I had the idea to release pictures before exhibition of the archive. If the idea is that I want people to know about the archive, having my work solely exhibited in one place doesn’t make sense. But I have also concluded that the George Rodger Archive, kept by George’s wife is also personal and shouldn’t be shared distastefully. This puts me in a difficult position as an author to consider what content I want my viewers to see and how.
With taking this project, I also signed up to a huge responsibility. I have been working with another photographer’s work and not just any photographer, but Magnum co-founder George Rodger. The George Rodger Archive was built and maintained by George and his wife. George Rodger died nearly twenty years ago, leaving his archive in the safe hands of Jinx Rodger. Jinx kept everything- every letter, every diary and every magazine with George in- I actually found three copies of the same magazine in there which is just one indicator of Jinx’s dedication to keeping his legacy alive. Jinx’s relationship to the archive is personal because she helped create it and also because of its content. It would be wrong of me to publicise parts of the archive without careful consideration as to how the audience would receive it.
The nature of physical archives is that they are concealed, and its contents need to be contextualised by the archive they live in. Once information is disseminated on the Internet, it is taken out of its physical form and is vulnerable to be copied from website to website and losing its context. So, releasing images of the archive online really would seem inappropriate. Nevertheless, if images don’t reveal information but captivates audiences to demand to see more, then I would accept that as a success. Information and archives can be shared online and can take many forms, but for what purpose? I want to tease my online audiences so that my physical body of work, like the archive, has more meaning and significance.
I have thought a lot about how I would want these previews to take form. I have considered an iBook, tweeting pictures or releasing videos. I have been looking at the iBook ‘Dear Frank’ by Joel Kantor and it has really made met think about the possibilities that digital books have: being able to incorporate mixed media into a ‘book’. This would be idea for me as I have a lot of audio material as well as some short video clips. It would be a great way to mix the work together. However, considering a narrative takes a lot of time: as with Kantor’s iBook about his relationship with Robert Frank, their relationship unfolds and grows from page to page, which means that there is a solid structure to the book. The George Rodger Archive, however, is not so linear with lots of different media from different time frames about one particular story.
Also taking inspiration from #tweetbyhand, I thought that maybe it would be a good idea to tweet a picture every day of the archive under #GeorgeRodgerArchive. The difficult thing is that one person tweeting one hashtag isn’t an easy feat to get a big audience. But still, I hope that people I have spoken to about this project may see some value in following this twitter conversation and retweet. I am always going to have an issue about getting traction for this project; but if I do, then I would like the traffic to go to my website.With having a website I would have an area for this project so that there is in a sense a digital exhibition. Where the black space is is where there will be a teaser video.
I have decided to make teaser videos to be released weekly from the beginning of May up until the exhibition. 30 seconds in length or so, I want to show a tiny part of the story so that this idea of concealment and mystery is continued.