ALT/ARChive: 

The Alternative Archiving Workshop

These activities are adapted from The ALT/ARChive: Alternative Archiving Workshop, which Anna Talley and Fleur Elkerton ran over three days during AcrossRCA 2021. The workshop aimed to break away from traditional modes and concepts of archiving, exposing students to new ideas about collecting and preserving the material and immaterial. Group activities and discussion, driven by independent work from participants, were used to investigate the questions: why do we preserve things, what do we include and omit in a collection, what are the “rules” of an archive (and how do we break them), all with a particular focus on personal narrative and utility in archiving. In the end, participants designed their personal archive and write their own manifesto of collecting, which were be shared in presentations to the group on the final day

Activities
Oldest/Newest

Take 10 minutes to go find the oldest thing in your current location (room/house/apartment) and the thing you most recently threw away. Write down why you have kept the oldest object, and why they got rid of the most recent object. What does this bring to mind about the preservation (or omission) of archival material?

Manifesto of Archiving & Designing an Archive

Write down what you believe the “rules” of an archive are and how they are constructed? How might this change in the context of different materials (or archiving immaterial objects)? Based on your thoughts, write your own short manifesto on archiving. Then, go find 10-15 objects that could be archived based on this manifesto. Document them (photos, drawings, case files, etc.) and design a (real or theoretical) system to contain your archive.

Workshop Results

Below is a selection of archives developed as part of the workshop's Rapid Response exercise.

Victoria Bennett
Johann Spindler
Zifei Ge
Polina Davydova 

Material History /Virtual World

The V&A/RCA History of Design MA is offered jointly by the Victoria and Albert Museum and the Royal College of Art. It encourages interdisciplinary, innovative and critical approaches to the history of design across a range of mediums, places and times. Students work closely with the collections and curators at the V&A, as well as participating in the creative community at the RCA.