The Experimental Archives Symposium


The Experimental Archives Symposium
Visual and Material Culture Research Centre, KSA
Town House Courtyard
26 January 2024

12.30 – 1pm: Sandwiches

Sandwiches in the Muybridge cafe area.

1.10pm: Introduction

Brief introduction by Matt Melia and Stephen Barber.

1.10 – 2pm: James Fenwick (keynote and discussion): Writing about archival waste: ephemera, history and the Stanley Kubrick Archive

Stanley Kubrick Archive is approximately 800 linear metres of shelving in size and consists of hundreds of boxes and thousands of pieces of paper.

User statistics show that researchers favour material that is directly concerned with the life and work of Kubrick: correspondence, scripts, costumes, props, and so on. But the Stanley Kubrick Archive is filled with material that could be considered waste – ephemera or transient items that were never meant to be retained or preserved, but which have ended up in storage in the archive strong room at the University of the Arts London. As such, this kind of material in the Stanley Kubrick Archive—which makes up a large bulk of its structure—is out of place, out of time, and potentially out of use.

In this keynote, Fenwick will focus on material in the Stanley Kubrick Archive that has no obvious immediate use to researchers—the ephemera—to consider how it is contained in the archive, its status as 'rubbish' or 'waste', and in what ways it can be recycled by researchers, including through the act of writing, to give it new meaning and purpose.

The case studies in the talk will include a discussion of the archive's graveyard of unused stationery and storage items, such as rows and rows of empty boxes, to think through the purpose and sustainability of preserving such material. By undertaking such an analysis, Fenwick moves beyond the mythic status of the archive being Kubrick's archive and instead foregrounds the wider cultural value and significance of the collection by using the archive to excavate histories, stories, and ideas beyond a focus on Stanley Kubrick, proving that the Stanley Kubrick Archive doesn't just have to be about Stanley.

2 – 3pm: Panel 1

Seoyoung Kim: Legacy, Museum and Audience: The Collections of Muybridge and Other Historical Figures

Including the Eadweard Muybridge collection at Kingston Museum, this paper concerns the collections associated with historical figures and their legacies. With different case studies, it discusses the presentation of such legacies in different institutional settings and their implications for audience engagement.

Gabriella Daris: When Instruction Becomes Form: Marcel Duchamp to Yoko Ono (& The Task of the Critical Archival Researcher in Ten Instructions)

Archives are historical and social objects that, when reflected critically and objectively, from the historical present, may be activated, cast anew, and institute new social relations and social imaginaries. Based on this delineation, the role archival research plays in changing the social constellation is critical. In this talk, I will set out from a set of instructions: ‘The Task of the Critical Archival Researcher in Ten Instructions'; I will present the conceptual framework of my project and its archival research methodologies that reject dogmatic prescription of givens and inherited standards of orientation; I will make a case for why When Instruction Becomes Form is original and ground-breaking both in respect to the position I am taking when conducting archival research and the way I position my research findings within my project in a legible yet novel constellation of fragments; and, finally, I will argue for a conceptually constructive, critically interpretative, objectively reflected, and historically dialectical framework necessary for an open-ended project, such as mine, that aims to intervene in rather than add to existing scholarship, and consequently offer a new orientation from the standpoint of redemption.

Matthew Richardson: Para-illustration: Gaps, fragments and spaces of the literary imagination.

This practice-based project proposes ‘para-illustration', as a method that explores the gaps, spaces and materiality of a writer's notes, drafts and archives to develop new methods for making literary images. What happens if we use the first, fragmented versions of a fiction as source? How might we account for changes, traces or erasures, or the notes on the back of a shopping list? How might these material ‘incidentals' play a part in the image-making process? Manuscripts of J.G. Ballard, Iris Murdoch and Angela Carter have been used as case studies. Technologies and media, from authorial pen and typewriter, to scanners, databases and image libraries, have been employed in the production of new images, publications and time-based works. These are proposed as translations of the ‘in-process' nature of text-based manuscripts to offer ways for audiences to visually engage with ‘already known' texts and show alternative routes into literary archives. By connecting remnants and marginalia to metaphors and narrative devices of a text, para-illustration is proposed not simply as a supplement or completion of a text in visual form, but as an intervention that reveals a writer's textual traces as an alternative literary landscape.

3 – 3.30pm: Comfort break / coffee

A short break for refreshment.

3.30 – 4.30pm: Panel 2

Maggie Gray: Understanding Comics through Performance (and using comics to animate performance archives)

This paper discusses research in progress working with theatre and performance archives. The project examines what looking at 'cartoon' or 'comic strip theatre' - an approach to performance developed in the alternative theatre movement (1968-1992) - can tell us about cartooning as a visual mode. The process of working on the initial case study of socialist theatre group CAST (Cartoon Archetypical Slogan Theatre) revealed how, reciprocally, cartooning and comics might be used to animate archival records of theatre & performance, drawing from forms of practice-as-research in contemporary comics studies and illustration.

Tre Ventour-Griffiths: Black Lives in the Stix: Caribbean Northants and De-Urbanising Blackness in the Media Archive, 1948-85.

This paper, positions Northamptonshire as site of 'historical production' in the context of post-war Caribbean histories (Trouillot, 1995: 20). Over the past five decades, the British public's historical knowledge of Caribbean communities has been moulded by media preoccupations with Black London – from Horace Ové's 1976 film Pressure through a supposed Black British canon recently including Small Axe (2020). Likewise, in publishing. If most only learn this history through such mechanisms, they are only privy to a London epistemology. This paper juxtaposes Black London on screen with original research done about Caribbean Northants from 1948 to 1985. With the exclusion of many English towns (and even villages that had a Caribbean presence), further to representations of Caribbean life in Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland, the screen as an archive of where Black Caribbean histories are being produced is a scam. This paper juxtaposes Northamptonshire history with cityfied focuses on feature films and genre television, showing there are other stories that need to be told. Rural period dramas are starting to tackle the 'green unpleasant land' (Fowler, 2020) but we need more. These stories trouble the 'official' Black history, such as when my great-grandparents arrived in Northants in 1962 from parish of St John, Grenada.

Corin Depper: The Control of the Universe or the Universe of Control: Warburg, Pound, Godard.

The concept of Pathosformel (pathos-formula) provides the methodological core of Aby Warburg's investigation into the afterlife of antiquity in the art of the Renaissance. For Warburg, it was initially a means of capturing, through the study of pose and gesture, how the representation of high emotional states could be traced across time. However, it became, in his final project The Mnemosyne Atlas (1924-1929), a means of articulating a non-hierarchical and non-linear vision of history. This project, which emerged in the wake of Warburg's psychological collapse during WWI, can be read as both pedagogic aid in the teaching of art history, and as quasi-modernist reconfiguration of historical tropes. This paper explores the connections between Warburg's method in the Mnemosyne Atlas and Ezra Pound's' ideogrammic method of poetic composition in the Pisan Cantos (1945), composed during his incarceration, on charges of treason, at the end of WWII. It draws parallels between Warburg and Pound's approach to history, arguing that both Pathosformel and ideogram are figures that seek to translate the overwhelming nature of experience into a structured and experiential whole, but which nevertheless acknowledge the gaps and contingencies such endeavours entail. This exploration will then culminate in an account of Jean-Luc Godard's deployment of historical montage in his video work the Histoire(s) du cinéma (1988-98), which similarly seeks to control the universe of images by recourse to the techniques of editing, deploying effects of superimposition and cross-cutting which both echo the work of Warburg and Pound in their radical decentring of historical chronology, and connect film history to a wider account of modernist poetics.

4.30pm: End

The event finishes.

Biographical information

James Fenwick

James Fenwick is Associate Professor in Film, Culture, and Media in the Department of Culture and Media at Sheffield Hallam University. He is the author of Stanley Kubrick Produces (2020) and Unproduction Studies and the American Film Industry (2021), editor of Understanding Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey (2018) and co-editor of Shadow Cinema: The Historical and Production Contexts of Unmade Films (2020). He has written numerous book chapters and journal articles on the life and work of Stanley Kubrick. He is a co-founder of the BAFTSS Archives and Archival Methods SIG, founder of the Archives Research Community, an Academic Representative for The National Archives, and a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society. This talk is based on his forthcoming book Archive Histories: An Archaeology of the Stanley Kubrick Archive (forthcoming 2024).

Seoyoung Kim

Seoyoung Kim is currently undertaking PhD research (part-time) at Kingston University, titled 'Eadweard Muybridge: A study of his work and legacy through an inter-institutional evaluation of the Kingston Museum bequest and other collections'. She also works as a freelance curator of art and history. Previously, Seoyoung worked as a conservator for over 12 years for various museums in the UK and USA.

Gabriella Daris

Gabriella Daris is an art and dance historian, art theorist, critic, curator and lecturer. Formerly an art, dance and film critic at Blouin Artinfo and Modern Painters, she publishes broadly across academic and curatorial readership on the intersection between art and philosophy. She is currently completing a philosophy of art doctoral project at the Centre for Research in Modern European Philosophy, Kingston University that investigates critically Yoko Ono's early writings and works of art. She is the convener of the first Yoko Ono international symposium held at the University of Cambridge in 2019, and the curator of the exhibition Yoko Ono: Looking For… (2019). She has held fellowships at Waseda University and the Getty Research Institute, and taught at Yale University, Waseda University, and the University of Belgrade, amongst others. Her research and curatorial projects have been supported by the Getty Foundation; the Henry Moore Foundation; the Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation; the Emily Harvey Foundation; the British Society of Aesthetics; the British Association for Japanese Studies; the Association for Art History, and the British Council.

Matthew Richardson

Matthew Richardson originally studied Graphic Design (BA) at Middlesex University, followed by Illustration (PG) at Central St. Martins, and Fine Art (MA) at UWIC and recently gained a PhD at Kingston School of Art. He has taught at a number of art colleges including UCA Maidstone, Norwich University of the Arts and the RCA. Matthew's work explores the space between digital and physical media. He makes still and moving images, physical and digital assemblages and books and prints. His work has been shown in gallery and museum spaces including Asylum Studios g39, Transition, Outpost and Kingston Museum. Illustration commissions have included projects with the V&A, the British Library, ENO and the Poetry Society.

Maggie Gray

Maggie Gray teaches and researches the history and theory of illustration and animation with a specialism in comics, cartooning, and visual narrative. Her research has been published in peer-reviewed journals and academic books in the fields of Comics Studies and Art & Design History, as well as general-audience publications. Maggie is active in the Comics Studies community and sits on the organising committee of the Comics Forum conference, part of the Thought Bubble festival, and the editorial board of the journal Studies in Comics. Maggie is also a member of the Comics & Performance Network and an associate member of the UAL Comics Research Hub (CoRH!!). She has taught the history of art and design, aesthetics, cultural and contextual studies as an Associate Lecturer at Middlesex University, London College of Communication, Central St. Martins, and University College London. Maggie also co-runs the Kingston School of Art Comic Club.

Tré Ventour-Griffiths

Tré Ventour-Griffiths is an autistic-dyspraxic creative, public historian, sociologist and cultural critic, who speaks and writes on subjects broadly contained within Black British history, neurodiversity, intersectionality, arts and culture (and heritage), and insurgent politics. His doctoral research is about Caribbean Northamptonshire 1948-85 and it aims to show Caribbean experiences of post-war England spread beyond London and other major cities including representations of Blackness in the rural - further, decentring London within epistemologies of the south.

Corin Depper

Corin Depper is a Senior Lecturer in Film in the Department of Critical and Historical Studies as well as course leader for the MA in Film Studies. My teaching encompasses Film Theory, Avant-Garde and Experimental Film, Film Philosophy, as well as inter-disciplinary approaches to film, literature, and the visual arts. Corin is the author of The Dwelt-in Image: Pound & Godard : Towards the Being of Cinema (2003).