Last year I was privileged to collaborate with fellow PhD students and archaeologists Joana Valdez-Tullett, Helen Chittock, Grant Cox, Eleonora Gandolfi and Emilia Mataix Ferrándiz to run the inaugural Sightations exhibition: an art/digital/film showcase at the Theoretical Archaeology Group Conference 2016. The gallery’s aim was to unpack what it meant to represent archaeology visually in 2016, in keeping with the wider TAG conference theme. By juxtaposing traditional art forms (such as drawings, photography, painting, sculpture, textiles, ceramic, and more) with digital approaches to representation (digital media, CGI, film, video, gaming, virtual reality, cross- or multi-platform works), Sightations aimed to reveal new links between different disciplines, industries and sectors of archaeology with an eye towards future directions for archaeological visualizations.
In tandem with the exhibition we also ran conference sessions within the gallery space – an opportunity for some of our contributors to be able to discuss their works in greater depth – and I’m delighted to say that some of these presentations can now be viewed on YouTube thanks to the hardworking team at Recording Archaeology. So, without further ado, I encourage you to check out the inspiring and though provoking work of the Sightations artists, archaeologists, media-makers and creatives:
As with Sightations, I’m pleased to be able to share some of the talks from the TAG 2016 conference session ‘From Amatuers to Auteurs: In Defence of Authorship in Archaeological Visualisations’, organised by myself and Grant Cox, and filmed and uploaded to YouTube by the lovely team at Recording Archaeology.
The session abstract:
Archaeology borrows and adapts visualisation mediums and techniques from a range of artistic and creative practices including drawing, photography, film, gaming, digital animation and virtual reality. But do we take these visualisation practices as seriously as we do our scientific ones – or do we merely skim the surface of them, depriving ourselves of a deeper and more critical understanding of how the past is interpreted and understood? A key element of any art form, but arguably often side-lined in archaeology, is the visual author’s presence and ‘voice’. Following auteur theory this house argues that the author’s voice in visual representations of archaeology deserves equal regard to that of the author’s voice in written archaeological works. Such a shift in values would necessitate archaeologists becoming more visually and technically literate in visual art-forms and industries in order to not only appreciate but meaningfully be able to critique and translate archaeological visualisations on a deeper level. Not only would this enhance the rights to the creators of archaeological visualisations (such as recognition, ownership and copyright), but it would also demand greater responsibility, transparency and accountability for the archaeological visualisations created.
This session invites practitioners of visual archaeologies and those who research visual representations of archaeology to critique and debate the above argument, interrogating the value and role of the author’s voice in visualising archaeology. We seek to include a range of visual forms and mediums, inclusive of but not limited to drawing, photography, video, film, gaming, digital animation, AR, VR and mixed-mediums. Archaeologists, artists, heritage professional, industry practitioners and those who straddle multiple roles are warmly welcome to submit.