Capturing and preserving the creative and performing arts

5 July, 2011

I’m just back from the CAiRO summer school, which trained PhD students from the creative and performing arts in how to document their work and manage those outputs. CAiRO is one of five RDMTrain projects funded under the JISC Managing Research Data programme.

There was a mix of theory and practice across the four days – lots of philosophical discussions about the impossibility of representing ephemeral and live arts, as well as some pragmatic reflections on what can - and often has to - be achieved within these limitations. As an ice-breaker, the first day was very hands-on. Students were provided with equipment to document a video installation by Jenny Lu and live performance by Augusto Corrieri. Different strategies were attempted and groups reviewed and discussed the pros/cons of each method. Days 2 and 3 focused on how to manage digital content. There were instructional talks on creating metadata, copyright and preservation, as well as case studies from projects and institutions that manage artistic archives. Content delivery was covered through case studies too. Michael Schwab, editor of The Journal for Artistic Research explained how they attempt to allow contributors more artistic control in the publication process. Text, images, video and other digital content can be uploaded to the research catalogue and then flexibly arranged on a canvas so the artist can creatively represent their ideas for publication.  The final day offered students the option of parallel workshops on audiovisual production, building an online collection or research into the theatre collections. Some of the content created on day 1 was used to build an online collection with Omeka. The exercise required some reflection on how to construct the collection e.g. by work, by performance etc, and what metadata to include. The Incremental project funded two students to attend the summer school. You can read a summary event report produced by Delaina, a prospective music PhD student, and reflections on creatively documenting performance by Cara, a paractice-led PhD student in theatre. Slides and audio from the event will be made available on the project wiki and online learning modules will be developed and deposited in JORUM by September. If you want to know more about the event or are interested in using the content, please get in touch with Stephen Gray

Front page image from Adolphe Appia collection, AHDS Perfoming Arts