The name of this project ‘How to Make an Archive Travel?’ came out of a discussion with Dr. Nirmal Puwar last summer. I was trying to explain this idea I had for providing a new ‘app’ channel to archival material from the Women’s Art Library to which she replied ‘So, you want to make the archive travel?’ Yes! I had thought. Indeed that is exactly what I want to do!
But, given the difficulty of making an entire archive travel, I am now faced with the daunting task of selecting only a small portion of content for the app (given size restrictions of up to 60 MB for the first prototype). So I’ve looked to the Internet for inspiration. One site I found inspirational is a namesake project – The Travelling Archive. The Travelling Archive organisers have journeyed and recorded the rich and varied folk music of Bengal, covering mainly Bangladesh, the eastern Indian state of West Bengal and some adjoining areas of Assam in the east of South Asia – as well as Bengali/Bangladeshi neighourhoods of East London. Their fieldwork recordings now continue to travel themselves through various outlets, from exhibitions to the record label created to distribute the music across the world.
There are different ways, it seems, to make an archive travel. While The Travelling Archive project has different media outputs (paid for records) than what is planned for the Women’s Art Library (a free smartphone app), like such other travelling archives we are considering adding audio recordings to the WAL App. Would this make the WAL App also a talking archive? – in some ways! It’s part of the ‘magic’ we hope this app will have.
(The wonderful featured image is by Jennifer Wick.)