I can explain the ‘badger’ honestly! In all seriousness, the Prezi contains links to some of the resources that have come out of the Kultivate project, including screencasts of the Kultivate Toolkits, and also a screencast of our ‘containers’ EPrints plugin. A fuller blog post will follow soon with more details and ALL the relevant links in one.
A member of the Kultur II Group had suggested that we might link up with UKCoRR’s Member Meetings so UKCoRR members could discuss arts specific issues for research repositories e.g. as part of a session or workshop in the day event. At the meeting last week I raised this, and out of about 50 attendees, approximately half were interested in this proposal, (this would appear to be the same half whose institutions had arts research). It is also worth noting that the visual enhancements arising out of Kultur/Kultivate/eNova might also have benefits to research repositories in other disciplines even for the improved display of text and PDFs.
Royal Holloway, University of London, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences in conjunction with The British Library and the Centre for Creative Collaboration
Despite recent funding announcements which have painted a bleak picture for arts research – this conference managed to be both intellectually stimulating, and positively enthusiastic about the future; leaving a lingering sense of hope through perseverance.
The opening keynote from David Cross ‘Remember imagining, imagine remembering’ was inspirational and uplifting; a narrative of a select number of projects undertaken by ‘Cornford and Cross‘, Matthew Cornford and David Cross. The positive benefit on society was palpable and real. The economic and political implications of interpreting the world through artistic research included examples of how having integrity about your beliefs can mean that you don’t always get your research funded. In the case of one particular project proposal they were turned down but then still able to have impact by talking about their research in other arenas.
The second keynote from Martin McQuillan, originally titled ‘I blame it on the Smiths’ was re-titled at the last minute to: ‘For the love of the university: a useful argument’. Martin reminded us of the Dearing Report (1996) which stated that the people who benefit should pay; he talked about how the students are not the consumers – the state is the consumer – the universities deliver a certain number of students to the state and provide training which would otherwise cost society – the students contribute to the economy.
Derrida (1999) was quoted regarding his views of the ‘unconditional university’, and the role of the university in democracy. Universities need to better understand their nature and unique role in society; one thing we should excel at is critical self reflection. In terms of the future of arts research, Martin outlined the inherent problems with the new fees arrangement; he described a ‘pessimism of the intellect’ but an ‘optimism of the will’. I made a note to bookmark the London Review of Books website; and uncovered some useful papers by the contributor Stefan Collini.
A Big Society? Arts and Social Intervention (Auditorium)
In the morning session, Anne Smith, outlined the approach of her completed PhD: ‘The Value of Practice-based Research Investigating Participatory Drama Projects with Refugees, Asylum Seekers and Migrants’. She spoke sensitively about the cultural setting for her work and also provided some examples in which the drama sessions, involving role play, had empowered participants in unexpected situations such as enabling one woman to contact the police when her small child went missing. Anne also referenced Maslow’s ‘Hierarchy of Needs’.
One of the highlights of the day was a talk by Rosanna Irvine who presented ‘Choreography as a Practice of Living Together’ focusing on two collaborative projects in particular:
what remains and is to come (2011) – a collaborative dialogue between Katrina Brown and Rosanna was presented as a short film; the project takes a ‘cross-disciplinary approach’ to choreography; ‘working with the materiality of charcoal, paper, body and digital technologies’ (Reference: http://whatremains2.wordpress.com/about/).
Sense[less] Acts (2011) – Rosanna and Jenny Hill voiced a video of their work (so we could clearly hear the statements). In the evening at the Centre for Collaborative Creation this same work was re-performed in a new context, including us as the participants. As a participant it was a privilege to be given a fuller sense of the meaning of the research; although the result was more questions than answers. The space in which the evening performances took place was very atmospheric; unfortunately the image below doesn’t really do the space justice:
The Centre for Creative Collaboration, London.
The Value of Breaking Boundaries (Brontë)
Kelvin Thomson, a professional musician and PhD in Composition candidate at Royal Holloway University of London, presented a composition inspired by Sylvia Plath’s ‘The Arrival Of The Bee Box’ (1962). The Estate do not grant permission to any musicians to set Plath’s poetry to music; Thomson’s paper ‘The Box is Only Temporary’: Recycling and Looking at New Musical Ways of Articulating Poetic Meaning’ described how he recycled and completely reinvented one of his original compositions through working collaboratively with Danae Eleni (soprano) and Enrico Bertelli (percussion).
Philip Sayer’s paper on ‘Philosophy, Social Science and the Arts: The problem with disciplines’ provided a philosophical discussion on the nature of interdisciplinarity. Sayer recommended that research supervisors should be aware that there is a link with employment and researcher behaviour i.e. some research students take on the ‘norms’ of the department they eventually want to work in. A few of the many useful points of reference included: Karl Popper (1963): ‘We are not students of some subject matter, but students of problems.’; the frontispiece to Francis Bacon’s 1620 Instauratio Magna which depicts a ship travelling through and beyond the Pillars of Hercules – ‘many will pass through and knowledge will be increased’; Kockelmans (1986): ‘students of the different departments have very little in common as far as their education is concerned’; and Law (2004) After method: mess in social science research Routledge: New York. The distinction between different disciplines is a good thing, and possibly necessary, so long as it doesn’t inhibit interdisciplinary.
Katja Vaghi presented a paper on ‘The comic element in Dance’ with reference to the works of the Czech dance choreographer Jiří Kylián, including the example below titled ‘Birthday’:
Eliisa Vainikka from University of Tampere, Finland, is at the beginning of her PhD research into visual blogs as presented in her paper ‘Consuming Pictures in Social Media’. Eliisa referenced Lehdonvirta (2010) ‘Online spaces have material culture’ (PDF). After her presentation we chatted about social networking in Finland and it was interesting to hear why the IRC-Galleria environment appeared to be so successful – simple and straightforward – not as complex as Facebook.
Mathelinda Nabugodi based her paper ‘A Defence of Translation in the Age of Its Technological Reproducibility’ upon two key texts: Shelley’s ‘A Defence of Poetry’ (‘poetry lifts the veil of beauty from the world; it makes the familiar not familiar be’) and Benjamin’s ‘The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction’ (‘translation is a form’). She talked about how, in some cases, technology could enable, for example matching film technology and Dada movement ideals.
There was discussion about why arts research should have to be justified on an economic basis as it can be misunderstood if money is used as the only criteria; although money has its place in the public sphere. A summary of the day was presented by the invited plenary panel.
The fifth Kultivate community-led workshop took place on Friday on the theme of ‘sustainability’. It was prefaced by the 11th Kultur II Group meeting, an opportunity to uncover the latest developments and issues that colleagues are facing in the visual arts sector.
The workshop was divided into three themes for the day: inspiration; community; and a debate on sustainability issues.
Theme One: Inspiration FigShare – ‘publish all your data’
Following a presentation at the REPOfringe 2011, Mark Hahnel was invited to speak to the Kultur II Group as it was clear that the visual and engaging aspects of FigShare could be of benefit to the visual arts research community as well. The founding of FigShare is also inspiring in that from a budget of zero it is now going to be sustained and developed for the much longer term whilst still retaining its autonomy and original vision to ‘publish all data’. Mark talked about incentivising researchers to use the system and how this has informed development of the interface and functionality. FigShare will be developing in the next few months with a re-launch including new features by the end of 2011.
Theme Two: Community EPrints
Steve Hitchcock provided several interesting discussion points, not least about how to define sustainability, and reference notes from Ithaka, Funding for sustainability (2011) and others. He also talked about what EPrints is doing about sustainability: working with a range of customers through EPrints Services; the latest version of EPrints 3.3 which includes the Bazaar app store; the nature of EPrints that it is open source software; and the EPrints-Tech email list.
Chris Awre explained the background to Fedora; since July 2009 it has been overseen by DuraSpace. Hydra, the name of the community, is based on the concept of ‘one body, many heads’ reflecting both the international and local aspects of their work. They also have an African proverb suggested by Stanford University as the community’s motto: ‘If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together’. It was particularly interesting to hear how the community is approaching partnership through a semi-legal basis for contribution at both the individual and institutional level, and to learn about the Hydra Content Modelling guidelines.
Sarah Molloy is one of the chairs of the newly formed Steering Committee; SHERPA-LEAP is looking for new members and Sarah suggested that this could take several directions for example including more of the University of London institutions, or other London-based institutions or more than just London-centric members? They have just established a Media working group which will build on the work of previous special interest working groups. Sarah posed the question ‘what do you need to drive sustainability?’; there needs to be a willingness and need from the community; a change to share and collaborate useful developments; and importantly the
‘kindness of strangers’
which can be seen in the way that members of the community take it in turns to host meetings and provide input.
Theme Three: Sustainability debate Sustaining and Supporting the UK Research Community
Gareth Johnson, Document Supply & Repository Manager, University of Leicester and Chair of the United Kingdom Council of Research Repositories (UKCoRR) was asked to facilitate this session due to a survey that was circulated to UKCoRR members. The results of this survey will be circulated soon, and in the meantime we had an early look at a Wordle which appeared to show ‘CRIS’ as the biggest issue facing research repository managers at the moment. There was a debate about the diversity of the needs of the repository community; drivers including Open Access and engagement with senior management; and discussion about the role of repository managers in a dynamic environment. As already debated on the UKCoRR list, the news of Princeton’s Open Access policy was also mentioned.
Kultur II Group Technical Framework
Carlos Silva, Kultivate Technical Manager, provided the background to the ARTSUK demonstrator service and the Kultur II Group were invited to discuss this as well as the Kultivate and eNova technical developments. A member of the group raised an important issue with the technical enhancements from the Kultur project, and it was agreed that the following actions would be forthcoming:
Although the link to the ARTSUK demonstrator service has been circulated previously via the list and mentioned at meetings, it was agreed that this should be circulated to the list again and a deadline given to solicit feedback.
It was agreed that a Web page would be provided via the Kultur II Group website to collate information about the Kultur enhancements and an opportunity (probably via a post on the list) for members of the Group to provide feedback on how this has worked for them in their institutions to support the community.
The CREST (Consortium for Research Excellence Support & Training) Research Symposium was inspiring and stimulating, with an array of extremely thought-provoking and diverse research; an opportunity to reflect on research practice and methodology across disciplines. Some thoughts from the day:
In describing the Kultivate project to researchers at the event I found the terminology of ‘online research environment’ helpful.
Gail Rowntree, Senior Lecturer in HR Management, Buckinghamshire New University, spoke about deploying welfare teams to work with victims’ families in mass disasters (more than 14 victims in an incident). The complexities of recording the experience of these personnel, ethical issues, and legal and insurance issues.
It was really interesting and useful to experience a different event approach. There were three poster presentation sessions; each session included around 4-5 researchers. The researchers/presenters had brought a poster and were each based on small tables; the audience in groups of about 5-6 spent about 10-15 minutes at each table. This may have been tiring for the presenters but it was excellent for the audience as in such small groups the conversations were really interesting and diverse; it encouraged questions and discussion easily.
‘Speaking truth to power – or just another story? The possibilities and limits of narrative research’, Sue Lea, University College Plymouth St Mark & St John. The session covered research approaches and the validity of narrative research in recording learning relationships in the classroom especially when dealing with excluded students, and with issues of power and inequality.
‘Participatory research into street based youth work interventions on violence’, Mike Seal, Newman University College. It was very interesting to hear about this research approach, for example building relationships and trust through an outward bound course.
‘Textile as a vehicle for trans-cultural and interdisciplinary research: A magic carpet ride crossing boundaries, borders and thresholds’ Lesley Millar, Professor of Textile Culture & Director, Anglo Japanese Textile Research Centre, University for the Creative Arts. Professor Millar presented a beautiful visual narrative of cloth and human experience including the cross-cultural stories of cloth such as gingham (Reference: Yvonne Dröge Wendel’s Universal Pattern project). More information and project news is available from: http://www.transitionandinfluence.com/
‘Between production and display: On teaching curating to fine art students’, James Brown, Plymouth College of Art. The concept of ‘curation’ is a loaded word for artistic research so I was really interested to learn about this project. This teaching module gave students an experiential approach to understand the concept of curation, before they were presented with the theory. They also practised the theory by working in a dedicated space at the Plymouth City Museum and Art Gallery. The students were empowered to control the meaning of their artworks and the audience’s interpretation of them, providing a structure to their practice beyond the studio environment.
Critical Commentary, ‘an interdisciplinary academic journal’ produced by Newman University College, Birmingham
Cottage Lab and REPOfringe cupcakes at the evening reception, 4th August
Both the JISC-funded Kultivate and eNova projects presented at the Repository Fringe 2011 held at the Informatics Forum, University of Edinburgh, 3rd-5th August 2011. The event was a chance to network, find out about other innovative projects and also to pick up tips for future events. The event organisers did a great job and I will be trying out some of their ideas at future Kultur II events e.g. round table, pecha kucha. The live blog was really good and comprehensive especially considering the diversity of the presentations and sessions captured in this way.
JISC Repositories: Take-up and Embedding project staff with the JISC Programme Manager Balviar Notay, and Jackie Wickham and Laurian Williamson (JISCRTE Project Co-ordinator) of the Repositories Support Project, 5th August
Inspirational story of FigShare – ‘publish all your data’: started by Mark Hahnel with a budget of zero, then received funding for three years hosting, now has funding to continue hosting for at least the next 20 years
Key points from the Mini-REF workshop: managing REF submissions to avoid spikes; keeping academics engaged after a call out for REF has finished; keeping allies in the research office – not always an easy relationship as both under a lot of pressure with the REF; REF good opportunity to do back fill of the repository; disambiguating authors sitting in multiple departments and how you deal with that; issues with recording splitting and merging departments in the repository; ultimately REF was massive opportunity – to put repository at heart of institution; final caveat never to lose sight of open access!!
During the break on 5th August I spoke to James Toon regarding their work with MePrints, this is available via the EPrints developer wiki (I couldn’t find it so I have emailed to ask for the link).
Suggestion received from Miggie Pickton regarding MePrints: email notification to the academic to encourage deposit of full text items
Key points from Linked Data round table session: ask what is the problem space rather than getting too philosophical i.e. if you put data out there people will try and solve the problems; issues at national level e.g. Netherlands and Portugal have exposed their theses for text mining; you need a strong justification if you are not going to do linked data; but you can’t mandate full text due to publisher and researcher issues; turn the question on its head: what would repositories want to offer linked data?; PIRUS II – JISC project normalising statistics across repositories with publishers.
Following the Kultivate Pecha Kucha, Peter Burnhill’s suggestion of terms for a repository ‘put it in the Depot’ aka http://opendepot.org/
Last Friday, the Kultivate project hosted the ‘Kultivating Kultur’ conference at the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), London. There were around 80 attendees representing over 50 institutions, projects and national bodies, including many members of the ever expanding Kultur II Group. The purpose of the event was to present six Kultivate case studies about aspects of increasing arts research deposit. These were framed by a keynote presentation from Kerstin Mey, Director of Research and Enterprise at the University for the Creative Arts, on ‘What is Arts Research?’ and a presentation on Kultivate by Leigh Garrett, VADS Director and Kultivate project Director. A ‘Conference Fringe’ was available in the adjoining Hawksmoor Room featuring representatives of all the JISC Repositories: Take-up and Embedding projects. The day concluded with a plenary panel discussion.
With thanks to Anne Spalding, Kultivate Project Officer, and Repository and Digitisation Officer, UCA Research Online for providing the following summary of the day; and thanks to Amy Robinson, VADS Collections Manager, for the photographs.
Kerstin Mey, Director of Research and Enterprise, University for the Creative Arts
This presentation opened the conference and considered the concept of arts research. Kerstin spoke of arts research as a complex and dynamically developing field. There is tension between scientific and arts inquiry in the UK which does not exist in Germany. Arts research can be confusing, there is the assumption that the work speaks for itself without the need for contextualisation. There remain lingering tensions between thinking and doing. Kerstin showed three examples of arts research which crossed into other disciplines. Concluding the presentation with a plea that we should keep an open mind about arts research; it is about pushing boundaries and creating new ways of knowing.
Leigh gave a brief history of VADS (Visual Arts Data Service) and an explanation of the services it provides in the areas of repositories, innovation, consultancy and research. This then led into the background of Kultur, the Kultur II Group and the Kultivate project. The critical success factors for this project are: the technical infrastructure, advocacy, simplifying the deposit process, demonstration of usage and impact, senior management, and REF2014. So to the future, this includes the JISC funded eNova project to ‘kulturise’ MePrints for arts repositories, and two further Kultivate workshops.
Tahani began with a brief overview of Goldsmiths and GRO before going on to describe research and the needs of artistic researchers. Two examples of researchers commenting on the process of engaging with GRO were given along with a clear explanation on the issues arising from the depositing process.
Advocacy is a dialogue with the researchers and various methods are used to engage with them. These include a brochure available to download from GRO, one-to-one clinics, presentations, workshops, and working to improve the interface. Advocacy is not a linear process, it should be continuous and not an instruction. Above all listen to your researchers. The presentation concluded with lessons learned followed by a question and answer session which highlighted that as a result of their advocacy, deposits had increased from 26 to 273.
When creating a screencast the planning is absolutely key to ensuring success of the finished screencast. Sarah also emphasised the importance of using the same terms in all mediums, for both print and online advocacy tools. The screencast has acted as an aide memoir; it is short, only 4 minutes long and can still deliver a personal touch.
There has been very positive feedback from staff and the screencast could be developed to help with copyright training, editing material and for a step-by-step guide for researchers using the IRStats statistics package.
The Conference Fringe in the Hawksmoor Room, with the JISC Repositories: Take-up and Embedding projects
Jonathan began by talking about the Royal College of Art and then how their Research Repository has been created and developed. Work started with discussing both the general requirements and then the specific needs of researchers. This was then followed by pilots and branding, illustrated with examples. Throughout the development Jonathan produced a mantra ‘simplify, reduce, reuse’ to help remove unnecessary parts of the process. Jonathan covered other aspects of the development including disambiguation and subject terms before concluding with recommendations. A particular recommendation is the idea of a project ‘container’ which could simplify the deposit process and is being developed as part of the Kultivate project’s technical enhancements by EPrints, University of Southampton.
CREST (Consortium for Research Excellence Support & Training) has been funded for two years, and involves 18 institutions across a range of subject disciplines. Alisa outlined the project outputs and activities to date all of which are part of the overall aim to produce a CREST repository (CREST Collections), an interface which will search across all the institutional repositories including content provided by institutions without repositories. This was illustrated with screenshots of how the repository will look.
The CREST approach is to provide a hierarchy of options, advocacy supported by social networking technology (CREST Collaborate) and an interdisciplinary consortia model; the aim is for researchers to have a seamless workflow between CREST Collaborate and CREST Collections.
Colourful slides illustrated the context to both the University College site at Falmouth and to the new AIR (Academy for Innovation and Research) building. AIR has played an important part in developing their plan for an institutional repository. Tim spoke about the AIR portal which is currently in development, but will be available here: http://air.falmouth.ac.uk/ This portal will provide access to all research projects through a common interface.
Falmouth is still at the conception stage of a repository and are currently in the process of looking at two software options EPrints and Drupal (as this is the choice for the AIR portal). A key factor is the need for the institutional repository to be interoperable with other systems within the institution, although the team also want to ensure that the chosen software is fit for purpose; testing of systems is currently taking place.
Stephen’s presentation dealt with performance as research and the challenges posed by performance documentation as research data. There are possible solutions in the form of PADS (Performance Art Data Structure) and this was illustrated by an example in the form of Paul Hurley’s ‘Becoming Snail’.
Performance as research is often seen as impermanent and yet the performance can be used for teaching, directly and indirectly as the basis of new work and purely for enjoyment. There are however challenges in recording both the performance and the associated data that accompanies performance disciplines. Stephen went on to demonstrate how PADS has addressed the challenges and also pointed out there is as yet no national arts data centre.
In conclusion PADS is behind world’s largest collection of live art documentation (1600 performances) which should be freely available online in September. So watch this website www.bristol.ac.uk/drama for announcements.
Leigh presented three questions for the attendees to discuss:
To identify key benefits to engagement in the deposit process
To verify technical enhancements
To discuss future issues and requirements
Points raised by attendees:
Senior management need to buy into advocacy at a higher level within institutions and this should encourage engagement with the process.
Technical suggestions included the potential re-writing of the institutional repository by making it a development tool so researchers can record research as works in progress.
There was also some discussion about metadata and although there is a desire to make depositing more streamlined it is also important not to remove metadata that will be required later.
It is recognised that research informs teaching and that quite often it is the process which is the most interesting part of completing an artefact. There still continues a split between ‘teaching and learning’ and ‘research’.
The following is a partial account of the ‘Delivering’ themed day held on Wednesday 29th June. The audience comprised of about 25-30 researchers from within and outside of UK Higher Education, from MA to PhD and beyond. The timetable for the day was necessarily fluid in order to accommodate the fantastic lively discussion and debate.
Morning session Dr Paul Clarke spoke about documenting work for assessment. Stephen Gray tackled enquires about completing an AHRC technical appendix after his talk. Stephen mentioned that there had been a lot of discussion around the word ‘curated’ as this was used both in terms of ‘data curation’ and in the sense of curating works in an exhibition. John Hargreaves from JISC Digital Media gave a presentation on Copyright and Creative Commons. He reminded us that just because an item has a Creative Commons License, we shouldn’t assume it has been correctly applied. The issue was also raised of applying licenses to collaborative works, and a member of the audience mentioned that they had used a consortium agreement to establish which license would apply to the works.
Michael Schwab spoke about the Journal for Artistic Research, which is an online journal that uses the Research Catalogue (RC) software. The RC software is available to all artistic researchers, with or without institutional affiliations, once they have signed and posted an agreement regarding the copyright of their works. The Journal for Artistic Research is an online creative environment in which artistic researchers can expose their work as research for it to be peer-reviewed and published. Some of the challenges that they are encountering include: the split between the academic and non-academic sides of research; the process for peer-reviewing artistic research; and issues with defining the borders between practice and writing. Michael spoke about his own practice and writing during his Royal College of Art PhD in photography and about the relationship between practice and theory in artistic research.
The Kultivate project presented an introduction to the concept of institutional repositories, which is difficult due to the terminology used and their traditional text-based appearance. The participants had mostly signed up to attend the ‘Building an online portfolio’ workshop (for the following day) and so it seemed particularly important to highlight the benefits of using a repository as a ‘secure online showcase’ for your work. The Kultur enhancements (judging by their audible reaction) were well received. Paper-based feedback was gathered about institutional repositories from the audience as part of the talk, and will be written up in another blog post shortly.
Jo Ana Morfin Guerrero spoke about her PhD research into ‘Unstable Documents: Archiving and Preservation Practices’. Her background is as a conservator, but she also has an MA in Curating, and is currently undertaking her PhD at the University of Bristol supervised by Dr. Paul Clarke. The audience were shocked to learn that the Dutch government is cutting funding for Media Art from January 2013. Her talk emphasised the importance of documentation in preserving Media Art and raised issues she had encountered in her investigation including: the disorganised state of some archives; the lack of funding for preservation or documentation as the money was needed to support new exhibitions; and the problems with inaccessible data housed in proprietary database programmes.
The event ended with a presentation on the National Review of Live Art’s Video Archive by Amanda Egbe, and further discussion.
Anne Spalding, Repository and Digitisation Officer at the University for the Creative Arts, and Kultivate Project Officer has provided the following account of the ‘Capturing Process’ symposium, held on 29th June, to celebrate the launch of the Practice Research Unit at Kingston University. The programme for the day is available, although the website won’t be formally launched until autumn 2011: www.practiceresearchunit.co.uk
The event began with an introduction and welcome from Professor Matthew Pateman, Dr. Helen Minors, and Professor John Mullarkey. This included references to the current economic times and an impassioned plea that it is now more vital than ever to promote the validity of the arts.
Session One: Capturing Process
The session began with Michael Chanan (film/music) talking about reflection within the research process, which was a recurring theme for the day. He also spoke about the important relationship between the creator/performer and the audience. There is an unspoken dialogue between the two and it is not always easy to capture the reaction of the audience to the creator/performer. Yet it is this feedback which is important for the impact in the REF, so how does one record this? The contact with the audience is not formalised or quantified. In addition the creator/performer never sees their own work in the same way that an audience outside of that work views it.
John Irving (music) introduced his current research and explained that he was recording all aspects of this research. The research output for this project is a CD of the recording of a selection of Mozart’s keyboard works and also a web based documentary resource. Before undertaking the performance of the musical works John spent a month developing the ‘clavichord touch’. A different technique is required to play a clavichord as opposed to a fortepiano and this learning informed the performance. John also spoke about the technical challenges of trying to capture performance on an instrument that had a personality of its own and in an oval room in which it is difficult to record in because of the acoustics. The clavichord could not be removed from the room for legal reasons.
Simon Ellis (dance) discussed the huge amount of material that is produced in order to document the research process and performance. Processes may not be relevant to the project yet there is pressure to document everything. There are questions about where to put this information, who will use it and what is it for, how is it valuable? It is important to be able to assess this information. Simon also mentioned the many roles researchers may have:
In my various roles as choreographer, video-maker, teacher (what Cat Harrison calls a “slashie” as in dancer slash maker slash …) I seek collaborations.
Defining Practice: Rehearsing Applied Strategies
The next session demonstrated the work of three researchers working in the areas of: digital media, Maria Mencia; film, Fiona Curran; and music, Oded Ben-Tal.
Maria Mencia explained how her sonic poem ‘Birds singing other birds songs’ had been adapted to suit different exhibition venues. In the process of adapting her work she discovered its versatility.
Fiona showed her film ‘Clean’ in which ten women were shown cleaning their faces. The soundtrack to the film gave clues to the characters of the women but the audience were not privy to this information.
Ben explained how his collaboration with his performing partner worked because their shared a vocabulary, they each possessed different strengths which complemented each other; they viewed mistakes as opportunities and took time to develop ideas.
After lunch the keynote address was given by Robin Nelson (Central School of Speech and Drama). Robin gave a very clear and concise view about Practice as Research. Reflection on your research was absolutely key in his experience; building in time to do this only enriches your research.
Round table discussion
This covered the guidance on the weighting in PhDs for the practice and written context. Essentially this varies between universities and countries but in the UK this balance can be negotiated. There is a relationship between practice and theory which will never go away. A lively debate followed on whether recording research interferes with the spontaneity of developing the research. It is difficult to decide at what point to turn a camera on or off, a theme which had also been discussed earlier in the day. The final point was around ownership of the work and the wish that IPR issues were less complicated and that all material for educational purposes was exempt from such restrictions.
The fourth Kultivate community-led workshop took place at the end of May on the theme of ‘metadata’. It included the usual Kultur II Group catch-up meeting and also an Advisory Group meeting.
Advisory Group Meeting
The Kultivate project still has over two months to run, however owing to the conference being held in July it was decided to hold the second and final Advisory Group meeting in May. Members of the Kultur II Group highlighted that the VADS demonstrator service had been useful in illustrating what was possible and providing a chance to try out the Kultur developments.
There was discussion about using IRStats, including work-arounds suggested to avoid the potential embarrassment for researchers of having ‘no downloads’, and using Google Analytics with arts objects – there is a need to better optimise non-textual files. The group raised the issue that it was difficult to evidence an increase in arts research deposit in the short term as the impact of projects such as Kultur, and Kultivate, may be delayed due to other factors. For example one institution had followed the Kultur developments since 2007 but was only recently given the go-ahead this year to implement the enhancements.
The group was looking forward to the release of EPrints 3.3 which is expected to include an enhanced search feature. The Measuring Impact under CERIF (MICE) project was introduced; a survey has now been circulated via the Kultur JISCMail list.
Gareth Knight set the scene for the workshop, posing questions to ascertain whether our metadata was fit for purpose, and how it could be re-used or made interoperable with other systems. He also presented about the Readiness4REF (R4R) project.
The group were interested in the potential of text-mining software for the creative arts in terms of the infrastructure that MERLIN had set-up and whether this could be re-purposed with extracting data from non-textual files. For example VADS has recently been funded by JISC for Spot the Difference which will look at tools to detect visual plagiarism.
The afternoon included two case studies: the University of Leeds who have separated their arts-based repository from the White Rose consortium and are working to integrate their systems; and the University of the Arts London who recently carried out a Research Outputs Review (18 April 2011 – 13 May 2011) in preparation for the REF. The final session addressed different approaches to describing arts research outputs with a view to optimising searching and retrieval, specifically considering subject terminology.
David Duce from the School of Technology at Oxford Brookes University, set the scene for the day and also proposed the notion of Digital Evidence Bags (DEBs) which could lead to the concept of a Digital Curation Workbench where activities carried out were automatically recorded/documented.
Pip Laurenson, Head of Collection Care Research at the Tate, raised the issue of what a digital repository needs to look like for artworks. Tate have been carrying out research into Matters in Media Art since 2003. She also talked about the way artists programme software code as opposed to computer programming as standard practice; we watched an interview with David Rokeby talking about the way part of the code is for functionality and part was essential to the artwork so in order to enable preservation he had spent a long time separating and documenting this.
Leo Konstantelos based at the University of Glasgow presented findings gathered during his PhD which considered how digital art online could be retrieved for scholarly research. Worryingly one of the sixteen digital art online resources he consulted has recently disappeared with the loss of around 20,000 artworks. Leo emphasised that these online resources were not just there for the display of art but had other functionality such as community and commercial aspects. Some of his interview participants, including quite high profile artists, said they liked the anonymity of submitting their work to such sites. Leo also mentioned a report he co-authored: Report on emerging digital art characterisation techniques; and the large EU Keeping Emulation Environments Portable project as well as a new JISC-funded project Preservation of Complex Objects Symposia (POCOS) http://www.pocos.port.ac.uk (website will be online by next week)
Sarah Cook from CRUMB, posed thought provoking questions such as: why do we think about preservation instead of documentation? what are the differences between digital and new media art? and how much does complete metadata matter for the study of art history?
Jon Thomson (in collaboration with Alison Craighead) spoke about how works have been made and how they have been acquired into different collections. It was fascinating to hear about the variety and complexity of the types of work and the way each had been handled.
Perla Innocenti from the University of Glasgow, spoke about the clear differences between digital preservation and digital art; she suggested that we need to question assumptions about what constitutes digital art and what should be preserved for the future: “experimentation with the curation of digital art is essential”. She is involved in the EU funded SHAMAN project, and also mentioned the EU-funded Planet’s project Testbed, which provides a six-step experimentation process.
Brian Matthews, Group Leader of the Scientific Applications Group within the e-Science Centre (STFC), raised interesting questions about both the nature of software art including its physical outputs, and also about a variety of strategies for preservation. He quoted James Faure-Walker: “With software, as with painting only the user can tell the difference” and proposed that the test of the success of our preservation is the performance of the data for the audience (based on the NAA performance model (PDF)).
Patricia Falcão, Time-based media conservator at the Tate, spoke about her MA research into risk assessment for software based archives. She provided a case study with the piece Brutalism: Stereo Reality Environment 3, which is currently on display at the Tate. This provided an excellent insight into the work of a conservator and the complexity of issues involved.
Visual artist Ruth Maclennan presented an archive of her event-based work Archway Polytechnic on Wednesday at the third Kultivate workshop. Ruth’s presentation was accompanied by a silver suitcase containing a physical archive of some of her work and even a few feathers collected from the hawk that carried a video camera.
Stephen Gray from Project CAiRO (Curating Artistic Research Output), part of the JISC Managing Research Data programme, presented a workshop evaluating the kulturised EPrints demonstrator service against Omeka and the Internet Archive. The workshop raised discussion and feedback about EPrints as well as the process of depositing potentially complex arts research data.
The Journal for Artistic Research (JAR) has recently published an issue 0 made available through the Research Catalogue software. Michael Schwab, JAR Editor-in-Chief, presented the conceptual framework and technical architecture and discussed the different ways that artists may choose to expose their work as research.
Laura Molloy, Preservation Researcher at the Humanities Advanced Technology and Information Institute (HATII), University of Glasgow, presented the results of her survey into artists’ self-archiving and preservation practices. This was modelled on the AHDS Performing Arts (2006) Getting to Know Our Audience Scoping Study (PDF), although there were differences in the research methodology and audience.
On Wednesday 16th March, Anne Spalding and I attended the University for the Creative Arts Research Student Conference in Farnham. This was a chance to do some advocacy for UCA Research Online, and an opportunity to gather information and make contacts for the Kultivate project as well. Some of the themes that I will be exploring in more depth:
Research as narrative Jane Wildgoose, ‘Artist, Writer, Designer, and Keeper of The Wildgoose Memorial Library’, gave the keynote presentation titled Research & Materialisation. This was a fascinating journey covering how the narrative of research had been woven throughout her career and materialised; focusing on three of Jane’s projects: designing the costumes for Hellraiser; the project On One Lost Hair; and Promiscuous Assemblage, Friendship, & The Order of Things, a site-specific installation commissioned by the Yale Center for British Art. Jane talked about the way her work and life are interwoven together; and highlighted how sparks conceived in one project had then led into other projects; she also talked about the ‘materialisation’ of research in the form of outputs such as costume designs.
The presentations suggested three questions:
1.) How do you document research when the form of documentation is itself part of the work? i.e. the method of documentation/recording can be vitally significant in itself in the meanings it can convey and present
2.) How do you record and document performance art?
I am looking forward to Stephen Gray’s Kultivate case study (abstract available here) about documenting performance art; and was interested at the UCA event to find out that one practitioner had set up video cameras to simultaneously record her performance as well as the reaction of the audience. She presented this to us as one film with a split screen and described it as a documentation of her performance.
3.) How do you present visually explicit or adult content in an institutional repository? As I am not a repository manager I am not sure how this is handled and maybe this is an issue with all research in terms of related issues of copyright and confidentiality i.e. levels of access based on keeping some material unpublished but preserved in the repository, or controlling access in some way? Does this then conflict with what the artist can choose to present on their own websites?
It was great to make contact with the other projects. NECTAR and the Glasgow School of Art are both making use of the Kultur enhancements for their repositories. Robin Burgess from Glasgow School of Art had previously attended a Kultur II Group meeting so it was nice to hear more about their project. Robin asked for suggestions for an acronym for their long project title. The De Montfort repository called DORA, will be enhanced by the EXPLORER project, and amongst other tools they are considering Kultur enhancements too. It was also interesting to hear from the Hydrangea project which is making enhancements to their Fedora repository platform, and follows on from their Hydra project.
In the afternoon we had a presentation from William Nixon at Glasgow University, titled ‘People, Processes, and Policy’, and a workshop from Jackie Wickham of the Repositories Support Project (RSP). The RSP are in the process of recruiting a Project Coordinator to work with the ‘take-up and embedding’ projects.
Balviar Notay, JISC Programme Manager for the Repository Deposit programme has asked all the projects to write a blog post based on the discussion points outlined in the afternoon session. The projects represented at the meeting on Tuesday were:
The questions for discussion in the afternoon session were:
What actions are required for the success of your project? What are the indicators?
What strategies are required to spread good practice?
How are you going to feed data for the evaluation?
Kultivate plans to address these in the following ways:
The actions required for the success of Kultivate centre around collaboration and engagement. We are engaging with and growing the Kultur II Group; other JISC projects (CAiRO, Incremental, RSP, RePosit etc); and with the wider JISC community through dissemination through VADS and the Kultur II Group. The indicators are provision of outputs, these cannot occur without fostering the engagement of the Kultur II Group and wider community.
Our strategies include community-led workshops and meetings, provision of toolkits, case studies from the Kultur II Group, underpinned by ongoing evaluation and information gathering to inform Kultivate.
We are happy to provide all data gathered to Evidence Base, however it should be noted that due to the short timescale and nature of the Kultivate project this data will be largely qualitative e.g. ancedotal evidence gathered through workshops and evaluation/surveys/interviews.
The second Kultivate community-led workshop took place on Monday and included an impromptu presentation by Jodie Double, who stepped in to replace Jill Evans who was unfortunately ill. The agenda and list of attendees is available here: 20110228_Kultivate_agenda_attendees.pdf
On Wednesday 26th January, thanks to John Murtagh, UAL Research Online Repository Manager, who posted information about this event to the email@example.com list, a few members of the Kultur II Group were able to attend the ‘What is Art and Design Research?’ seminar at Chelsea College of Art. Students of the MRes Arts Practice degree were disseminating their findings, and there was a keynote speech by Professor Michael Biggs (http://r2p.herts.ac.uk/biggs1.html).
Some of the key points made by the students:
Most of the artists interviewed did not recognise that their work was research.
There was discussion about whether ‘arts research’ had become, or was becoming, a new field of arts production e.g. the act of writing with the same intention as the act of painting.
The relationship between funding and research i.e. tailoring an application for a research grant in order to receive funding, but not necessarily viewing this as the same as art, the idea of ‘research’ as being separate.
The research process traditionally involves making outputs publically available, but this may not be the point or aim of the artist. Art doesn’t have to be well-received to be valid.
Professor Biggs keynote raised the following points:
The question ‘What is Art and Design Research?’ was agreed to be an improvement on the old condescending approach ‘Can Artists Do Research?’.
Professor Biggs approached this question from three different points of view: ontologically, epistemologically, and sociologically. He presented a diagram explaining the relationships between research, artists, and the community. Essentially he argued that it is the responsibility of the Universities to define ‘an art and design researcher’ and that after 20 years (1992-2012) there should be definitions available.
Some of the discussion afterwards included views about whether arts research can offer something to other disciplines, or whether it even needs to contribute to other fields. Finding connections may let you take steps, but labels often get in the way; there are benefits and hazards in a word-free environment.
Victoria Walsh mentioned the Tate’s Creative Scholar conferences and added that ‘sometimes the connections are obvious, it is the dis-connections that are important’, i.e. identifying where the conflicts are.
English Roses, acrylic and enamel on wood, by Mimei Thompson. Image: fineart.ac.uk/VADS. Copyright: Mimei Thompson.
Since 1st October 2009, interested Arts Institutions, Universities, and relevant bodies have met in the form of the KULTUR II group. This is a group designed to discuss issues around the implementation of the Kultur project enhancements to EPrints, as well as common issues found within the arts research higher education community.
On Wednesday 8th September, the ever-expanding group met at JISC Collections, Brettenham House in London. There were representatives from the following institutions and organisations: Arts University College at Bournemouth, Goldsmiths University of London, GuildHE, Royal College of Art, Sympletic, University of the Arts London, University for the Creative Arts, University of Glasgow, University of Southampton, University of the West of England, and the Visual Arts Data Service (VADS). The workshop in the afternoon included presentations by William Nixon and Richard Jones (details below).
Presentation: William J Nixon, Digital Library Development Manager, University of Glasgow