3rd Global Conference
Monday 14th March – Wednesday 16th March 2011
Prague, Czech Republic
The Finnish Jazz and Pop Archive (JAPA) organized a competition “Early Music Net” in 2009. The idea of the contest was to collect early web pages (before year 1997) related to Finnish music and to award the earliest webpage as well as give recognition to a person or an institution who did a grand pioneering work within the area. As it appeared, the task was difficult. Most of the earliest pages had disappeared or no longer were available. The contest resulted in the competing arguments about the “preserved first-ever ones”: the first ones stored in the Internet Archive (http://www.archive.org/), a single posting left in a rock band’s web discussion forum which was later rebuilt, earlier page which was a part of a larger band portal, as well as a page which had not survived but introduced as a screen capture in a music magazine in 1995 etc. The JAPA also received more or less coherent reminiscence and oral histories about “pages there once were”. We argue that the case of the early Finnish music web is very characteristic in new media historiography and it reveals that new media is not usually recognized as important and worth of preserving before it is too late. On the other hand the case shows how complicated (and perhaps impossible, if we think, for example, of Foucault’s studies on archaeology of knowledge) it is to define which was the foremost. The paper analyses the case of Finnish Early Music Net and reflects questions of Internet sources and historical research to studies of “has-been new media” such as cinema, radio and television.
Formed in the United Kingdom in 1862 the Working-Men’s Club (WMC) movement served a purpose initiated by industrialisation, creating spaces for socialisation for the newly emerging working-class. However, due to changing attitudes towards leisure and the economic transformation (and subsequent decline) of the communities who would once look to the club for their entertainment, membership is dwindling and the club movement is predicted to be extinct by 2025.
The club stands as the last representation of a tradition and practice of community and leisure: a valuable but unravelling strand in the fabric of British culture facilitating what Jan Assman has termed ‘communicative memory’. What’s lost with their disappearance is a valuable repository and significant cultural mechanism for sharing and disseminating collective memory. These everyday memories form a significant element within a culture and class whose industrial roots no longer exist – where explicit links between past and present act as a means of location and self-realisation.
The presentation describes an ongoing project that looks to digitally document and preserve the individual and collective memories of club members. Issues regarding representation, mediation and the role of the documentary-practitioner / designer will be discussed: themes bound and contextualised by a failing institution that is largely misunderstood by the wider population of non-members. What, for instance, are the consequences of decoupling these memories from the landscape that created them? How might they be ‘re-located’ within a digital environment through which they are to be experienced?
The archive being collated through the project is intended to celebrate and give value to a movement and community whose potential extinction might otherwise pass unnoticed. Alongside this, the project is not just one of documentation and historical preservation but also of activism, where memory becomes a focus around which a renewal might take place.
Mapping Soweto: Geospatial Technologies, Black Townships, and Participatory Digital Archives in the “New South Africa”
Angel David Nieves
Over the past six-years my teaching and scholarship have been pre-occupied with the role of digital archives in post-conflict societies across sub-Saharan Africa. Much of my work focuses on the intersections between architecture, social justice, and human rights on the Internet. I have been working with the Hector Pieterson Memorial and Museum (HPMM), a small community-based museum in Soweto, South Africa, to help build a multi-media digital archive of their holdings, Soweto ’76, A Living Digital Archive . The museum is named in honor of 13 year-old Hector Pieterson, among the first student victims to die in the Soweto Uprisings 16 June 1976. Hector Pieterson’s death – and the subsequent murder of 575 other protestors in the Uprisings that would help bring about the first democratic elections of 1994 – are memorialized at this National Heritage Site.
A recent series of discoveries in the South African National Archives provides for new strategies to map the growth and development of townships over the forty-six year apartheid era. Over the past four months, I have come across a cache of maps, architectural plans, aerial photographs and other source documents related to the design and planning of townships across the city of Johannesburg. These drawings and plans suggest, as many historians have previously stated, that “the apartheid state remained steadfastly committed to terror” through the design and “layout of the location [of townships that] were planned with explicit, detailed attention to the disciplinary potentials of space.”
As some have argued, “The tyranny of the planners’ blueprints yielded a degree of spatial compartmentalization whose sheer banality had profound implications for every aspect of urban life.” As noted, “when planners reshape the built environment, individuals are compelled to adjust accordingly, reinforcing to some extent the spatial parameters of their oppression.” I am however suggesting that individuals and communities impart changing meanings to spatial structures over time that can be recorded in the design of participatory digital archives.
How then might we document the “spatial underpinnings of apartheid [era] projects”? How also might we use spatial tools to document the history of resistance, while also narrating the ways in which residents converted the bureaucratic and spatial impediments to political mobilization into weapons of struggle? These and other questions – including questions that have yet to be formulated – are the basis for my developing a second archive, incorporating geospatial technologies, Mapping Soweto .