[ISEA2011] Paper: Catherine Moriarty & Chris Wild — From Archive to Retroscope: pushing forward resource integration


The University of Brighton Design Archives has created over 6,000 digital images in recent years, making visible to wide audiences highlights from one of the largest libraries of industrial design photography in the world. Repurposing these images to enhance their research and learning potential is an ongoing ambition and this paper discusses a major step forward in this respect, a collaboration with one of the most exciting innovations in the resource delivery landscape, The Retroscope, a ‘visual time machine’ that offers a way of surfing time online by integrating images, moving images and sound in chronological and spatial arrangements for people to explore, add to and curate.

The Retroscope has partnerships with many leading archives, including Getty’s Hulton Archive, the Bridgeman Art Library, the Central Office of Information and the BBC. The Retroscope is due to be launched in 2011 and has attracted considerable attention already, described by Ed Vaizey, Minister for Culture as ‘the next big thing’ and by John Mitchinson, Director of Research, QI as ‘one of the richest uses yet for the web’.

This paper describes how a University collection can work outside the educational sector to push the boundaries in terms visibility and currency and to make more porous the perceived boundaries between conventional educational environments and other, more public, venues for learning. Indeed, joining forces with The Retroscope presents a high prolife opportunity for Design Archives resources to reach audiences unimaginable alone. What might this advance in digital curation mean for arts education and research and for cross-sector dialogue? How can the situation of archival data in a merged spatial and chronological delivery environment (as opposed to the rigid conventions of archival hierarchies) inform new thinking in the arts and humanities? How might a collaboration of this kind provoke research challenges and opportunities? These are some of the questions this paper will address. It will also be the first public presentation of the outcomes of this project.   brighton.ac.uk/designarchives      retronaut.com

Full text (PDF) p. 1751-1755 [slightly different title]