June 28, 2017, by Matt Davies
DHC’S ‘Then and Now’ exhibition, by Macayla Ford Madden and Matt Davies.
One of the DHC’s great accomplishments of the 2016-17 academic year was the ‘Then and Now’ exhibition which took place in April. Here DHC student blogger Macayla Ford Madden and manager Matt Davies look back on what was without a doubt the highlight culmination of a great year of DHC student volunteering.
With the support and guidance of Leonardo Fellow Amber Forrest, Art Historian Nick Alfrey and DHC manager Matt Davies the DHC’s hard working and enthusiastic student volunteers led by Sanchari Banerjee, Marina Phelps and Jamie Shakespeare curated the DHC’s first on-site exhibition.
The exhibition was called ‘Then and Now’ and used old school carousel projectors to project 35mm slides of landmarks and places of interest in Nottinghamshire alongside contemporary digital images of the same places using up to date digital projectors.
The slides were selected by the team from the Humanities’ 80,000 strong slide collection which is housed in DHC and which Nick Alfrey has written about previously for Digital Dialogues. They included famous depictions of the city by artists including J.M.W. Turner (watch out for an Inspiring Slides post on this particular piece coming soon) and Jan Siberechts, but many were also selected from the collection’s architecture section (bequeathed to the university by Alec Daykin in 2000)
The digital images were captured by volunteers who roamed the county with DHC digital cameras, or they were downloaded (and fully attributed of course) from Flickr, and in one case created using photoshop -by one of the volunteers. Before the exhibition the team had also collected reactions to the images from a wide variety of people, which they used to narrate this visual journey through Nottinghamshire.
From the 4-7th April the synchronised projections ran side by side in the DHC itself, whilst the information and printed images were mounted in the Humanities building’s busy communal atrium space. The atrium work was organised thematically with themes including ‘Religion and Space’, which tracked changes to spiritual buildings and artifacts, and ‘Landscape and History’, which documented the development of Nottingham’s buildings and scenery.
However, for the private view which took place on the evening of April 3rd the DHC team set up the projections in the Atrium. This involved mounting huge sheets of white paper on the atrium’s iconic purple tower (OK, so it’s a lift shaft – but it is becoming kind of iconic!) and projecting in an area by its very nature very well lit – which is not conducive to projecting! The team pulled it off and the evening was a resounding success, attended by people from communities within and outside the University. Jamie, Nick and Amber gave fascinating introductions to the work and guests had a fantastic evening taking in the journey of the city, mingling, and engaging in the ‘Then and Now’ conversation. Images of the evening can be found on DHC’s flickr page here.
Curating and presenting ‘Then and Now’ allowed Arts students the opportunity to examine and present images of their adopted University city using old and new images but also old and new teaching technology – and it is worth remembering that to this generation of students the digital is ubiquitous, the analogue a rarity, hence the ‘old tech’ is the new! The exhibition also encapsulated one of the processes of the DHC, and indeed digital humanities; using the most up to date technology, archiving and display methods to preserve and present old, as well as new, media.
Overall, the project was a great culmination of the work and experience of the 2016-17 volunteer team and a fantastic way to round off their year in DHC.