How do we make sense of memory and human experience, whether in everyday life or in conditions of conflict and crisis? How do we investigate, aggregate, organize and act on visceral, sensory and dynamic phenomena that are not easily digitized, classified and archived? From the everyday experience of walking in the city, to contested memories of war and conflict, to artistic interventions and dialogues, to the performance of bodies in urban space, experiences, memories and expressions often require multi-modal representations, diverse interpretations, as well as non-linear, parallel and relational framing in order to be organized. In this course offered in 2015-2016, we explored the design of “living collections” of experiences, memories and expressions by examining theoretical constructs, ideas and practices from the humanities/social sciences, computation/information design, and the visual/performing arts.

We conducted case studies of digital and networked online projects — organizing complex media and information from oral histories, testimonies, performances, civic actions, and socio-political events — that are not simply archival, but represent unfolding, inter-related and dynamic phenomena. Students collaborated in teams to conceptualize, design and implement a prototype of a digital collection, while working closely with domain experts and participants in the process. We considered the affordances and limitations of using living collections to rethink domains of inquiry, conduct cooperative research, and engage diverse participants to act on the emerging “data” through visualization, cultural analytics, or public dissemination.

Course Blogs (2015 – 2016): 



Course Syllabus: Living Collections: Memory and Performance

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