Young Curators, Digital Design & The Living Archive

Project Syllabus


This Pivotal Arts Studio (previously FOMACS) and Chester Beatty Library project pioneers a creative arts module encouraging young people, inclusive of 1st/2nd generation Chinese living in Ireland, to explore the growing interplay between visual art curation and new media skills in the creation of a group exhibit marrying creative practice and digital design.

Building on ‘China Through the Lens of John Thomson’, a Wellcome Trust photographic exhibition of 19th century Chinese men, women & children, participants will align the practices of street and self-portraiture with the opportunities afforded by new digital platforms to contextualise, transform and display images in a networked culture.

Please see below for module schedule taking place across 5 days beginning 11 July at the Chester Beatty Library, Dublin.

* Mentoring towards the completion of a group exhibit occurs at points throughout the summer period.
  1. Wednesday 11 July

    1. 9.00am: Introduction to the module and each other

    2. 9.45am: Turning the Museum Inside Out

      Walking tour of the Chester Beatty mediated through its custodians: security staff, volunteers, cleaners, head of education, assistant curator to the Western collections, head of rights and reproductions - a deliberate horizontal rather than top-down approach to ‘reading the workings of the museum’.

      Aim of Session

      • Understanding the full ecology of the museum: who and what makes the CBL live, breathe and move in and out of opening hours from day to day, season to season.
      • Reflecting on how museums build relationships with their public – what is prioritized and why?
    3. 11.30am: Break

    4. 12pm: Feeding the Museum – the Silk Road Café (Jenny Siung)

      Meeting with patron and staff of the Silk Road Café

      Aim of Session

      • Understanding the cultural significance of food in a museum context.
      • What role does food play in both activating the senses and facilitating comfort in an institutional setting, enabling visitors to feel more ‘at home’?
      • How is the café read as an exhibition in itself?
      • How can food and nourishment form part of the curatorial plan and design for the museum?
    5. 12.45pm: Software Orientation

      (Igor Kochajkiewicz)

      Introduction to the digital platforms and technologies relevant to the purposes of the project.

    6. 1.30pm: Lunch

    7. 3.00pm: Photography workshop & fieldwork in the city

      Aim of Session

      • Learning the skills, art, ethics and challenges of photography in public spaces
      • Engaging with the city as a fieldsite
      • Framing people and places
      • Negotiating gatekeepers and members of the public
      • Identifying good composition in short time-frames
    8. 6.00pm: Finish

  2. Thursday 12 July

    1. 9.00am: What is an Archive?

      (Roberta McGrath)

      Aim of Session

      • To learn how to read photographs critically and to gain an introduction to the following thematic areas:
      • The Body and the Archive
      • Working with Archives
      • The Living Archive
      • Thinking in Pictures.
    2. 12.45pm: Lunch

    3. 2.00pm: From Digital to Analogue and Back Again

      (Igor Kochajkiewicz)

      Multi-media presentation on media licensing, ways of sharing work online and using photography in your own projects – from commissioned work to stock images, “free” photography and remix culture (for example: RIP Remix Manifesto, work of Shepard Fairey & other stencil/ street artists). Also covered is how stencil and collage images are created using digital tools to manipulate photographs.

    4. 2.45pm: The John Thomson Archive

      (Roberta McGrath)

      Aim of Session

      • Practice-based activities deriving from the Thomson archive
      • Linking image and object-based collections
    5. 5.00pm: Finish

  3. Friday 13 July

    1. 9.00am: Whose Archive?

       (Roberta McGrath)

      Aim of Session

      • Seeing with words
      • Thinking in pictures
      • To learn how context, historical and contemporary, produces meaning
    2. 1pm: Lunch

    3. 2.00pm: Picturing Things Differently

      (Roberta McGrath)

      Aim of Session

      • Group discussion
      • Finalise image selection
    4. 3.30pm: Break

    5. 3.45pm: Internet researching the Wellcome Trust Archive and a feedback session

    6. 5.00pm: Finish

  4. Monday 16 July

    1. 9.00am: Re-Imagining in Practice: Archives, Place and Technologies

      (Roshini Kempadoo)

      Aim of Session

      • Introduce examples of creative photographic/screen-based interventions using historical material
      • Interplay between own creative contributions and the John Thomson exhibit for inspiration - re-sampling and re-envisioning as photography projects.
    2. 12.45pm: Lunch

    3. 2.00pm: Web apps and tools for creatives

      (Igor Kochajkiewicz)

      Presentation on various web-based tools useful to young creatives. From micro-blogging, image bookmarking & digital scrapbooking to collecting resources, viewing tutorials and exercises, the web is brimming with choices of applications designed to make our workflows more efficient and lives easier. We will show his favourite apps in action, making the case that social does not have to be synonymous with Facebook & Twitter.

    4. 2.45pm: One on one feedback sessions and practical exercises

      (Roshini Kempadoo)
    5. 5.00pm: Finish

  5. Tuesday 17 July

    1. 9.00am: Homework Review

      (Roshini Kempadoo)
    2. 11.15am: Exploring being an editor of your projects

      (Roshini Kempadoo)

      Aim of Session

      • To learn how to conceive photography projects for screen and print
    3. 1.00pm: Lunch

    4. 2.00pm: Practicalities of Photography Projects for Screen and Print

      (Igor Kochajkiewicz and Roshini Kempadoo)

      Aim of Session

      • Understanding practical aspects of working on photography projects: Blurb books, assembling portfolios, etc.
      • To appreciate how to construct and foster an online presence
    5. 5.00pm: Finish

Reading List

  1. Required
  2. Hustvedt, Siri. Notes on Seeing, (accessed 4 July, 2012)