BUILDING A BETTER WORLD FINISHING EVENTS

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Last week marked the end of the Building a Better World Exhibition in the Elaine Thomas Library at UCA Farnham campus. An event was held on Thursday 3rd November bringing together students who took part in Stefan Szczelkun’s creative residency with bookRoom around the Working Press Archive, books by and about working class artists 1986-1996 which is housed in the UCA Archive. Stefan hosted Agit Disco in which he played records which have inspired and influenced him politically. Students were invited to bring records to the event which had inspired them politically and to explain the reasons for their choice of track.

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In addition bookRoom took part in London’s annual Small Publishers Fair on Friday 4th and Saturday 5th November to launch the bookRoom publication RISE WITH YOUR CLASS NOT FROM IT. Details about the publication can be found here.

 

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Building A Better World Exhibition

We are excited to announce the start of the Building A Better World Exhibition today 22nd September – 6th November 2016 in the Elaine Thomas Library, UCA Farnham.

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Back in May 2016 the Archive collaborated with bookRoom on the creative residency of Stefan Szczelkun, creator of the Working Press, books by and about Working Class Artists, 1986-1996 whose archive is housed within UCA Archive and Special Collections.  This exhibition brings together the work of students in response to that creative residency.

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Democracy In The Kitchen, Annie Haggarty and Elodie Duncan-Duplain

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Story, Oriyomi Oladunjoye

The exhibition includes photographs, collages, videos and performance produced by students who explored identity, politics (class, gender, diversity, disability) from personal, historical and current perspective under the guidance of Stefan Szczelkun, archivist Rebekah Taylor and curator of the project Emmanuelle Waeckerlé.

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5 Blog Posts, Susan Merrick

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The exhibition includes books and pamphlets from the Working Press Archive which inspired the students work and a new bookRoom press publication “Rise With Your Class, Not From It.”

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We hope to see you at the exhibition soon.

Carryl Church, Assistant Archivist

Building a Better World Creative Residency-Student Statements

The Building a Better World Creative Residency, has artist in residence Stefan Szczelkun at the fore, creator of the Working Press Archive. The residency is to explore the Working Press archive, books by and about working class artists, 1986-1996, and respond to the collection artistically. The Working Press, which contains correspondence, conference material, publicity, the published book collection (some annotated) and pamphlets and zines collected by Stefan, looks at  difficulties of marginalized groups being published, funding difficulties, and intersectionalities between class, gender, race, nationality and disability. The archive also questions what class actually is-what makes someone working class?

You can find an introduction to the archive is here

Below are examples of some student statements. Interviews from Susan and Tom are available here
Tom Ridgway, BA photography,Year1, inspired by a leaflet related to disability representation. In Class, Culture and Identity conference file
Archive Project : Mail Art asking for an image from childhood to subject
s to gain access to their stories and build an exhibiton.
Poor Dear [leaflet relating to disability],  a leaflet in the working press archive (WPA) was the trigger for my idea. Which developed through looking at reports about the͞
Life Beyond The Label exhibition (Colchester castle 2007-8) [looking at disability representation] into my exhibition of how we choose to represent our own identity by looking at childhood memories and upbringing, provided by people in response to a mail art request to a shortquestionnaire. This collection that I have gathered results into a display of prints with text as well as the combination of a book including documents and information gathered and collected from the subjects. The WPA is a truly amazing collection and has really inspired me with my own work. The extent and broad paths that things can be gathered from is mesmerising and it truly has confirmed the path I want to follow as my career [Archivist].
Tom GIF
Susan Merrick, MA Fine Art. Using the annotated Conspiracy of Good Taste book, and inspired by the themes of identity, language and power

During this residency I am responding to the Working Press archive as a whole. The substance of the archive is for me as important as the premise for it. I am considering some of the themes and issues raised by the artists who worked with and were represented by the Press and how we see these themes and issues today over twenty years later.

The main themes I am considering are Identity, Language and Power and the mediums I am choosing to use are photography and location specific performances.

Initially I am using a Facebook blog and Instagram to disseminate my photographs and my thoughts on the themes. I have created a gif for The Conspiracy of Good Taste and I am sending out two pieces of mail art as a live exhibition and will also show the pieces that I receive in return as part of the exhibition. I will also be using one of the photographs from my blog to create a life size cut out of myself as an installation piece reflecting the culmination of my residency. This piece will be used for the exhibition but I would also like to place it in some significant locations (probably in London) and photograph these. This will be a continuing work for me.

Reactivating the Working Press archives has in turn reactivated my own sense of identity and my acknowledgment of being a working class woman artist. There is much to discuss on the issue of class; relevance, fluidity, identification or stigma, limitations and freedom. But as any artist (in my opinion) needs to consider their own perceptions and where these come from, owning your own identity is a huge part of this. Twenty years on the Working Press has a great deal to offer artistically, academically and historically and the considerations of the writers in this Press need to be disseminated much further, especially in relation to Building a Better World.

Iana Mizguina, Photography , inspired by a pamphlet, Random Access Memory Raids
I GIf
My project is based on working with a ‘Random Access Memory Raids’ pamphlet found in Working Press archive. This is an agitational left wing booklet made by Conscious Collective in early 90s. My work would contain quotes and phrases from this pamphlet, as I find most of the messages still relevant nowadays. Text will be used as a part of collage, that will also include random screenshots made on my phone. Final images will be modified in Photoshop and replicate visual content that can be seen on any mobile phone screen. Images will be disturbed by certain phrases from the booklet, replacing original meaning with another. Final stream of images will be displayed as a digital slideshow and represent the on going search for truth. Also work will include QR code taking viewers to a link where images can be seen and possibly edited
Catinca Malaimare, Fine Art, inspired by Class, Myths and Culture book (published by Working Press)
In the work produced in response to the Working Press Archive I am referencing the illusion of glamour and the self-scrutiny it attracts as presented in 52 Glamour Cards (Class, Myths and Culture). Glamour is a form of visual persuasion, it is cultural and thus,
deceptive. Glamour, as visual activity, forces the eye into a compliant gaze constructed by repetition and the absence of it leaves the eye without purpose, forced into chaotic repetition.

Katharina Becker, Photography, inspired by Postcards from Poland

(published by Working Press)

Response to: Postcards from Poland by MARIA JASTRZEBSKA and JOLA SCINCINSKA

Kat

Your visual/conceptual strategy: Combining some bits of the text from the book ‘Postcards from Poland’ with images of Palestine and the current situation of occupation. Uncommented comparison between the two, how the texts strangely fits with the situation in Palestine (images). -> Text and Image

Display and dissemination strategy: Haven’t really decided on a way of presentation, I still have to experiment with different presentation types. I might print the images as postcards and put bits of the text on the back. I would also find it interesting to hear someone reading the text.

Your impressions, opinion and reaction to the Working Press Archive: I have never worked with an archive before, so it was very interesting for me to look through all the documents and to get access to a lot of different stories and opinions. It is a very sensitive and considered way of working. Making something new with something that is already there and to respond to it. Combining different opinions and perspectives.  Especially the book ‘Postcards from Poland’ which I am referring to in my project, really inspired me in many ways. It reminded me of my own family history and made me also think of the current situation in Palestine. It will be interesting to see how everyone activated or responded to the Working Press Archive. And the fact that it will grow even more through this workshop is amazing.

Yomi, Illustration

Posters from the anticopyright Flyposter book from the archives, which I used as a visual resource,inspires the image on the t-shirts.

When I was working on Creative Writing for my illustration I was looking a
t different film genres with the visual scenery from Classic film from the 1950s.
People may assume the solder is a man but I have used a silhouette, which could be
any gender or nationality.The solitary word “story” invites the viewer to decide what the image actually means.
Annie and Elodie, Photography
Inspired from records from the Class, Culture and Identity conference, related to middle class, working class mothers, they produced a performance piece, related to multiple identities
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 Rebekah Taylor, Archivist & Special Collections Officer

Building a Better World – Day 4, 5, 6

The Building a Better World Creative Residency, has artist in residence Stefan Szczelkun at the fore, creator of the Working Press Archive. The residency is to explore the Working Press archive, books by and about working class artists, 1986-1996, and respond to the collection artistically. The Working Press, which contains correspondence, conference material, publicity, the published book collection (some annotated) and pamphlets and zines collected by Stefan, looks at  difficulties of marginalized groups being published, funding difficulties, and intersectionalities between class, gender, race, nationality and disability. The archive also questions what class actually is-what makes someone working class?

You can find an introduction to the archive is here

The last three days of the residency involved further research, in terms of which part of the archive students were responding to. It also involved, where relevant, the digitisation of the item. Students were introduced to the UCA Digitisation Unit, and scanning equipment  for archival material.

Stefan also undertook a short talk, highlighting the relevancy of class today, and drawing attention to different articles, such as the BBC article ‘Construction workers win payouts for “blacklisting”‘ and articles relating to boarding schools and leaders. Relevant music related to class can be heard here

Students also undertook a GIF workshop with one of the participants, looking at how to bring the archive and their work to life
This included an animated GIF by Fine Art student Susan Merrick of Stefan’s book
Susan GIF

 

Students have now produced work, and/or and are on the way to producing work

Two of the students videos about the creative residency are available here

Tom screenshot

Results of the project mean:

  • Students now have explored ways of using art within the archives, and have work to showcase for their CV
  • Learned about different ways to present work GIFs
  • As a result of the project the archives have 2 volunteers, one of which is interested in becoming an archivist
  • Students have learned more about aspects of class and activism, and explored how understanding of the past can contribute to the present

Next steps include:

  • Creating a pamphlet, including quotes from the students
  • Developing an exhibition of the work

 

Rebekah Taylor, Archivist & Special Collections Officer

Building a Better World – Day 2 and 3

The Building a Better World Creative Residency, has artist in residence Stefan Szczelkun at the fore, creator of the Working Press Archive. The residency is to explore the Working Press archive, books by and about working class artists, 1986-1996, and respond to the collection artistically. The Working Press, which contains correspondence, conference material, publicity, the published book collection (some annotated) and pamphlets and zines collected by Stefan, looks at  difficulties of marginalized groups being published, funding difficulties, and intersectionalities between class, gender, race, nationality and disability. The archive also questions what class actually is-what makes someone working class?

An introduction to the Working Press archive is available here

 

The two days involved artists Stefan, and David Moore. It included finding  about the participants, and any previous experience with archives they may have had. It included introducing participants to the Working Press, including showcasing the Working Press publications, which is on the library catalogue, which also included an annotated book, The Conspiracy of Good Taste. The unpublished material, such as letters, conference material, posters, can be accessed on the archive catalogue

Items that I drew to participants attention included records from the Culture, Class and Identity conference, and correspondence, and mail art,  from the collection. I also highlighted a selection of zines and pamphlets donated by Stefan collected at the same time as the Working Press.

Ideas included developing projects based on the idea of class and identity, and what being working class actually means – is it a question of financial means? Questions also included what does being a working class artist mean? Other ideas included directly adapting posters relating to a political message, and also developing the idea of mail art. One student, Susan Merrick, from Fine Art has started a blog, looking at charity shopping and class

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We are looking forward to see what the students produce!

Creative residency

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Rebekah Taylor, Archivist & Special Collections Officer

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Building a Better World – Artist in Residence, Day 1

The Creative Residency or Artist in Residency, is an initiative s internally funded by the University for the Creative Arts, and initiated by bookRoom, With Emmanuelle Waeckerle  and Rebekah Taylor .  Building a Better World, involves artist Stefan Szczelkun,as the artist in residence, and the Working Press archive, books by and about working class artists, 1986-1996. Stefan, who is the co-founder of the working press, leads workshops along with lecturers ( Emmanuelle Waeckerle  , David Moore, Ellen Nolan), and the archivists (Rebekah Taylor, Carryl Church). Students interact with the Working Press archive, books by and about working class artists, discuss themes within the collections, and with tutorials from lecturers, produce artwork in inspiration to the collection. Work produced will be added to the archive, and made available on UCA’s Image Bank.

The first part of the Creative Residency was a study day, involving artists that have worked with archives, including Peter Kennard. Discussed by our Assistant Archivist, Carryl Church… (you can also find a review on bookRoom’s website)

A video introduction to the Working Press archive is available here

Last week I had the pleasure of filming the Creative Residency day “Building a Better World” and listening to some very inspiring talks from artists and archivists in relation to how archive material can inspire creativity.

Peter Kennard: Peter Kennard is a photomontage artist and Senior Research Reader in Photography, Art and the Public Domain at the Royal College of Art. He began his career as a painter but realised the medium of photomontage could be more effective in getting his art out into the world at street level. His most famous photo montage is Haywain with Cruise Missiles created in 1980 in response to the rising tensions around the cold war. He has created work for organisations such as Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament and Amnesty International. His talk gave us a fascinating insight into his work as a means of political protest culminating in his current exhibition at the Imperial War Museum Peter Kennard: Unofficial War Artist.

 

Peter Kennard

Stefan Szczelkun: Stefan works on the MA in Visual Culture at the University of Westminster. Stefan’s interest in publishing led him to set up “Working Press, books by and about working class artists” a fascinating collection of books, pamphlets and zines published between 1986 and 1996 which we hold in the UCA archives. Stefan talked about his work both with the Working Press and his interest in multimedia, digital video and cinema. He also talked about a collaborative project called AgitDisco, a multimedia project which he devised and co-ordinated made up of CDs of playlists of protest music chosen by friends and associates. A book of the playlists was published in 2011. Stefan is the Artist in Residence for this creative residency and it is material from the Working Press Archive which will be used to inspire students to produce their own creative response.

Stefan

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Rebekah Taylor: Our very own Archivist and Special Collections Officer took us through the definitions of an archive, gave us an insight and examples into the Working Press Archive and talked about how archives can play a central role in the inspiration and creation of artists work.

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David Moore: The Archive and autonomy: David Moore is a London based photographer and lecturer at UCA. His talk focused on his book published in 2013 “Pictures from the Real World” which was in relation to the work he produced for his degree show 25 years earlier. This approach to that archive has led on to other work. His interest is in an approach to the archive and how it can be effective in a variety of institutional ways and understood within a political context. An archive of work being resurrected and how the forces of politics and technology can alter ones reading of the original work. A reinterpreting of the archive.

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Ellen Nolan: Ellen is Lecturer in Photography at UCA. She talked about her experiences working with her Great Aunt Nita’s archive. Nita was signed to Paramount Pictures in 1933. Her archive brings together two interesting perspectives, photographs shot by her mother from early childhood through adulthood and film and publicity material from Paramount Pictures. The archive also includes personal correspondence and diaries. Ellen talked through material from the collection.

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Overall a fascinating insight into different perspectives of how archives can inspire and influence new works of art.

Carryl Church

Assistant Archivist

Artist in residence – Canterbury

Faith Cannon, graduate in Fine Art from Canterbury, is going to be our artist in residence in the archives. Here’s her work in her own words:

Faith Cannon -BA Fine Art

Previous use of archives- Maidstone UCA Campus

Previous use of archives- Maidstone UCA Campus

Previous use of archives- Maidstone UCA Campus

Previous use of archives- Maidstone UCA Campus

Previous use of archives- Maidstone UCA Campus

Previous use of archives- Maidstone UCA Campus

Previous use of archives- Maidstone UCA Campus

Previous use of archives- Maidstone UCA Campus

A little about me- I have just graduated from UCA after studying part time for 6 years at Canterbury and my foundation year was at Maidstone Campus.

My artistic practice is drawn from the theory of experiential learning and the use of recycled materials which hold their own unique footprints. These connections to the past functions and history behind the materials, inspires my practice to further their existence through process and manipulation. I use varied media to create new art work; I incorporate my own past work and ideas to then create something new and contemporary.

Why I want to promote the use of the archives!

On finishing my degree I was reviewing areas that I wanted to develop my artistic practice further. I had used the archives previously in my work and collaborated with fellow artists to form an exhibition at UCA Maidstone as part of our studio work. So I decided to contact Rebekah Taylor to see if I could aid and promote the use of the archives as a resource for students at UCA. Rebekah was very enthusiastic and we came up with initial areas of focus with digitalisation of some of the archives from Canterbury past degree shows. This will allow students visual access to past artworks, presentation, curator practice, artist statements which could aid them in their own studies. We also want to promote the development of new work from these artefacts’ in a contemporary way. To do this I intend to collaborate with other artist. So watch this space!

Degree show 2015 Herbert Read Galley

Degree show 2015 Herbert Read Galley

Degree show 2015 Herbert Read Galley

Degree show 2015 Herbert Read Galley

RESIDENCY AT THE UCA ANIMATION ARCHIVE – DAY 5

Sadly, all good things must come to an end.  This is the last of my daily posts from my Creative Residency at UCA Farnham, and marks the end of a fantastic week.  My one regret is that I’m not able to stay here longer, but all is not lost – Rebekah and I are already talking about ways in which we can continue to collaborate in the future. Today I’ve been trying to wrap up the last few things that I had on my list to do this week.  This morning I wrote a transcript for a ten minute screencast on Wunderkammern and collecting, which I then recorded this afternoon.  The end product should be on the UCA archive blog at some point; it’s a highly condensed version of some of the issues I talked with students about on Monday and Wednesday, and will hopefully get students thinking about their own motivations for collecting.  Asides from that, I’ve been finishing off my blog posts and cataloguing, and saying my goodbyes.  How sad.

This week has absolutely FLOWN by.  As I didn’t have the time in the end to record more screencasts, I’ve decided to complete another one or two this weekend (I’ve got lots of ideas and need to commit some to mp4 before they vanish!)  Rebekah’s keen for me to come back up at some point in the not-too-distant-future, too, so hopefully there’ll be an opportunity for me to help her with a bit more cataloguing then as well.  It’s also great to know that I can come back here in the future to conduct my own research.  There are already a few things I’ve earmarked (Fatty Doggy, don’t worry – you’re first on the list).

I’ve had a wonderful time here in the archive this week – indeed, here at UCA.  Rebekah is a fantastic, passionate archivist, and I’ve been able to learn a lot from her.  We’ve also had heaps of fun working together – I’ve been totally spoilt with cake and laughter – and I’m sure we definitely going to keep in close contact with one another going forwards.  So, thanks so much for having me, Rebekah.

I’ve been made to feel so welcome by every single person that I’ve been introduced to, and I feel as though I’ve learnt and achieved so much over the course of this one week (why can’t every week be this productive, eh?)  So, yeah, it’s definitely been a Good Thing to Get Involved With and I feel very lucky indeed.

And with that, I think I’ll be off for my farewell drink and my last goodbyes.

Bye UCA, bye lovely archive, and hope to see you soon!

Sonia

Rebekah and I taking a 'shelfie'.  Good times!

Rebekah and I taking a ‘shelfie’. Good times!

RESIDENCY AT THE UCA ANIMATION ARCHIVE – DAY 4

Today’s been a slightly more leisurely day, with opportunities to talk one-on-one with lots of other people here at UCA.  This morning I’d arranged a long tutorial with an animation undergraduate student who is very interested in Švankmajer and Surrealism. It’s always so rewarding to be able to talk to students about shared interests, and as there is so much material on Švankmajer that is obscure or hard to find, I was able to pass a fair bit of information on.

As I was holding the tutorial in a reading room in the library, I also had the privilege of meeting the lovely teams at the Digitisation Unit, the Centre for Digitisation Scholarship and the library front desk.  I’m still extremely envious of the A0 flatbed scanner in the Digitisation Unit.  My own methods of documenting some of the rare books I have at home are embarrassing, to say the least (an A4 scanner and an odd home-made contraption to hold fragile materials in a position that doesn’t damage their spines as they are being copied, followed by swaddling in mountains of acid-free tissue paper).

Rebekah then ran another really useful session on archiving with another group of MA students in the archive.  It was great to be able to get material out of boxes to show them; it’s always so much more vivid and tactile up close (particularly when it comes to cels).

This afternoon we had a few people pop into the archive with requests, including a couple of members of staff.  Hearing about the ways in which archival material is being incorporated into teaching here at Farnham provided a lot of food for thought…and also got me thinking more about the ways in which I’ve been incorporating archival material into my PhD research.  Over the course of my studies, it’s become increasingly important to me that I delve into ephemera and archival material produced by the Quay brothers and Jan Švankmajer.  I say ‘ephemera and archival material’, but I find those distinctions can be rather problematic when researching the artists.  Švankmajer and the Quays are ardent collectors themselves, with their collections (and the psychology of collecting) providing inspiration and even a methodology during the creative process.  Moreover, the Quays’ MoMA NY retrospective (for example) saw scripts, tapes, and even beer mats exhibited alongside more ‘conventional’ works, and some of the former were incredibly creative (and useful) in their own right.  As a researcher, it seems appropriate – at times, absolutely necessary – that I approach their work in an interdisciplinary, holistic (and painstakingly thorough!) manner.  This is not to say that distinctions between high and low culture aren’t important to a certain extent; if anything, my practice as a researcher has cast them into even sharper relief, even if I then contest them.  I’ve also realised that the approach is always potentially at risk of morphing into a contentious ‘anything and everything goes’, so I’m having to guard against conflations and misplaced emphases at every turn!  A fraught, but ultimately rewarding, process.

In short: archives are worthwhile, and worth a visit.  And, of course, that’s what brought me here in the first place…

RESIDENCY AT THE UCA ANIMATION ARCHIVE – DAY 3

Can I pretend that today is Wednesday, please?  If it were, then this post wouldn’t be a day late…and I’ve still have two-and-a-bit days left of Lovely Archive Time to go…

Sigh.  Wordpress says ‘no’, and apparently is going to publish today’s date at the top of this post just to spite me.  Wordpress and I are not on fantastic terms right now after it sent a large chunk of my previous post to the Great Recycle Bin in the sky.

So, yesterday’s news, today (You Heard it Here First).

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The very first known pictorial representation of a Wunderkammer, belonging to Ferrante Imperato (published in 1599)

Wednesday was busy, busy, too.  I spent both the morning and the afternoon working with Film and Media MA students (Journalism, Animation, Documentary Filmmaking, Filmmaking, Photography…the list goes on!)  I really enjoyed teaching a group of creative individuals that spanned such a wide variety of disciplines, as everyone could bring something different to group discussions.

I began the morning’s session with a second talk about Wunderkammern (Cabinets of Curiosity).  I find the history of Wunderkammern fascinating (a history that of course interlinked with Rudolfine Mannerism, Alchemy, the expansion of Renaissance Trade routes, major shifts in the production and classification of knowledge, the carnivalesque…and lots of other interesting areas), and so many of the objects that were originally housed in collections of the 16th and 17th centuries still seem contemporary.  Take Giuseppe Arcimboldo’s Vertumnus, which was painted in 1590-91 for Rudolf II – Holy Roman Emperor and curiosity collector extraordinaire:

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Incredible.

I then moved sideways from Wunderkammern (and, specifically, Rudolfine Prague), to Jan Švankmajer, an artist who has created his own extensive Wunderkammer in his house at Horni Stankov (inspired by Rudolf II), as well as numerous pieces that refer directly to alchemy and the transmutation of base matter.

The homunculus in the alchemist's laboratory.  Still from Faust, 1994

The homunculus in the alchemist’s laboratory. Film still from Faust, 1994

As a group we then began to examine the psychology of collecting, and collecting as methodology (both within the work of artists like Švankmajer, and in relation to new media).  So many interesting anecdotes and points of discussion emerged!  The afternoon also included great presentations by Yuwei (on digital culture and collecting), and by Rebekah Taylor (on creative archiving methods, cataloguing, and collecting).

Last, but not least, we finished the day by introducing students to the lovely animation archive itself.  It sounded though it might prove very useful to some students further down the line, so watch this space!

In the evening I screened Švankmajer’s latest feature film, Surviving Life (Theory and Practice) (2010) in The Glasshouse, at the student union.  It was great to see familiar faces from both my BA and MA classes, and was also a bit of a treat to be able to sit in a comfy, worn tub chair to watch the film again on the big screen.

Oh, to have my own home cinema…