore the possibilities of digital heritage collections relating to the creative sector, technology and copyright. The three makers spent the first four months finding inspiration through research in the collections, visiting other archival institutions and sparring with external experts.
The three makers, Oana Clitan, Donna Verheijden and Guy Königstein, were selected from an open call for submissions. During the project's kick off, they were introduced to the collections of both institutions, after which they delved deeper into the collections by themselves. Following an exploratory phase of image research via the search portal, they carried out more focussed research behind the scenes of Het Nieuwe Instituut in order to find possible images for their projects. They were especially impressed by the size of the collection and enthusiastic about its artistic quality. They also conducted similar research sessions at the Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision.
Oana, Donna and Guy share their experiences and findings via blog posts on the Open Archive project website. What precisely does it mean to work with an open collection and how do you find your way around the collections? In this respect, the makers were guided during several sessions by external partners: Elki Boerdam, Julia van Mourik, Dirk Vis and Richard Vijgen.
Meetings with the experts
In the meantime, several meetings have taken place. At the end of April, the makers were introduced to Elki Boerdam, who has been active as an image researcher since 2011. Part of her research includes how the meaning of an image changes in a new context. During this first session, the team talked extensively about searching in the open collections. The makers talked about how they had begun their research and which materials they were looking at.
During the second meeting at the end of May, the external expert was Julia van Mourik, director of The One Minutes Foundation and Lost & Found. The One Minutes Foundation produces and distributes one-minute-long artistic films. Maarten Brinkerink, expert in public participation and innovative access at the Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision, led the makers, Julia and the Open Archive through an exploration of the world of copyright using statements such as: ‘just like privacy, copyright doesn’t exist online’, ‘cultural heritage is free for everyone to use’ and ‘everyone is allowed to copy my work’.
At the end of June there was an excursion to the collections centre of the EYE Film Museum. Maarten Zeinstra, a lawyer and specialist in authors’ rights and archives, conducted a session on authors’ rights versus artistic freedom. Mark Paul Meyer, senior curator at EYE, talked about Eye’s artist in residence programme. Irene Heen, EYE’s manager of digital presentation, gave a presentation about Jan Bot, a computer programme that generates short films from archival materials from the early 1920s that relate to trending news items on the internet.
Projects and ideas
The third Open Archive session at the end of June was led by expert Dirk Vis, a writer of fiction, columns, screenplays and essays. During this meeting, Vis guided the makers through the maze that the Open Archive project can sometimes be. No matter how inspiring the material is, sometimes ideas are difficult to visualise. This third session focused mainly on this aspect in relation to each individual project.
Oana is exploring how we perceive technology. Does it frighten us or is it our salvation? She looks at language use and rhetoric in news broadcasts dealing with early forms of automation. The idea is to translate her research into an audio-visual installation that reflects upon the rise of artificial intelligence. She is also intrigued by images with a dystopian atmosphere.
Donna is making a film that cannot be made. Her inspiration is Alfred Hitchcock’s concept of the McGuffin. Donna views the collections of both institutions as a repository of images, audio clips and objects that are employed as characters, sets and props in a speculative thriller. In this way, her films establish connections between the stories and events that are hidden within the collections.
Guy is concerned primarily with his position in relation to cultural institutions such as Het Nieuwe Instituut and the Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision. What does it mean as a foreign artist to make an autonomous work here? How can you appropriate the past? Guy: ‘Mostly through the books, I came across numerous inspiring ways of architects and planners to “deal” with the built past: allowing nature to take over, selective replacement of materials, stripping surfaces to the core, defining (statistic) criteria for destruction or rescue, fencing and monumentalising selected elements, displacing, reuse of discarded materials and temporal approaches.’ In his proposal Con/de/struction, Guy shows an awareness of archives’ social and political roles. The archiving process involves constant forms of exclusion. Within this context, Guy wants to explore spatial strategies within Dutch architecture in which factors such as demolition, re-use, renovation, conversion and camouflage play a role.
Exhibition and symposium
There will be no expert meetings during the next two months. During this period, the makers will focus on shaping their ideas. The Open Archive exhibition will open at Het Nieuwe Instituut on 14 November 2019. A concluding symposium will be held on 28 November 2019, in which the makers and heritage institutions will discuss the creative re-use of heritage collections. The symposium will consist of an expert programme in the How Do You Do format, with the emphasis on the active exchange and sharing of knowledge. The new project page designed by Marius Schwartz and programmer François Girard-Meunier will be launched on 2 September.
Want to be kept up to date? Then visit www.openarchief.com
New Archive Interpretations
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Archive Rath & Doodeheefver by Lernert & Sander
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