Acts of design: archives, material, & intention in the Circus Oz Living Archive Project

Stanton, R 2014, Acts of design: archives, material, & intention in the Circus Oz Living Archive Project, Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), Media and Communication, RMIT University.

Document type: Thesis
Collection: Theses

Title Acts of design: archives, material, & intention in the Circus Oz Living Archive Project
Author(s) Stanton, R
Year 2014
Abstract This research presents an account of a doctoral inquiry undertaken as an embedded practitioner and researcher, in the context of the Circus Oz Living Archive Project, an interdisciplinary research project conducted at RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia. This project was a three-year investigation into the creation of an online digital ‘living archive’: a collection of historical performance videos, combined with an intention to rethink existing paradigms of contemporary performance archives. As an embedded practitioner and researcher, my doctoral research was led by the question of how might we design a living archive? My approach has been one of research-through-practice, in which I have undertaken the design and creation of a prototype digital archive as both a pragmatic design act and as a research activity. Informed by discourse and literature from a wide range of academic areas, I critically reflect on the work undertaken in the design of this digital archive, in order to investigate some aspects of the roles and agency of an interaction designer engaged in its creation. By bringing together contemporary theories of the performance archive, conceptions of digital practice and digital materiality from the field of Software Studies, and Verbeek’s notion of material hermeneutics (2005), I examine the practice of Interaction Design, in the context of a project concerned with designing and making a contemporary digital performance archive. I argue that the work of a designer in this context is one of mediating hermeneutic relations with the archive through the creation of specific software representations. It is also one of executing agency through the use of performative design artefacts. This is an often opaque, yet powerful role, in which the decisions made by designers—along with the decisions enabled by the work of designers in the day-to-day process of collaboratively making the archive—ultimately affect society’s relation with the archive. The effects of design decisions have implications for contemporary cultural heritage and future cultural understanding. The concept of a ‘living archive’ suggests that the digital archive is not a singular thing to design, but rather an extensible cultural resource that has the capacity to live and be re-designed throughout its life. I also argue that the role of the designer in this process is ultimately one in which they must act with certain intention: in designing a ‘living archive’, designers have a responsibility to engage non-designers in making decisions about the archive’s representation. They also have a responsibility to demystify the process of making software, such that acts of cultural mediation performed by the digital archive can be enacted in well-informed, intentional, and respectful ways.
Degree Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Institution RMIT University
School, Department or Centre Media and Communication
Keyword(s) Interaction Design
Design Methods
Living Archives
Software Studies
Material Hermeneutics
Performative Artefacts
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Created: Fri, 19 Sep 2014, 15:32:57 EST by Maria Lombardo
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