Joel Kantor and discussing purpose and audience

I have been in an ongoing conversation with Joel Kantor about disseminating archives. When I was speaking to Joel, author of ‘Dear Robert’, he didn’t think that his iBook was really a reflection of an archive. He said that he thought he was taking his resources and making a narrative from it.

“Generally we collect images and they enter a framework, with a particular subject matter, as a result of an “ambition” to report on our collection (which we call a book most often). The book can go into our archive but our archive does not make up our book. It’s some distillation of the archive, or a part thereof…”

He said that he edited the archive always knowing that it was going to be a linear book, which meant that he could add and subtract images for the narrative. “This is where the archive and the book seem to meet but in a subjective manner. In a way a book may be a private and personal extract from one’s archive that also represents the archive. One discards things, overlooks things, accentuates things…”. As the George Rodger Archive is not my archive, I am much more subjective about what I pick and choose for my narrative. The ‘Dear Robert’ iBook has a linear narrative of correspondences with interjections of images and video. However, mine has a mixture of interviews, pictures of prints, prints in situ, diaries and letters; therefore making an understandable narrative arguable isn’t as straight forward. Yet, this is how the archive is: there are several parts to one story and it is interesting getting further into it and finding new, more personal things.

I was talking to him about how I feel some artefacts, such as diaries, which are not orginally digital should perhaps not be shared openly online for any personal comments which perhaps should be kept private. The intention of these diaries was not to ever be shared online, so who has the right to upload it? Joel says “what once was extremely personal may be “nothing” today. So do we go by what once was “personal”. As well the photographer himself often archived things, so he too made selections deciding to preserve for later use and not discard. ” This put a new perspective on my thoughts about audience; but still, the archive is concealed, like many archives. There is a tension between the concealed physical and open digital that makes me feel uncomfortable uploading precious, personal documents online. I respect Jinx’s protective nature of the archive and so would like to highlight the idea that the archive is concealed. Furthermore, I have thought about personal archiving and why we keep diaries; George must have referred back to his writing for a clear mind about the tribes. If the diaries are intended to be a reference, then I that is how I would want to treat them. The purpose is to share the story of the Nuba tribe as told by Jinx with the archive and so its her voice that’s integral to the dissemination.

 “To have someone else so inspired by your work that they’ll build another way of telling the story may also be a notable honor.”

From thinking about Aboringine Australian’s archive which is tailored to suit each user, it has made me think about the differences between offline and online audiences. I’ve made a decision that I want to be careful about what images go online so that the integrity of the archive is intact; moreover, giving an online presence of an archive, without revealing it, should add a desire to see it or find out more. Therefore, I decided to show teasers online until such a point the project is ready to have a bigger online presence. This has meant that I want to have a more informative physical presence with pictures of and from the archive. The physical exhibition, is an individual experience (much like mine in the archive), unlike one delivered to the masses online, so I wanted to include more of the archive and echo to the viewer a sense of searching the archive themselves. The book will follow Jinx’s discussion talking about the archive as the viewer gets ‘deeper’ into it from looking at prints through to diary entries. It is less a narrative about the archive, but Jinx’s narrative of the Nubas, using the archive. This reflects what Joel said about how a book is some ‘distillation of an archive’.

I chose to have a physical book for the reason of having a ‘real’ experience, rather than one which could be accessed at home (vie iBook, for example). There are drawbacks of this however, such as the fact I had to write what Jinx wrote, making the book ‘silent’. To try and overcome this, I have decided to have two audio recordings on MP3 players of Jinx reading a diary entry of the Nubas and the letter George wrote to her from the same time. I am going to be making an iBook, which won’t be in the exhibition, but will feature Jinx’s spoken voice, for a more interactivity and to bring the archive more life. I just feel a project about a physical archive presented digitally in a physical exhibition doesn’t make much sense; hence why I am going to deliver both books, but only one will be in the public eye.

 

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