Monday, 7 January 2013

Bricolage and Digital Memory

Bricolage and Digital Memory is a collaborative project between Tim Nowlin (Principal Investigator) and Jefferson Smith funded by an Insight Research Development Grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC).  The project intends to provide a deeper understanding of the ways in which the web, as a cultural artifact, influences our sense of self, our memories and our relationship to art; how the digital experience transforms the traditional views on these issues; and from this to gather a glimpse of where digital existence may be leading the human cultural aesthetic over the next half century.

The project seeks to develop an understanding of the roles of memory, forgetting and cultural detritus as they manifest in the digital reality by inhabiting and exploring the collective cultural memory of the World Wide Web as a technological or mnemonic regime that affects the nature and content of that collective memory.  We intend to use existing tools such as Photoshop to create digital collages similar to handmade collages as well as create new tools such as the Bric-o-browser, a special browser designed for rummaging the internet for artifacts and fragments of live websites in order to apply the creative process of bricolage, or collage-making, to that collective memory.  As an application that allows a capturing of fragments of live websites, the Bric-o-browser will create digital collages that have a temporal component and reflect the forgetting aspect of the net by changing over time as sites and content change or fall into disuse.

In the first year of the project, The Insight Research Development Grant has allowed us to hire two Masters students from the Department of Computing Science at the University of Saskatchewan - Faham Negini and Aryan Zahoorian.  While Aryan has mentored me in the use of Photoshop to create collages digitally, Faham has been working on the creation of the Brico-o-browser which he has recently adapted to a Mac platform.  We have run some tests and, despite a few bugs, have successfully created a collage from segments of live websites.

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