Our “Memory Library” project aims to uncover and make public some of the memories Harry Elkins Widener Memorial Library at Harvard and its network libraries have created and held for the past 100 years; memories which have not yet been known to a public. We began by creating an archive of oral histories from library staff, librarians, alumni, and students who used the library. This instantiation of the project represents one “performance” of the archive– what you see is documentation of a ten-minute performance on the steps of Widener, accompanied by a radio documentary taken from the oral histories and our research into Widener Memorial Library. Seeking to disrupt the space in front of Widener, on the steps and plinth on the yard side, we ‘projected’ the audio of the actual voices of the interviewees speaking about their memories onto the neoclassical architecture of the main library and used silent (pantomime) performance to activate the space.
The idea of “day in the life” came up during a group discussion after trying to decide how to collaborate on the same idea, in different cities, using various platforms. This was a topic that everyone seemed to like and find intriguing: it was a simple task that had limitless possibilities. The projects allowed us all to think about our day-to-day routines (a relatively mundane part of our world) from a completely different perspective. Traditional methods of capturing the day-to-day like voiceovers, montage, and background music were used but they were infused with new storytelling tools like the platform storify, social media, and mobile devices. Our individual stories are collectively chronicled through a website, which allows for a more comparative and engaging viewing. We charged ourselves with utilizing the Lefevbrian lens of viewing the city and everyday experience.
Note: this only includes my contribution to the project, but overall concept was created by Tiffany Keough, Amy Shand, Dannielle Thomas and Joe Steele for a class called Documentary Practice and Emerging Media in the School of Media Studies at the New School for Public Engagement in NYC. 2014
Notes from April 1, 2024 [Letters from the Earth]; a sci-fi sensory ethnography in three acts. 2014. TRT 11:19
For the rest of the project, go here
Group project made for mapping assignment. Class is NMDS5540– Documentary Practice and Emerging Media at the New School for Public Engagement in NYC.
Cities have always been sites of change, as centers of population and immigration. The forces of investment and disinvestment continue to be central to themes of transition in neighborhoods– whether they are part of gentrification, change in population, or forces of politics, zoning, and redevelopment.
Our methods of investigation include research, personal narrative, and interpreting archival material. This project includes stories from property owners talking about vacant homes in Atlanta’s West End, a nonprofit arts organization being priced out of the Lower East Side after 20 years, walking the streets of Alphabet City and talking to residents, a gigantic developement at the Armory in Kingsbridge, Bronx, and the story of the Jamaica Plain neighborhood of Boston from the late 19th century to today.
What are the precedents, causes, and antecedents that make these places productive or unproductive? This is the central question of the project ‘Cities in Transition’. We consider owners vs. renters, gentrification and redlining, community activism, and development when addressing these questions. Cities will continue to be crucibles of innovation when facing the challenges of the 21st century, so how do we embrace change while keeping cities affordable and viable to people on the margins?
Amy Shand (LES/BK, NYC), Tiffany Keough (Bronx, NYC), Dannielle Thomas (ATL), Joe Steele (BOS)