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January 26, 2012, by Gaby

Digital Humanities revisited: Public Engagement and the Think Tank Initiative

Amongst many things, Teaching Humanities  wants to celebrate the rich diversity of initiatives, projects and ideas that characterise the lively scholarly community of the School of Humanities. Today’s blog builds on previous discussions of the digital humanities and the rich and diverse links between universities and the creative sector.

The author of this contribution  is Helen Wainwright, currently a PhD candidate within The Department of Art History at The University of Nottingham. Helen is interested in how space and place are cut apart and re-evaluated through certain photographic/filmic practices. Through focusing on the work of Gordon Matta Clark, Anthony McCall and Stephen Shore, the link between early conceptual influences and the ideas associated with the sculptural, cinematic and pictorial, are expanded. As a result, the 1970s in New York can be seen as a particularly diverse moment in Art History, and ideas which were previously disassociated can be joined. The working title of her thesis is:


“To Convert a Place into a State of Mind”[1]

Gordon Matta Clark, Stephen Shore and Anthony McCall: Splitting Surfaces


[1] Gordon Matta Clark, in Mary Jane Jacob, Gordon Matta Clark: A Retrospective, Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, 1985, p.8


ViewThink Tank  PDF




A New Public Engagement Initiative

Building on the ideas discussed in Gaby’s previous blog posts, in which the links between the Humanities, digital media, job prospects and cultural events have been explored, I thought it might be a good time to introduce you to a project I’m currently developing: Think Tank: The Flash Journal. Whilst the motivations behind the project link-in with the above mentioned ideas, we are ultimately aiming to engage a broader general public with their local galleries and museums, too.

This year, Georgie Payne and I (PhD Candidates from Loughborough University and The University of Nottingham, respectively) are working in collaboration with Nottingham Contemporary, a young but highly influential art institution based in the heart of Nottingham city. After noticing that many of the exhibitions held at the gallery came and went without leaving much of a trace, I felt concerned that the memory of influential exhibitions, such as Huang Yong Ping and Star City, would soon dissolve into thin-air. Preservation is a going concern for any art gallery, but Georgie and I wanted to think about it in a more creative way, and hey-presto, Think Tank was born!

Think Tank: The Flash Journal is a collaborative, postgraduate-led e-journal aimed at engaging people (age 16+) from the East Midlands area with the themes and issues on display at Nottingham Contemporary. We actively aspire to involve gallery visitors to think creatively about what is on display; how people may interact with it, and the environment surrounding the gallery, by submitting their own projects to our ‘journal’. We consciously decided to move away from our safety-zone of academic-style journals in order to encourage alternative and imaginative responses to art and gallery environments, with the hope that people will utilise new social media, photography, film, poetry and prose, as first points-of-call for their submissions. So far our contributors have not failed to disappoint, offering us photographs, films, interactive essays and even a sculpture (to be photographed for online publication).

We’re really looking forward to seeing where this project leads, so why not get yourself along to Nottingham Contemporary and see if there’s something there to inspire you? If so, visit our website; submit your idea and we’ll be in touch. Best of all, at our launch event (scheduled for June of this year) the projects will be judged by the audience, with prizes being awarded to 1st (£100), 2nd (£50) and 3rd places (£50). So get your Think Tank caps on and give it a go, what have you got to lose?

Think Tank is also backed by a great team – a committee made-up of postgraduate students from Universities across the East Midlands, and a postgraduate placement holder from The University of Nottingham. They are available to offer support and encouragement to all our submitters, so if you need some advice – let us know!

I’ve also included a few links we’ve used for inspiration, for those interested in what Think Tank may look like as a finished website:


Helen Wainwright


Posted in Digital humanities