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Teaching and Learning Multimodal Communications

Alyssa Arbuckle, Alison Hedley, Shaun Macpherson, Alyssa McLeod, Jana Millar Usiskin, Daniel Powell, Jentery Sayers, Emily Smith, Michael Stevens, Authors

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Tracing the Trace: Project Proposal

"... a journey that moves, like all
pilgrimages, toward the site of a disappearance."
  Michel De Certeau, They Mystic Fable

"...form, in an image, is nothing other than the representation of desire."
Nicolas Bourriaud, Relational Aesthetics

In collaboration with Megan Gilbert, a friend and local artist, my final project will exhibit a series of photographs that deal with issues of materialitymemory, and the trace.  Using Scalar as an exhibition space, I hope to contextualize the work within a theoretical framework that speaks to pertinent issues in the digital humanities. The exhibition will attempt to respond to the following questions:

  • Taking up the contention between Chun's enduring ephemeral and Kirschenbaum's preservation of complete environments, how can we remember (and preserve) the past without fetishizing the object through obsessive storage?
  • Responding to Bourriaud's piece on relational aesthetics, can art (and by extension a text) be documented, exhibited, and archived, and still be experienced as event?  In other words, how can artwork be conceived not simply as a trace which points to an absence, but as a presence which contains its own capacity for initiating new events with each new encounter?
  • Finally, employing the ideas of both de Certeau and Bourriaud, how can art, reading, and life more generally, be practiced as forms of economic, political, and social resistance?  How can we create alternative spaces–social interestices–that allow for new economic and social relations?  And to what extent, if at all, can digital environments facilitate this?

In reorienting the movement of the body toward sites of loss (for instance cemeteries) through intentional artistic adventures (pilgrimages perhaps?) around Victoria, our project hopes to encounter traces of the trace, and to thus demonstrate (and document) how the process of lived memory can itself be a creative act.  Our work hopes to gesture toward a more performative (and even ritualistic) way of making and of living that resists meticulous archival in favor of practiced memory.  What will result are a series of photographs and possibly maps which speak to this process–artifacts, which we hope will facilitate new (and unforeseeable) encounters as they are exhibited (and experienced) on Scalar. 

Author: Emily Smith
Word Count: 355

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