Leeds Creative Labs

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Initial thoughts…

The Human Algorithm 

“I was interested in art as a carrier of information” Lynda Benglis

What would happen if galleries didn’t have walls and people didn’t go to see art but art came to see them? What knowledge sits within the walls of the Hepworth, how is the narrative of that knowledge shared?

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Is the Hepworth a curation of people and their perspective as much as it is a collection of works? And how does this concept relate to the people who do (and don’t) walk through its doors?

In a time of social media, networks, platforms and digital curation, what if the ‘Gallery remix’ was actually a remixing of narrative, the people and the physical site itself? Here we start, re-imagining these fundaments of the Hepworth as moveable pieces of code – the human algorithm. Our plan is play with these elemental building blocks, re-order, re-write and apply the possible technological vehicle that can drive art as information places it may not necessarily ordinarily have visited.

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– Katie Brown

 

Remix the Gallery?

As a historian I am interested in the process of uncovering, interpreting, and creating. Can the historian can simply walk into an archive and uncover “the truth” of what happened in the past? Or are we actually in the business of creating historical meaning?

When a researcher walks into an archive, they often already know what material they are looking for, what stories they hope to uncover, what narrative they plan to tell, what fits, and what will be excluded.

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What do people expect to find in galleries and museums? How does art act as a carrier of information? What stories are told?

We start, then, with questions. How do museums and galleries act as a vehicle for the exchange of knowledge? How can we remix the gallery to make visits non-linear? What unexpected questions can we ask?

-Laura Harrison

 

 

Bricks and Mortar

When we first met up as a group at the Hepworth, we went for a walk round the gallery, and ended up outside to look at the building as a whole as well as the exhibitions.

It’s a substantial presence.

Photo Hufton and Crow, http://www.hepworthwakefield.org/about/architecture/

Photo Hufton and Crow, http://www.hepworthwakefield.org/about/architecture/

On Tuesday we had a look round the behind-the-scenes of the gallery, with curator Sam Lackey.

What struck me was how much infrastructure goes into the preservation of knowledge.

Whether it’s the file system for preserving material from the old Wakefield civic art gallery,

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or the system for using river water to regulate the temperature and humidity of the gallery spaces.

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Bricks and mortar, and even printed paper, are good at protecting knowledge from being blown away in the wind.

A couple of things jumped out at me from what Sam was saying as we walked round.

The first was the process of making an exhibition happen: research; mapping what might be in the exhibition and looking for a new angle (with the help of printed photos of artworks stuck on the wall); little wooden models of the gallery to decide where things should go;

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the admin of getting everything on loan from other places, especially verifying its provenance (which is an interesting word), including making sure a work isn’t one stolen by the Nazis; getting and installing works – we learned that you’re often not allowed to tilt big artworks to get them through small doors; preserving the works on display (ie the building temperature) while they are in the safe keeping of the gallery.

All those skills and processes are also an expertise or form of knowledge that bricks and mortar – though less so paper because it won’t be written down – protect from being blown away.

I wonder where else that expertise could go to be used outside a gallery, and where similar processes go on under a different name.

Another thing that struck me was about the amateur art historians, often retired people, who exhaustively research a topic. “They are making connections” Sam said, “but nobody knows what the connections are.”

And where do their outcomes go to? A self published book or a presentation to the gardening society was Sam’s guess.

Knowledge that is not protected by bricks and mortar, and blows away.

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Cory Doctorow: GLAM and the Free World

When we started to think about the challenge with which we wished to frame the Hepworth Edition of the labs, we had a lot of ideas about culture-as-a-platform which led us to the OpenGLAM principles – good practices for galleries, libraries, archives and museums looking to embrace an open, connected philosophy.

Serendipitously I came across a talk by Cory Doctorow on this very subject and immediately we knew we wanted to have Cory’s ideas at the heart of our project and invited him to share those ideas at our launch event last month.

Cory spoke of the moral, political and democratic freedoms at stake across the galleries, libraries, archives and museums sector and how it could take the lead in ensuring that access to our cultural assets and heritage remain free and open; we’re hoping those ideas provide a compelling backdrop for our next cohort this Spring.

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