Sketches, e-mails or other kinds of correspondence, annual accounts, meeting reports, photos, etc. Sometimes these materials are scattered all over the place, with some at home and some in your studio or storage unit, in a cupboard or on your Google Drive. The organisation process starts with creating an overview of what that distribution looks like, potentially including the size and condition of your archive and/or collection(s). Just recording where everything is is half the work.
Based on the overview, you can establish a filing plan, a kind of ‘folder structure’. You’ll discover that it won’t take long to come up with a few categories on your own, such as, for example, Projects, Exhibitions, Accounting, Rights, Grant Applications and Preliminary Studies. Within these categories you can make additional subdivisions, based on themes or chronological order, afterwards labelling them according to their archive media type (photographs, drawings, etc.). This kind of sound, clear structure is the basis for organising your archive physically or digitally by category, preferably acid-free or in a long-term file format. It can also act as the foundation of an inventory of your archive.
Every archive is unique, which means that the structure created by other artists or organisations to organise their work can’t be applied wholesale. However, those structures can serve as a source of inspiration. CKV can provide you with this kind of archive plan [documents link]. TRACKS has assembled several different models on its website. These can provide you with inspiration when organising your own archive.
More information about digital organising is available on TRACKS (in Dutch): https://www.projecttracks.be/nl/tools/detail/maak-een-ordeningsplanmappenstructuur
You can download the data from your Instagram account and store it on a hard drive. To do this, visit your Instagram account on your computer. Select ‘Privacy and Security’ from the settings. Next, click ‘data download’. Enter the e-mail address to which Instagram can send all your data. A zip file with your Instagram data will be in your mailbox within 48 hours. Unzip the file and save all the data to a folder on your computer. What you get is a kind of ‘grab bag’ – a collection of different folders with your photos, stories or videos and separate files with comments, likes and profile data.
However, downloading really is not the same as archiving. For the time being, there aren’t any tools or methods for sustainably archiving Instagram data. It’s for that reason that MeeMoo [https://meemoo.be/en], with CKV as a partner, will submit an application in March 2020 for a project grant to initiate a social media sustainable archiving practice. To be continued!
Do you store data to manage and use on a daily basis? If that’s the case, then you work with common data management formats such as .docx, .pptx or .mp4. When considering the future, however, these documents should (also) be stored in a different, more long-term format. There’s often more than one answer to the question about which storage format is best suited to storing a specific file. It depends on how much data you’re interested in storing and how much time you want to spend on digitising, converting, transferring and/or saving. TRACKS offers an overview of the available options, ranging from text files to technical drawings.
Hopefully, this brief overview will help you along the way. The following file formats are recommended for the following media: text files in PDF /A, tables in .xls(x), .xml or .csv. and presentations in .xml or .svg. Photos can be stored in .tiff, sound clips in .wav or .pcm and video in .mxf.
You can find out more on TRACKS : https://www.projecttracks.be/nl/tools/detail/bestandsformaten-en-codecs
Why you are digitising in the first place is what determines the answer to this question. Would you like to digitise your analogue documents and photos to provide your website with the necessary image material? Or have you noticed that you need easy digital access to past loan documents to make clear agreements about a new exhibition? Would digitised pieces allow you to collaborate on a new project online with other artists? Your day-to-day work alone inspires a multitude of reasons for digitising your archive and work.
However, digitising your archive is also incredibly useful in the long term. Does your archive contain pieces that were stored improperly, so that the only way to save them for the future is to digitise them? What would you like to make digitally accessible to researchers or a wider public? Because you can display ‘infinitely’ large collections to the public online, without having to rely on a physical storage place. In addition to accessibility and visibility, digitisation also contributes to more secure archive management. While it’s never the same as the original, analogue piece, a digital copy is a little like a backup that can still be referred to later.
In other words, what you digitise depends on the priorities you set yourself, with an eye to both short-term and long-term value. An overview of your archive (a posting list) is a great way to set those priorities.
COMING SOON !
The best place to store your digitised documents and objects depends on a variety of factors, including, among others, storage capacity, access speed, service life and cost price. Generally speaking, storing data on a hard drive is the best option. The storage capacity and service life are significantly greater than, for example, a CD, DVD or USB key. Storing your digital files on two hard drives is also recommended. They should be kept in separate places to avoid possible loss due to theft, malware or fire, among others. It goes without saying that you can also rely on the many cloud services available. The size of your files will determine the subscription price. The downside to this is that you don’t know what organisations such as Google will be able to guarantee in the long term in terms of conservation of and access to your data.
To ensure your digital data is handled properly, follow the same advice you would for an analogue carrier. Keep it out of direct sunlight; keep it in an environment with a stable temperature and avoid dust build-up. Avoid electromagnetic fields such as microwave ovens or wireless devices in particular.
COMING SOON !
Everything starts with a filing plan or archive plan. Once you have a rough notion of what is where, you can start describing or making an inventory of your archive. It’s up to you how detailed you make it. Some parts of your archive may require a description down to the document level, while other sections may only require a clear description of a (sub)series. These descriptions can be made and stored in an .xls(x) table, containing the following columns: number, medium (letter, photo, object, drawing, etc.), content description, date (start and end date, where appropriate), size (document, folder, record, MB, etc.), dimensions, storage place, etc. Your filing plan can be used as additional structure for your inventory.
A filing plan or archive plan can help you inventory your archive, digitally and physically. CKV makes this kind of archive plan available to artists. It can be found [here]. Filing plans for organisations such as galleries are still in the works. Please feel free to get in touch to find out more.
An archive plan has a hierarchical structure that works from general to specific. The lower levels can be based on editorial format (invoices, contracts, etc.) or the nature of the project or file, possibly arranged in chronological order. You can customise the plan to your archive; however, be sure not to create too many levels because the plan will quickly become cluttered and unmanageable.
Archival care consists of the mapping, valuation, management and making accessible of archives created by artists, reflective actors, visual arts organisations and collectors during their work. The objective is creation, research, training, the organisation of exhibitions and collection activities on the part of the respective parties. The road to be travelled is a long one, and for many art archives, their final ‘destination’ is to give the archive a sustainable home in the public space. To that end, the interpretation of the archive is essential. It needs to be clearly organised on various fronts, to be structured and contextualised so that its content is available for further activation. This activation should be understood in a broad sense; it doesn’t just involve public (re-)valuation and usage of the work, but also includes support for (and improvement of) its economic valuation.
Research and interpretation create a framework. A broader perspective and academic art expertise are developed during the archival care process, while efforts are simultaneously made to create an overview of the oeuvre, describe materials, digitise pieces, structure content, and verify written and oral sources.
Based on the goal and desired results described above, the most sensible approach is to implement a research-driven approach right from the start. After all, research is something you can start yourself; you don’t have to outsource it (right away) to external parties. That means the very start of the archive process should begin with a research plan. Starting with a research plan creates opportunities to immediately elucidate and present the artistic practice of the artist concerned. For instance, that means that in addition to the basic inventory, you also start an in-depth inventory that rounds out and documents the archive at the level of the individual piece. When (re)structuring the archive, you should focus on the capacity to draw connections, provide context, and create a seamless flow between content-related themes.
In addition to visual artists and the visual arts organisations with which they are associated, there is also an important group of archive creators who could be dubbed ‘reflective actors’. These reflective actors are engaged in archive creation that stems directly from research. Critics, academics, students, authors, etc. are all external researchers with the potential to make a major contribution to archival analysis. In cooperation with the CKV, research projects are started up with academic and other external partners. The CKV encourages more and extended research into visual art archives and legacies by identifying and facilitating relevant research opportunities on behalf of various researchers. It visits and extends invitations to research institutions and organises collective theme days and conferences in the area of art archives. The CKV takes a number of initiatives to this end, starting up sample projects, for example, but it primarily works within the networks it has in place.
Digital space makes it possible to flexibly and sustainably share research results and make them accessible to external researchers, even when the archiving process isn’t finished yet. The CKV is exploring the various options for making art archives accessible to ensure that they are available for further consultation, contextualisation and social activation on sustainable digital platforms.