Analogue/Digital: Productive Tensions in Materiality and Archaeology

I’m so excited to be able to announce a forthcoming roundtable that Colleen Morgan, Laia Pujol-Tost, Kathryn Killackey and myself are hosting at the European Association of Archaeologists (EAA) conference in Glasgow, 2-5 September, 2015. We would like to extend an invitation for participation to all of you in the archaeology and heritage communities who are grappling with questions around the nature and future of analogue/digital material relations. 

In other words, are you investigating issues at the intersections of the physical and the ephemeral? Are you enrolling digital technologies into the production of tangible experiences, or alternatively, aiming to better understand the digital through tangible forms of interaction? Have you eschewed the digital in favour of analogue engagements in your archaeological/heritage work – or have you rethought the dimensions of one via experimentation with the other? How are you materialising digital practices? And how is our very conception of materiality being reconfigured (or not) by analogue/digital innovation?

We seek reflections on how physical materials and digital materials are shaping one another, how these intersections are altering the unique dimensions of each, and how such work is shifting (or solidifying) human understandings of the ‘real’, the ‘thing’, the ‘fact’, presence, embodiment and knowledge-making more generally.

Given that archaeologists are understood as the experts on material culture and materiality, we want to dissect and anticipate how we contribute to conceptual and methodological discussions about the context of, continuities between, and technological changes to physical and digital artefacts.

We are in the distinctive position of being able to extend our roundtable beyond the bounds of the EAA, to engage the wider anthropological community prior to the conference. In August, selected short position papers will be posted on Savage Minds, the eminent anthropology blog, to establish and foment a broader discussion regarding existing and emergent media in archaeological interpretation. More detail on the nature of the position papers and their dissemination through Savage Minds will be circulated to participants following confirmation of your contribution to the roundtable.

Conference participation MUST be confirmed by 16 February, 2015, at the EAA Glasgow website: http://eaaglasgow2015.com/

For questions, email colleen.morgan@york.ac.uk

Roundtable Title: Analogue/Digital: Productive Tensions in Materiality and Archaeology

Organizers:
Colleen Morgan
Sara Perry
Laia Pujol-Tost
Kathryn Killackey

Due Date: February 16, 2015

Abstract:

As we integrate digital workflows into every aspect of archaeological methodology, it is increasingly apparent that we are all digital archaeologists (Morgan and Eve 2012). Yet archaeology has a long, productive and unfinished history with “analogue” media. Illustration, photography, dioramas, casts, paper-based maps, diagrams, charts and artistic renderings have all been – and continue to be – used to interpret and present archaeology to specialist and general audiences. Walter Benjamin argued that reproductive media destroys the “aura” of traditional artistic media (1968), and it has since been argued (Bolter et al. 2006) that digital media perpetuates a permanent crisis of this aura. As the premiere scholars of materiality, archaeologists can contribute to discussions of the context of, continuities between, and technological changes to these media artefacts. In this session we ask, in what ways are we using the digital in constructive interplay with the analogue? What can digital affordances reveal about analogue methodologies, and vice versa? And how are we pushing beyond skeuomorphic archaeological recording and rethinking the possibilities of media artefacts overall? We aim here to prompt reflective debate about, and speculative design of, the future of analogue/digital experimentation.

We hope you’ll join us! Please spread the word and contribute to the conversation (both at the EAA and on Savage Minds) by confirming your participation.

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Last Call: Objects & Images, The Hague 2010

Katherine Leckie and I have just learned that the EAA has extended its deadline for abstract submissions for its 2010 conference in The Hague, Netherlands, 1-5 September 2010.  Paper proposals are now due by 23 May via the EAA’s online system.  As I mentioned before, we’re very excited to be hosting a session at the EAAs on visualisation and materialisation in the history of the archaeological discipline.  Our session currently includes archaeologists, art historians, anthropologists and museum specialists, and we still have a couple of extra spaces for others (from any field!) who would be interested to contribute.

Objects and images in the history of archaeology

Research into the history of archaeology is often an offshoot of the discipline, tucked into the sidelines of everyday practice. As a result, our method and theory can often seem overly presentist, reveling in the apparent novelty of current-day approaches. Arguably, this presentism is especially obvious in visual and object-oriented enquiry in archaeology, whose currency nowadays might imply that such concerns with materiality are a recent addition to the field. However, even the briefest look at the history of the discipline testifies to the longstanding embroilment of visualisation and materialisation in archaeology’s evolution. What is important is that there are a range of innovative approaches now in use (by historically-minded archaeologists and others) which aim to untangle these relationships, illuminating the place of images and objects in the discipline’s intellectual and material development.

This session aims to begin laying out the case for a rich and deep history of visual and material operation in the archaeological field. We endeavour to demonstrate not only that visualisation and materialisation have been
entangled in archaeology from its most embryonic moments, but that this history continues to impact on current practice. The papers in this session seek to examine these entanglements, drawing parallels between different artefact types and their roles in the development of the discipline. We aim to highlight various methodologies, from museum collections analysis to graphic study to historic archival research. Themes that we look to explore include visualisation, the creation of artefacts, and the circulation and categorisation of objects–our aim being to address such questions as:
– What role do objects and images play in archaeology and its historical development?
– How have collecting and exhibiting practices enabled the formalisation of the discipline?
– How is archaeological knowledge made through material and visual culture?

Anyone who is interested may also be keen to participate in HARN (Histories of Archaeology Research Network), upon whose Executive Committee both Katherine and I sit.  HARN meets a couple of times per year in the UK, but has a growing membership from around the world, as well as an active mailing list.  The topic of our EAA session has figured into many conversations and presentations at HARN meetings, and we’re eager to hear from others with similar interests.

European Association of Archaeologists conference, 2010

Katherine Cooper-Leckie of the University of Cambridge and I just got fabulous news that our session proposal has been accepted for the upcoming European Association of Archaeologists (EAA) conference in The Hague, Netherlands, 1-5 September 2010.  The call for papers is now open, and I’ve posted our abstract below:

Objects and images in the history of archaeology

Research into the history of archaeology is often an offshoot of the discipline, tucked into the sidelines of everyday practice. As a result, our method and theory can often seem overly presentist, reveling in the apparent novelty of current-day approaches. Arguably, this presentism is especially obvious in visual and object-oriented enquiry in archaeology, whose currency nowadays might imply that such concerns with materiality are a recent addition to the field.

However, even the briefest look at the history of the discipline testifies to the longstanding embroilment of visualisation and materialisation in archaeology’s evolution. What is important is that there are a range of innovative approaches now in use (by historically-minded archaeologists and others) which aim to untangle these relationships, illuminating the place of images and objects in the discipline’s intellectual and material development.

This session aims to begin laying out the case for a rich and deep history of visual and material operation in the archaeological field. We endeavour to demonstrate not only that visualisation and materialisation have been entangled in archaeology from its most embryonic moments, but that this history continues to impact on current practice. The papers in this session seek to examine these entanglements, drawing parallels between different artefact types and their roles in the development of the discipline. We aim to highlight various methodologies, from museum collections analysis to graphic study to historic archival research. Themes that we look to explore include visualisation, the creation of artefacts, and the circulation and categorisation of objects–our aim being to address such questions as:

– What role do objects and images play in archaeology and its historical development?

– How have collecting and exhibiting practices enabled the formalisation of the discipline?

– How is archaeological knowledge made through material and visual culture?

Under the banner of the Visualisation in Archaeology project, Garry Gibbons and Rob Read are also hosting a roundtable on “Visualising Archaeology: Towards a European Perspective on Skills Requirements and Provision” at the EAA meeting, so it looks like it’s going to be an exciting conference!