Please wait a few moments while we process your request
Please wait...

David Rokeby, The Giver of Names (1991-)

Documentary Collection

Introduction to the Collection, by Caitlin Jones and Lizzie Muller

Our process:

Artist interview

We developed a combined method for conducting an artist interview that drew together our two research perspectives. The medium independent questions of the Variable Media Questionnaire identified the conceptual and technical aspects of the work which were placed, by Lizzie, within an experiential context. This created a valuable dialogue between “real and ideal.” Framing the discussion in experiential terms enhanced our understanding of why, in certain circumstances, Rokeby had made particular decisions and this frame allowed us to create links between different versions of the work and account for changes that have occurred over time. Additionally, by approaching Rokeby during an installation period, we were able to probe his choices about the technical aspects of the work at the precise moment when variable decisions were being made. This timing further elicited rich and specific details about his experiential goals and assumptions. Our hybrid method allowed us to generate an interview that has clear links to both the audience interviews and the conceptual and technical background information that we have gathered. As such it can act as a lynch-pin for the documentary collection, without claiming to provide a definitive account of the work.

Audience interviews

Using techniques adapted from human-centered design, ethnography and oral history, Lizzie Muller recorded interviews with audience members and museum attendants. The methods and processes used are explained in more detail alongside the records in the archive and in "Towards an oral history of new media art". Each of the audience interviews presents a unique experience of the work, and together they represent a cross section of ages, occupations and self-defined levels of experience with art.

Data structure

Traditional arrangement in archival studies follows a principle of "respect des fonds" meaning that the "original order" in which the records were kept is a key element in maintaining the integrity of a collection of documents. In the case of a 'created collection' however, rules of arrangement of documentation and standardization are less prescribed. Caitlin Jones in "Surveying the state of the art (of documentation)" outlines a number of current data structures proposed by numerous people and organizations working in the field of media art preservation and documentation. The aim of our structure is not to create a hierarchy of information, but to allow for a 'drilling down' of information from the general, to the specific and back, reflecting a more traditional archival arrangement and in keeping with some of the other standards for media art documentation, such as Richard Reinhart's Media Art Notation System (MANS) and V2's Capturing Unstable Media Conceptual Model.

Access points

While it is not our intent to provide an analysis of the data we hope the arrangement and description of the elements will articulate the relationship between audience experience and the conceptual and technical/installed aspects of the work (and vice versa). To achieve this, in the future we hope to provide multiple access points into the information through a series of tags and keywords that will help people make connections within the documentation (between technical details and artist intention, or articulated goals with audience responses).

Caitlin Jones & Lizzie Muller © 2008 FDL