The Visual Archive

Critical Thinking and Making — Spring  2024

WEEK 3 | Archive ⇄ Order

The records (images) of your archive will tell a story. How does the order/arrangement of visuals impact the narrative you are intending to convey?
   This week, we will explore ways to arrange visual material and implement elements & principles of visual language.


Reading & Watching

  • Short lecture introducing: Aby Warburg, Lorna Simpson, Willy Fleckhaus (password on Canvas).
  • Van Alphen, Ernest. Staging the Archive: Art and Photography in the Age of New Media. London: Reaktion Books, 2015. Introduction (pp 7-20)

Making: Experiment 1 — Bilderatlas
Create 3 plates of a speculative atlas about your research topic

  • Based on the images used in class, decide for a research topic—it’s just for this week not for the semester.
  • Use Smithsonian Open Access to find visual records (images) of your research topic in the Smithsonian archives.
  • Use 16 images—a combination of your own images and images from the Smithsonian archive to create 3 plates.
  • Each plate must include all 16 images (they might not be fully visible though). Pay attention to the content of your visual records (images).
  • Look for phrases/ inspiration in the reading to create three entirely different layouts (narrative, collective memory, postmodern, active/passive).
  • You can use any software or analog process for this assignment. Don’t write anything on the plates.
  • Bring to class:
    3 plates, each on a tabloid size paper (11 x 17 inches)
Examples of plate layout. Your plates should look entirely different!

Research Document
Create a research document to collect everything you use/create in this class. Follow this example.

Aby Warburg, Bilderatlas Mnemosyne, Re-created for the exhibition at HKW, Berlin, 2020
Willy Fleckhaus, twen, 1962
Batia Suter talks about her process to compile “Parallel Encyclopedia #2” — the effect of combining images in unexpected ways.

Willy Fleckhaus
Article on It’s Nice That
Spreads on Pinterest

Aby Warburg
About the Mnemosyne Atlas (The Warburg Institute)

Lorna Simpson
Lorna Simpson Studio
Studio Visit @TATE

Additional Introduction to the grid:
→ Ellen Lupton explains the history and usage of the grid
→ An Introduction to Grids and How-to by Andrew Maher

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