How do we use curation to tell stories?
“The world is full of objects, more or less interesting; I do not wish to add any more.”
Douglas Huebler, 1969
We’re swimming in data. The relentless production of digital material has shifted us into a new condition where the foundation of graphic design — image and language — cannot exist without somehow touching (or being touched by) the internet. Massive archives, from digitized libraries to the quantified self, are part of the new landscape that artists and designers rely on for the production and communication of networked culture. In the face of this overwhelming accumulation of found stuff, curation is key. In this unit, we’ll look at how archives, collections and curation can be used to investigate memory, authorship and storytelling.
Studio 1: Surf / search
Search for an archive or collection. Look for existing photos, text messages, spam, novels, selfies, paintings, tweets, data, recipes, paint colors, stories, purple things, pyramidal things, dreams, code, books, artworks, status updates — anything. The only criteria is that the material interests you, and that you feel compelled to share it. Develop a point-of-view about the material.
Present your point-of-view and an in-depth analysis of your collection in one week. Include as many metrics as possible (quantity, taxonomy, authorship, timeline, etc.) and at least three concepts embedded in your collection that suggest larger stories.
Due Wednesday 9/16.
Studios 2 – 5: Compile / document
You will document your collection in at least two different ways and present your documentation. Consider your options — do you print it out? photograph it? scan it? bind it? how else can you record it? How do different techniques of documentation and reproduction change the nature of the material?
Curate / translate
Curation *always* involves interpretation and translation. Edit your collection (in multiple ways) to shape a range of new meanings.
Storytelling / publish
Design a way to communicate and publish your work — make it public.
Studio 6: Final critique (Wednesday 9/30) Suggested readings
Hito Steyerl, Too Much World: Is the Internet Dead?
Clement Valla, The Universal Texture
Archives of Memory
Gerhard Richter’s “Atlas”: The Anomic Archive
Cornell University’s site devoted to Aby Warburg’s Mnemosyne Atlas
Walter Benjamin, Unpacking My Library
Walter Benjamin, The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction
September 14 lecture (PDF)
September 21 lecture (PDF)