Removing Digital Dust

“You can document it but you can’t capture it.”

As good a place as any to start this week is with “The 21st Century Library” by Terry which can be linked in to my blog post from a couple of weeks back. This piece had to do with the design process of the Rhode Island School of Designs library. While only so much of a picture can be built from the description a converted old protected bank building in to a library it still lets the imagination run. Going beyond the actual process of design, the real point is how you adapt the library to fit the need. In order to do that you must first understand the need and that was the most important part of this story for me. All the planning and meetings, the endless consultations with staff students and stakeholders in order to create this wonderfully functioning space that went on to inspire other builds and win awards.
dust
The next two pieces explain my tag line. Firstly the heritage outlook which looks at cataloguing images from the Kilkenny Design Workshops (KDW) which ran from the 60’s until the late 80’s. The second was the MacMahon document review which can’t be linked a long with the others at the end of this blog due to access only being made through UCD on this occasion. This newspaper piece looked at an exhibition which was held by NIVAL, which documents events’, exhibitions, artistic displays or whatever term you feel would be most suitable. “You can document it but you can’t capture it.” This comes from a point made in the review that while you can document an event, the date, the artist, where, what and when you can never quite capture the feeling of being there in person. This point resonated with me. While there are obvious reasons to document and archive such events the question remains how much are you losing out on and in turn what are we really gaining. The KDW archive which falls under the NIVAL umbrella also poises the same question. It allows you to look in the past but only through a key hole of a door that can’t fully be opened. It is so important however to hold on to these events of the past and as alluded to when people need to study them for whatever range of reasons if they can get their hands on original documents and a wealth of information to go along with it then it is a pretty good second best to being there in person and getting to experience it for yourself.

The final reading I did this week was the Tate Library Electronic ephemera. The collection of digital material in email format ranging from newsletter to promotional materials for artists, charities, events and beyond. A step too far in my opinion perhaps. The work that it takes to manage such a repository surely outweighs it benefits but who am I to draw a line in the sand and say as much. However it did bring up the copyright and storage issues which sometimes are wrongly overlooked in such cases. A particular favourite line of mine was the digital collection gathering dust which it can do if it is abandoned to a PDF file never to be looked after or at again. While this article highlighted the more or less failure of this project it did lay down the foundations for future work should someone take up the mantle. I don’t however think it will be me.

Resources:

Terry 21st century library

Callaghan tate ephemera 2013

Walker heritage outlook 2011

MacMahon document review 2012

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