Central Saint Martins and the V&A are exploring the archives at Blythe House. As part of the process, in October 2014 the museum’s James Sutton joined Jo Morrison, Elizabeth Wright and the second year MA Design students to discuss some of the research undertaken to date. This swift article uses the theme of ‘frames’, and shares some of the ways in which frames, and the act of framing, were investigated during the workshop.
The purpose of the Blythe House project has been documented in previous articles on Digital Present. This full-day workshop was the first opportunity of the new term for everyone to gather, share, reflect, discuss, clarify, create, focus, imagine, refocus… The morning offered the MA Design cohort a chance to present their research processes thus far, and for each presentation to spark ideas and discussion amongst the whole group. James provided an invaluable perspective due to his direct relationship with the museum and the archive as systems, and also his personal experience of individual objects that students were studying.
The workshop, in part, was revealing and exploring the construction of interpretive frames in ways that help us to make sense of our own world and to represent these physical and digital spaces to others.
In the Digital Age we are used to editing and re-editing images ad infinitum – often without much consideration, i.e. without a critical dimension. In order to make this evident, the cohort were asked to make a decision that could not be revised, and worked in pairs to reframe the boundary within which an A3 printed picture was displayed. In doing so, each couple presented a picture that provided new meaning through its reconstruction. The photograph was taken during their visit to the Blythe House archive earlier in the year, hence when reframing the image, they brought their collective embodied experiences and multiple perspectives to the activity.
Through discussion around the impact of mundane technologies, such as smartphones, on our everyday and learning lives, it became aparent that the students felt the influence of digital devices on the construction of thier own identities, i.e. their conception and expression of themselves.
How we see the world:
I became addicted to Instagram and started seeing everything through a square format.
How our personalities have developed:
Digital technology has helped to form my personality, I’ve been using it since 1998, and it has had a real effect on me.
How we present ourselves to the world:
A selfie tells you nothing about you, yet we see them as truths. It’s dead without being contextualised.
Feeling of freedom when apart from digital devices:
I felt free and refreshed when I lost my phone.
It was acknowledged that our everyday digital technolgies and systems are often hiding in plain view, we take for granted our digital culture even though it impacts upon and shapes most everything we do.
It’s not the iPhone itself that’s the problem, it’s the connection to the internet. The internet is disembodied, limitless, it’s endless.
How do we stop ourselves from being part of constant patterns – of being part of the architecture of the machine?
The internet, smartphones, websites, are made from layers of decision-making. You are presented with a sereis of predetemined frames that impact upon your creative freedom. Similarly the archive has layers of organised information that is codified, and there are suggested ways for you to approach and use the information. So much interpretation and layers of decision-making has taken place before you see the artefact.
Through undertaking this study Central Saint Martins and the V&A are exploring what digital literacy means in an art and design educational setting…and more!