Category Archives: art

CFP: From amateurs to auteurs: in defence of authorship in archaeological visualisations

I’m very excited to announce that I’m working with digital artist and archaeologist Grant Cox, from ArtasMedia to bring a session about the importance of the creator’s voice in archaeological visualisations to the Theoretical Archaeology Group conference this December.

Here’s the spiel:

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. This session partners with TAG 2016’s art/digital/film exhibition ‘Sightations’, running on site throughout the TAG conference, and session speakers are warmly encouraged to display an example of their work in the exhibit. For more information on the exhibit please see ‘Sightations’ call for contributors.

If you’d like to be part of our session please send you name(s), affiliations, title of paper, and abstract of 250 words, to jeffers113@gmail.com or ker1g14@soton.ac.uk. We’re accepting submissions until November 15th. If you have any question please don’t hesitate to get in touch, and please share this page with anyone you think might be interested!

A Restoration – Reviewed

I’m currently sitting in the cafe beneath The Ashmolean in Oxford. It’s bustling with tourists, seniors and families taking a break from the collections above and the rain outside. I’ve taken refuge from the museum above because my mind has just been completely overloaded – and I haven’t even visited a single exhibition space yet. I’ve just come straight from seeing Elizabeth Price’s ‘A Restoration’: a video-art installation based on the archives of Sir Arthur Evans, the English archaeologist who excavated Crete’s Knossos in 1900. It’s a stunning artwork. Literally. Set in a dedicated dark space, surrounded by speakers and flashing phrenetically across two screens, the viewer is bombarded with successive layers of poetic narration (of a synthetic disembodied collective voice of imaginary administartors), percussive electronic music (think Yann Tiersen’s ‘Amelie’ soundtrack crossed with Jamie XX), and cleverly edited archival images (historical and modern photographs of artefacts, drawings, maps, graphics and clever animations bring to life both Minoan iconography as well as computer archival icons). In this way, like Alice through the rabbit hole, or Theseus in the labyrinth, ‘A Restoration’ takes you ever deeper into the world of the mysterious administrators.

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‘A Restoration’ is not a politically or culturally critical artwork – especially compared to some of the recent video-art installation works disentangling (post)-colonialism, museology and repatriation which I saw attached to the joint British Museum – National Museum of Australia exhibit (how I wish that exhibit had toured to the UK! I may have to write about that exhibit and its use of art and video too actually…). Instead, ‘A Restoration’ is a playful, gentle, exploratory, and softly satirical work, commenting more on the limitations of our ways of knowing and envisioning the past, and our possibly naïve attempts to reconstruct the past in some ideal form. It has a very European sensibility to it: testing but also ultimately propagating the notion of Knossos as the fount of European civilization, constructed seed by seed, brick by brick, person by person – as illustrated in the fragments composed together like a giant jigsaw puzzle of the past. It concludes somewhat ambiguously – which to me is a reminding that in the end our attempts to preserve the remains of the past can only be at best, temporary.

You can see a trailer of ‘A Reconstruction’ on the Guardian website, and on Elizabeth Price’s website. The exhibit continues for 5 more days until 15th March.

Marina Warner wrote a lovely essay on the exhibit, which was available on site as a pamphlet. Hopefully it will be published after the exhibit. Keep an eye out.