Archive Page 2

Oral History Projects Overview P.1

Here are a few favorites. All online access.  All using maps.

Founded in 1997, Densho is dedicated to the preservation and access of oral history materials on the Japanese American Incarceration during World War II. Developed by information technology executives this collection includes access to over 400 digitally native video histories and is one of the most comprehensive digital archives of its kind. As an archive its primary role is to provide access to this primary course material. However, they have also crafted more specific sections that highlight content in a more exhibition based format. These featured spaces exist as their own linked sites and highlight content around specific content areas like Sites of Shame, which focuses on content linked to internment camp locations. This particular project uses maps as a point of connectivity to bring together the life stories of WWII era Japanese-Americans.

Project Jukebox is collection of over thirty online oral history exhibits that developed in response to The University of Alaska, Fairbanks’ 1988 digital preservation project, funded by Apple Computers. This oral history project integrates oral histories, maps, and associated content to create topical online oral history exhibitions that highlight various regions of Alaska and provide researchers, educators, and the general public an opportunity to encounter the rich histories of the people and places of Alaska and the Polar Regions. Their first project went live online in 2000 and projects continue to develop today.

[Murmur] is a Toronto based oral history project that uses geographical locations as points of collective memory and shares the untold stories hidden in the urban landscape. It began in 2003 as a community based initiative and has grown to include nine different neighborhoods in the Toronto area as well as a number of international sites including São Paulo, Dublin, and San Jose. These oral histories are available online but their content is also available via a guide by cell option on location so that visitors can experience the stories of the city within their originating context.

The Oakland Chinatown Oral History Project was developed in 2007 as an elder interview project conducted by high school youth. The project emphasizes the importance of sharing these intergenerational stories of life and the development of community in the Chinatown area over the years. These oral history interviews were then paired with photographs of the local area and placed on a memory map or the area. These points are categorized and made navigable by era. They invite participants to join in the process by emailing their own submissions.

Lastly, The Interview Project is a happenstancial Oral History venture by director David Lynch. Though it does not meet the guidelines of traditional Oral history research methodologies, interviewing passers by at random on a road trip around the United States, its interface design and accessibility is notable. As the collection grows each interview is mapped on the location where it took place and is also searchable in a number of ways on the website.

Though wildly different in content these online oral history initiatives share abundant commonalities and have all been developed to meet the specific goals and needs of their respective communities. Though each project was created in accordance with an institutional goal they all use supporting documents,  photos or text, and employ the use of  maps as a way to spatially contextualize their content in the virtual space.

More to come…


to explicate

A short synopsis of both  Jacques Tati’s film Play Time and Rancière’s The Ignorant Schoolmaster.

Putting an Exhibit online vs. Creating an Online Exhibit


There are many advantages to making oral histories available online including increased access to collections, thematic context capabilities, hyperlinks to related content, and the availability of supportive multi-media material.  However, as learning tools and sites for potential engagement these oral histories must be exhibited in ways that make their content accessible, associative, and navigable within a virtual context. The associations made evident through an exhibition’s design and interview content can be further strengthened by a visitor/user’s ability to navigate the content in an intuitive manner, especially if the exhibition is primarily web based. When crafting an exhibition for a virtual space it is important that the design and development process not neglect the need for dialogic association, usability, and access.

Joshua Dector, in his contribution to The Discursive Museum, points out the relationship between a museums virtual presence to its public face in an urban context, “de- or re-territorializing the traditional locus of the museum into the ‘body’ of the city;  endeavoring to broaden the potential of the museum to engage in unusual and unexpected interventions and interplays with the surrounding environment. This de-territorialization does not have to unfold exclusively in relation to the literal space of the city. Indeed, it can also unfold in relation to the space of the internet, as museums take advantage of the possibility of extending themselves into virtual territory.”

Don’t just put and exhibit online,  create an online Exhibit and while your at it find a way to bridge the gap between the collection, the content, the site, and the visitor. Ok, but how? Not sure but I think social media and personal experience has SOMETHING to do with it Especial when working with interactive oral history collections. The oral historian Willa Baum defines community as “…a social network of people with some common interests and ties. It may be geographical, it may be occupational, or it may be around an idea.” So Why not engage the museum community with its urban context.

The ability to utilize social media as a dynamic interpretive method speaks to the polyphonic influence of oral history’s ability to facilitate cumulative dialogue and act as a an extension of the museum’s public face. The mobility of social media interaction disperses the public awareness of living histories and recognizes the role of the individual as a contributing element to the museums developmental process. “Moving elements in a city, and in particular the people and their activities, are as important as its stationary parts. We are not simply observers of this spectacle, but are ourselves a part of it, on the stage with other participants. Most of our perception of the city is not sustained, but rather partial, fragmentary, mixed with other concerns. Nearly every sense is an operation, and the image is the composite of them all.”[1]

If your looking to broaden your sense of humanity and  give me a gift, send me one of these. There currently out of print and kind of spendy.

[1] Peter Noever, The Discursive Museum,(MAK Stubenring: Hatje Cantz Verlag: 2001), 83-97

The hour that the ship comes In.

Like the stillness in the wind before the hurricane  begins….indeed.

I stopped updating this site about a year ago when I hit the ground running with summer internships, thesis stuffs, and general craziness. After a sleepless New York  summer  I returned to Seattle where, within a week, started two new jobs and my second year of school – my LAST year of school. Thats the catch up – short and sweet.

While I wait for my audio projects to render I thought I should take some time to write up a short update on my thesis work with the Center for Wooden Boats. Though the original idea was highly conceptual and crutched heavily on elements of psycho-geography and its role in the development of social media in online exhibits it has slowly morphed, and continues to do so every day.

But for now, here we are…

The Center for Wooden Boats is actively engaged in documenting the culture and history of the wooden boat community. They are also committed to making their collections available to public through inovative educational programs and online initiatives. Although a number of their oral histories are currently available online, as are many items in their physical collection, the relationships between these virtual spaces and the content they represent remain spatially disjoint. This project was created to offer visitors with variable methods of interaction by developing a new strategy for access, usability, and engagement with the CWB’s History of the Craft Oral History Collection and, in turn, their collections and communities as a whole.

I have been working with the CWB to design and build an interactive map of a series of Oral Histories collected by UW Museology Graduate Shelly Levens as part of her Thesis project. This provided a finite collection of non-object based works to be mapped in this new format. This map, coupled with a moderated social media component( woices), will eventually create a space for members of the Wooden Boat community to visually and aurally navigate through their collective histories. This project is intended to animate and contextualize the rich oral history collection they have already collected and develop an interactive component that could continue to grow the collection through community modeling and new methods of spatial engagement.

The map is organized by location and content, focusing on one oral history per site with peripheral content surrounding that history. This content will then will also be linked to other items in the CWB’s Online Museum and local content when available. Icons are placed at key points along the waterway in conjunction with where the oral histories are referenced. When a visitor clicks on an icon an overlay box appears with a playlist of related content (audio, images, links, etc.) giving this non-object based item a base context in regards to its location, community, and role in the CWB’s collection.

Excerpts from each of these locations will also be mapped on location using a program called Woices, a social network that maps “echoes” or audio recordings. The program itself is a lot like Flickr, but for audio. It allows you to create groups, record stories on location, or upload files on your home computer to a particular location. There is also an option to create a walk, a playlist and corresponding map, that one can follow as an audio tour or story walk. Walks can be created using the content from the CWB collection as well as with audio visitors record themselves. Visitors can pick and choose stories and create their own personalized walks. These echoes and walks would then be available for listening on site in the very environs where they took place. This ability to engage with a story on location, and the opportunity to record your own response or story, strengthens ones connection to place and helps build a greater community context for that story.

The Woices element would be introduced on the interactive map page along with instructions on the various ways in which one can engage with the collection. Visitors would be able to peruse, in geographical context, the items on the site then go out and discover the stories on location. A printable map will also be available for print with instructions on how to locate, listen to, and engage with the asynchronous dialogue using the online experience as a model for interaction. This interactive map coupled with the Woices component would further expand the CWB’s current visibility , help make the collection more accessible, and provide a model for informed oral history contributions via social media in the future.

When I first started the project I felt that it would have a lot more to do with the psycho-geographical ties between story and place. However, I have found that what I’ve been trying to explore is the ways in which collections are accessed online and the relationships between the online and on-site experience in terms of design, navigation, and connectivity.

My new question is now more concerned with how to design for non-object based collections for a museum whose mission and  collection revolves around craft and interaction. The center for wooden boats in a small site with a BROAD reach. This is my new focus and we’ll see what comes of it.

Couldn’t Ask for Better Advice…from YOU!

This is a guest post Written by UW Museology Graduate Student Nicole Robert on an exhibition that will be on view June 6 to June 8 in the HUB, 9 am to 6 pm. 3552590147_ef4975ff7e

Have you ever received a piece of phenomenally bad advice? What advice would you share with graduating students this year? We want to know! I and thirteen other UW museology graduate students have been given six weeks, $300 and 72 hours in an exhibition space to create an art installation that includes you.

Advice: Give it, Get it, Flip it, Fuck it is built around your advice. Advice Logo Unlike traditional museum displays that are organized around an artist or story, this exhibit is literally constructed around your contributions. In a class taught by Nina Simon were challenged to create a display that would facilitate interactions between strangers.

We knew that the exhibit would run in the UW HUB during the week leading up to graduation, so we wanted to develop something that would be relevant to students at the end of the year without being cheesy. The result is an exhibit about advice. Advice necessarily involves a transfer of knowledge from one person to another—an interpersonal interaction—so both the format and the ubiquity of advice make it a great structuring concept for our goals. Once advice was selected as the over-arching structure, we needed a way to collect advice (the content of the exhibit) and to build physical interactions into the exhibit. Our first step is to invite virtual participation.

Here is where you can help us! Visit our website to find out how you can contribute video, photos, voice recordings or written advice. And tell your friends! Your advice will literally shape the physical exhibit. Rather than inviting participation that led to one result, for example seeing your advice posted in the exhibit, we wanted to create something that would build on your advice, and continue to engage participation. Here are some of the interactives planned for the exhibit:

Visitors will be allowed to either act as a professional advice giver or to seek advise from pre-scheduled “expert.” Each ‘advisor’ would be able to change the plaque on the confessional to reflect what they feel their relevant personal advice-giving characteristics are (i.e “Ask a single black mother,” “Ask a working artist,” “Ask a doctor” etc.) Advice-seekers would simply approach and ask anything they want. Schedules listing our solicited advice-givers will be posted in the booth and on the tumblr page. Signage would indicate that whenever the expert “out” that you can step in and be the expert.

Visitors will create advice Mad-Lib style, by vetting requested sentence components (noun, verb, adjective) and then having these placing these into well-known adages (i.e. “always ______ before you _______” or “a ________ in the hand is worth two in the _________.”) These wacky ‘remixed’ adages will then be pressed into buttons for the visitors to wear/take home.

Visitors will write advice to the masses onto either a real or contrived “bathroom wall.” They will be encouraged by signage to share great/horrible advice and to cross-off, comment upon and remix others statements– just about what people do on normal bathroom walls. GIVE ME SOMETHING TO GO ON Visitors will be able to post questions that they want responses to in available free spaces on glass cases and other visitors will be able to cluster responses (written on glass of cases? on post-its?) around these questions. Exhibit attendants will be the only ones allowed to remove/delete questions, and this should happen once room to respond runs out. Attendants will also photo-capture images of these displays for the tumblr page. Signage will encourage people to leave questions in the free spaces and respond. We will be documenting our design experiment, so be sure to follow us on And if you are in Seattle, come visit our exhibit, on display from June 6 to June 8 in the HUB, 9 am to 6 pm. Whether you come online or in person, we need your advice! thanks Nicole – now for some advice on anger from the Golden Girls

Can museums learn from games?

Over the past few weeks myself and several other Museologists have been working to put together a workshop/lecture/ exhibit around the themes of games, play, and advice in museums.

Ken Eklund, award winning game author and designer, will discuss what new collaborative and immersive online games can teach museums about fostering peer learning, imaginative play and transformed perception of self and others. The free program takes place Saturday afternoon, June 6th at the Henry Art Gallery Auditorium.  At 2:00 pm, Eklund will lecture about alternate reality games and the lessons they hold for museums that seek to become more relevant and participatory in a socially networked world, and follow his lecture with a workshop at 3:00 pm exploring how a game designer might approach exhibit design challenges of engagement and interaction.

Ken Eklund is the designer of the groundbreaking alternate reality game WORLD WITHOUT OIL.  This timely serious game challenged players to creatively and collaboratively solve a simulated global oil crisis. In a recent interview with Culture Hacker at the Workbook Project, Ken describes what he does as “creating life-changing and world-saving games.”

This student organized seminar is presented by University of Washington Museology Graduate Program with generous support from the Henry Art Gallery.  Admission is free and open to the public, all you have to do is register real quick here!

Following the program, participants are invited to an opening reception for Advice an experimental student exhibit at the University of Washington Student Union Building (HUB).

WHEN:  Saturday, June 6th, 2009, 2:00 pm (lecture); 3:00 pm (workshop)
WHERE: Henry Art Gallery 4100 15th Ave NE Seattle, WA 98195
COST: Free, register at
CONTACT:  Kylie Pine,

The even is now officially on the Henry art Gallery’s Calender and you cn put it on your by clicking the ADD button on the side bar, just don’t forget to register!

Heading East for the Summer

A short while ago I had the opportunity to visit PS1. It was awe-and-then-some.

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Prior to my visit I had submitted an application for their summer internship program  because i had seen/heard good things about the institution. Little did I know that it would feel so familiar. The exhibitions I encountered were truly extraordinary in form and content.  I also really enjoyed the art as education / exhibition as encounter feeling one gets upon entering the space. The interplay of arts institutions as educational spaces is uncompromisingly contemporary, and creates a quirky and engaging space for visitors. Picture 1

I am more than thrilled to announce that I will be working as an Installation intern his summer. Having the opportunity to learn more about installation, exhibition design, art handling, and institution registration in such a dynamic and innovative (not to mention TOTALLY RAD) institution is going to blow my mind in the best of ways. Picture 4

In addition to their current exhibitions P.S.1  offers a totally new museum experience come summer with their Young Architects Program exhibition/installation and a unique concert series, Warm-Up. You can check out more info on past series on their website and take a 3D media tour of last years events.Picture 7

Perfect? Yes. I don’t think I could have asked for anything more Whitney appropriate than to work in a contemporary arts center that hosts totally boss dance parties. I start June 15th. I leave June 13th – the day after Bike Friday at the Henry. Its going to be a long next couple of weeks, of that I am certian. Picture 6

Play Art Loud!
I'm also a contributor to the Henry Art Gallery's Hankblog and editor/producer of the Gallery's ArtCasts.

I'm currently working as a Wallace Foundation Fellow with emp|sfm to foster a new network for the NorthWest all ages music & arts community. Its called The Sound Board and you should totally check it out.

word bird.