From flat box to 3D storycube


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From flat box to 3D storycube: photography, youth cultures and counter-archival strategies
Mediated Memories JMP Symposium

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From flat box to 3D storycube

  1. 1. photography, youth cultures and counter-archival strategies<br />a presentation by paula roush<br />london south bank university<br />mediated memories journal of media practice symposium<br />university of sussexjuly 2009<br />
  2. 2. Let’s start with an impulse<br />Hal Foster, An Archival Impulse. 2004<br />
  3. 3. felt by artists in their appropriation of archives,<br />either institutional or informal, to develop practices that challenge and play with<br />the documents and traces of the past. <br />
  4. 4. Interest:<br />Re/activate the archive’s traces<br />so that <br />the past, present and future coalesce in critical configurations. <br />
  5. 5. …<br />the archive as a nexus ofpolitics and repression<br />the document as ideological artefact..<br />
  6. 6. ‘there is no political power without the control of the archive, if not of memory.<br />Effective democratization can always be measured by this essential criterion:<br />the participation in and the access to the archive, its constitution and its interpretation.’<br />Jacques Derrida,“Archive fever” 1996 <br />
  7. 7. “upload/<br />download <br />fever”<br />“Archive fever” <br />
  8. 8. “Archival impulse” <br />“upload/<br />download <br />fever”<br />“Archive fever” <br />“interactive<br />web <br />biographies” <br />
  9. 9.  <br />Once open and accessible, the archive can become a terrain for<br />biographical,<br />fictive and<br />provocative interventions that challenge what was formerly the safe terrain of the historical document. <br />
  10. 10. Cockpit Gallery/Camerawork archive, currently held in the Arts, Media and English Department at the London South Bank University (LSBU). <br />
  11. 11. Designed as travelling exhibitions<br />To be cheaply transported through Red Star post. Initially produced and toured by the Cockpit Gallery they were later transferred to Camerawork’s touring operation in 1987, when the Inner London Education Authority and the Cockpit was dissolved. <br />
  12. 12. Box labeled GS [Girls Subcultures] dated 1981 contains the project ‘Visible Girls’ by Anita Corbin<br />
  13. 13. Anita Corbin, Visible Girls, 1981, 26 images on 13 photo panels,part of the box GS Girls Subcultures, touring exhibition, Camerawork/Cockpit Gallery archives.<br />
  14. 14. Cockpit gallery<br />outreach programme 1978 – 1985<br />Aim: bring conceptually and socially engaged photographic practices to schools, youth groups, community centres and libraries in the London area. <br />
  15. 15. girls posing in pairs sharing a subcultural style <br />
  16. 16. girls posing in their clubs and the streets<br />
  17. 17. captions, written with an alphabet stencil ruler and marker, indicate the girls’ names, and the photos’ dates and locations <br />
  18. 18. As has been the case with other travelling photo exhibitions, which came eventually to be housed in institutions once they ceased to tourthe collection, despite its small-size, comes to be deemed<br />an archive (i.e., a preserved, received, and apparently ordered collection of artefacts or images.) <br />
  19. 19. “By designating seemingly amorphous cultural images an archive, as in the case of the New Negro...I aim to highlight the historical specificity and to underline the unity of its purpose….Together they created a kind of counter-archive, a group of images that by definition occupied a contested cultural space on the margins of offcial archives” <br />Shawn Michelle Smith. Photography on thecolorline: W.E.B. Du Bois, race, and visual culture. 2004. <br />W.E.B. DuBois1900 Georgia Negro photographs<br />
  20. 20. Hence, it is important to consider this context of the archive, to which the particular images have been assimilated, in order to recognise that the photographs contained in the box, are also a counter-archive. <br />
  21. 21. To recognise its contestatory signifying practice in relation to patriarchical bias in the representation of youth cultures…<br />
  22. 22. …and to open up artistic, curatorial and pedagogical spaces where other visual histories and discourses can be recovered and generated. <br />
  23. 23. The Visible Girls box is best understood <br />-in relation to sociological studies of youth in the 1980s<br />- As a reaction to the context of seminal sub-cultural studies then taking place and their focus on male subcultural style <br />
  24. 24. “I have chosen to focus on girls, not because the boys (who where present) were any less stylish, but because girls in subcultures have been largely ignored or when referred to, only as male appendages.”<br />
  25. 25. 3 feminist issues<br /><ul><li>1-patriarchal meanings on subcultural theory
  26. 26. 2-implications of ambiguous sexuality
  27. 27. 3-question of gender and moral panic</li></ul>Angela McRobbie, “Settling accounts with subcultures. a feminist critique 1980.”<br />
  28. 28. Earlier subcultural theory: reliance on the relationship between social class, style and spectacular fashion… <br />post-subcultural studies framework<br />the days “of working class youth sub-cultures ‘heroically’ resisting subordination through ‘semiotic guerrilla warfare,’ are long gone<br /> David Muggleton and Rupert Weinzierl,2003.<br />
  29. 29. ‘tribes’ Michel Maffesoli, 1996<br />‘neo-tribes’ Andy Bennett, 1999 <br />
  30. 30. “global mainstreams and local sub-streams produce new, hybrid cultural constellations.” <br />David Muggleton and Rupert Weinzierl, 2003 <br />
  31. 31. Post-subcultural critique:<br />“studies on youth, to date, have tended to focus on the symbolic, stylistic, apolitical, and local ways that young people respond to their feelings of marginalization and social concerns…<br />
  32. 32. …Moreover, those who study youth resistance have not investigated in any depth the identified link between the rise of Internet communication and the emergence of various (transnational) social movements.”<br />Brian Wilson, “Ethnography,  the Internet,  and Youth Culture: Strategies  for Examining Social <br />Resistance and “Online‐Offline” Relationships.” 2006<br />
  33. 33. in contemporary translocal groupings, technologies may also contribute to the creation of ‘subnetworks’ with the “potential of internet technology to enforce and maintain (sub) cultural boundaries rather than their disintegration”<br />Paul Hodkinson, “&apos;Net.Goth&apos;: Internet Communication and (Sub)Cultural Boundaries.”, 2003<br />
  34. 34. Focus for research on a post-subcultural photography: <br /><ul><li>‘who participates in contemporary youth post-subcultures?’
  35. 35. ‘are girls still invisible and if so how can we articulate this in/visibility in the light of the impact of global networked technologies?’</li></li></ul><li>In the archival process,<br />gaps and erasures occur in the archived materials.<br />The challenge then becomes to ‘(create) ways to bring amnesia and forgetting out into the open’<br />Helen Lorenz, “Amnesia/ Countermemory.” 2004. <br />
  36. 36. This is achieved through the work of<br />‘counter-memory’ or ‘effective history’<br />to deal with &quot;events in terms of their most unique characteristics, their most acute manifestations&quot;<br />Michel Foucault, Language, Counter-Memory, Practice. 1977 <br />
  37. 37. artist-archivists approach the archive as<br />a space of creation and<br />a ‘construction site’ for “alternative knowledge or counter-memory”<br />Hal Foster, An Archival Impulse. 2004<br />
  38. 38. explore the archive as a site for personal research and self discovery<br />Sue Breakell, Perspectives: Negotiating the Archive. 2008 <br />
  39. 39. artists publications offer counter archival strategies and ways of registering the lived and the ‘everyday.’<br />Charles Merewether, Ed. The Archive. 2006<br />
  40. 40. Photobooks as counter-archives<br />
  41. 41. the format of the photobook is suggested as the ultimate virtual archive where exploratory forms of knowledge production combine with the performative, the poetic, and the fictive.<br />
  42. 42. To rethink ‘Visible Girls’ archive in the form of self-published, downloadable photobooks facilitates the entry of counter-archival practices into the realm of networked sociability.<br />
  43. 43. As counter-archival practice the photobook may offer a way to contest dominant representations of youth and subculture. <br />exploration of book art in a self-publishing environment. <br />
  44. 44. ‘Print on demand’ platforms like<br />offer ‘produsage’ environments:<br /><ul><li>-the social features in their software provide opportunities for photographers to publish virtual archives of their immediate practice,
  45. 45. -with opportunities for online collaboration, peer review and feedback via features integrated in the software.</li></ul>paula roush & Ruth Brown,Publishing friends: social publishing networks and learners as produsers. 2009<br />
  46. 46. hybrid research practices<br />‘emergent methods’ <br />often “discovered as a result of modifying more conventional research projects when traditional methods fail to “get at” the aspect of social life the researcher is interested in.”<br />SharleneN. Hesse-Biber and Patricia Leavy.Pushing on the methodological boundaries: The growing need for emergent methods within and across the disciplines. 2008 <br />
  47. 47. Artography<br />“arts and education complement, resist, and echo one another through rhizomatic relations of living inquiry”, using “a politically informed methodology of situations.”<br />Rita Irwin et al.The Rhizomatic Relations of A/r/tography. 2006<br />
  48. 48. “The project involved two different approaches. One; my immediate impressions of the groups in their clubs and pubs or in the street and the second based on interviews with some of the girls in their homes.”<br />Anita Corbin, 1981<br />
  49. 49. “Pop Cosmopolitanism: a blank canvas” by Lee Slaymaker<br />
  50. 50. ‘pop cosmopolitanism’<br />“…the ways that transcultural flows of popular culture inspires new forms of global consciousness and cultural competency”<br />Henry Jenkins. Fans, Bloggers, and Gamers. 2006<br />
  51. 51. Cosplay (or costume play)<br />a contemporary subculture sustained by the rise of Internet and fan fiction.<br />Cosplayers develop their characters based on their favourite film, television and game characters and join web forums to chat about their characters and organise off-line meetings. <br />
  52. 52. The book examines three Cosplay-like characters developed and maintained by a female artist in her everyday.<br />
  53. 53. ah<br />“ ashren was first character I developed…. She could be akin to a faerie…she’s heavily based on my interest in Japanese culture”<br />Lee Slaymaker, The Pop Cosmopolitanist: A Blank Canvas, 2009, photobook, 54 pages, 15.24 cm x 22.86 cm, saddle-stitch binding, full-colour interior ink.<br />
  54. 54. jack’s sex and therefore sexuality is pretty ambiguous..Jack would be my inner-drag-king or prince”<br />Lee Slaymaker, The Pop Cosmopolitanist: A Blank Canvas, 2009, photobook, 54 pages, 15.24 cm x 22.86 cm, saddle-stitch binding, full-colour interior ink.<br />
  55. 55. “ jim is a sort of amalgam of of my favourite fictional characters from film and literature..”<br />Lee Slaymaker, The Pop Cosmopolitanist: A Blank Canvas, 2009, photobook, 54 pages, 15.24 cm x 22.86 cm, saddle-stitch binding, full-colour interior ink.<br />
  56. 56. Alex’s role-play also presents similarities to the ‘Visible Girls’:<br />“the characters she portrays are not technically fictional. They are representations of her different moods and styles. Each character has a well defined background and individual style of clothing, so you are able to ascertain her mood on any one day by the character she chooses to portray. This could be seen as a heavily intricate form of theatrical exhibitionism; however it is very akin to the way that the girls in Corbin’s archive portrayed themselves.”<br />Lee Slaymaker. The Pop Cosmopolitanist: A Blank Canvas, 2009. <br />.<br />
  57. 57. “In real life” by Christopher Kamper<br />
  58. 58. In “In real life”, Christopher Kamper follows off-line three young people that he knew from online chat and discussion boards but had never met in real life:<br />“Ever since reaching their adolescence, the world wide web became the very centre of their social lives”<br />
  59. 59. Philip is an Otaku, a Japanese term used to refer to people with obsessive interests, particularly in anime, manga, and video games)<br />Christopher Kamper, In Real Life, 2008, photobook, 80 pages, 22.86 cm x 17.78 cm, perfect binding, full-colour interior ink<br />
  60. 60. Ming isa Lolita, a Japan-based fashion subculture that is primarily influenced by Victorian children’s clothing as well as costumes from the Rococo period. <br />Christopher Kamper, In Real Life, 2008, photobook, 80 pages, 22.86 cm x 17.78 cm, perfect binding, full-colour interior ink<br />
  61. 61. Cindy is a LARP-gamer. LARP or live action role-play is a form of role-playing game where the participants physically act out their characters’ actions. <br />Christopher Kamper, In Real Life, 2008, photobook, 80 pages, 22.86 cm x 17.78 cm, perfect binding, full-colour interior ink<br />
  62. 62. “When the pin is pulled...”RichardHarley challenges prevailing myths on the causal relationship between online games and off-line violence <br />
  63. 63. Richard Harley, When the pin is pulled...2008, photobook, 20 pages, 22.86 cm x 17.78 cm, saddle-stitch binding, full-colour interior ink. <br />
  64. 64. Being under the surveillance of her own camera is the theme of the mockumentary “Living for the camera” by Jessica Kril.<br />
  65. 65. Jessica Kril, Living for the camera, 2007, photobook, 91 pages, 15.24 cm x 22.86 cm, perfect binding, full-colour interior ink <br />
  66. 66. Queer creative lives are the subject of<br />“Our creative youth” by Robbie Sweeney, <br />“Alternative to ‘subculture’ gone mainstream” by Karel Polt <br />
  67. 67. Robbie Sweeney, Our creative youth, 2008, photobook, 115 pages, 15.24 cm 22.86 cm, casewrap-hardcover binding, full-colour interior ink <br />
  68. 68. Robbie Sweeney, Our creative youth, 2008, photobook, 115 pages, 15.24 cm 22.86 cm, casewrap-hardcover binding, full-colour interior ink <br />
  69. 69. Karel Polt, Alternative to ‘subculture’ gone mainstream, 2007, photobook, 88 pages, 15.24 cm x 22.86 cm, perfect binding, full-colour interior ink <br />
  70. 70. “Twin Subcultures,” Nicola Penfold created a set of double self-portraits that play with masquerade and the duplication of the self via digital manipulation. <br />
  71. 71. Nicola Penfold, Twin subcultures, Inkjet photographic print, 2007<br />
  72. 72. Kate Anthony, Palon Kor, Inkjet photographic print, 2007<br />
  73. 73. SLubcultures<br />Research into subcultures in Second Life<br />continue our reinterpretation of the Box ‘Visible Girls’ within a 3-D immersive virtual world (IVW).<br />find out more about the impact of immersive virtual worlds in the development of post-subcultural practices,<br />the relationship between immersive-online-offline activities and, finally<br /> explore research practices that may emerge from Second Life situations, whilst facilitating collaborative group work and reflective learning.<br />
  74. 74. There are parallels between emergent Second Life ‘griefer’ subcultures (those engaged in the act of causing persistent grief to other members of the online community, intentionally disrupting their immersion in the game play) and punk’s vernacular creativity in Real Life.<br />Burcu Bakioglu. Spectacular subcultures of Second Life: Looking beneath the lulz. 2008<br />
  75. 75. the challenge of ethnography in Second Life lies in ncapturing the flow of daily life;<br />the way its residents go about re/creating their cultural practices in a virtual world.<br />Tom Boellstorff. Coming of age in Second Life: An anthropologist explores the virtually human. 2008 <br />
  76. 76. SL-tivities<br />Second Life based learning activities<br />Used to structure group work and facilitate a mixture of individual and collaborative tasks <br />
  77. 77. Researchingpost-subcultures in Second Life: entering the Media Zoo (Leicester University) where initial in-world training takes place<br />
  78. 78. SL-tivity 1 (week 1)<br /> Snapshot Tools in Second Life <br />Purpose: to introduce participants to the<br />basic use of the snapshot tool and photo<br />graphyas a social practice in Second Life.<br />
  79. 79. SL-tivity 2 (week 2)<br />Virtual StoryCubes <br />Purpose: apply the snapshots as textures to 3d story cubes and developing a group narrative out of each researcher’s images<br />
  80. 80. SL-tivity 3 (week 3) Explorations<br />Purpose: to further explore and debate the wider potential of 3-D IVWs for digital media and digital photography in relation to research into youth cultures and subcultures<br />
  81. 81. Second Life is characterised by the creative collaboration of its residents.<br />One of the most visible outputs is their appearance and built environment, constituting a collective work of art that provides a prolific site to extend our previous work with photography and subcultures. <br />
  82. 82. “Is every location in Second Life related to a specific subculture? <br />Or, are we taking Second Life as a subculture in itself?<br />Or alternatively, is there anything like a mainstream culture in Second Life?”<br />
  83. 83. “Is every location in Second Life related to a specific subculture? <br />Or, are we taking Second Life as a subculture in itself?<br />Or alternatively, is there anything like a mainstream culture in Second Life?”<br />
  84. 84. As non-conclusion<br />
  85. 85. The work developed in response to the Box GS is a contribution to contemporary research on the meaning of archives for current artistic, educational and curatorial practices.<br />
  86. 86. “The documents of an exhibition should not be thought of as a dead mass of deactivated records or a closed history no longer of use. Even though they are the vestiges of past activities, exhibition archives can remain active resources for curators, artists, students and researchers involved in exhibition projects to come.”<br />Barbara Vanderlinden, The archive everywhere. 2006 <br />
  87. 87. Today, the read/write web represents an open classroom for our student photography researchers to interrogate institutional archives and publish their enquiries.<br />
  88. 88. The photographic series and books developed in response to the historical exhibition ‘Visible Girls’ are part of a counter-archival strategy, achieved through an engagement with situated counter-narratives.<br />
  89. 89. The self-publishing practices that occurred, mediated as they were by the social software that facilitates participation, allowed the projects to be constantly edited and revised, further delaying any ready archivisation.<br />
  90. 90. Additionally, with the introduction of Second Life as a learning environment, there is the potential of immersive social worlds for researching into the online-offline nature of contemporary youth cultures. <br />
  91. 91. Thank you!<br />