Creating a Digital Archive of Physical Sites & Sightings

So I’ve been thinking about how I want to narrow down my project for the semester, and I’ve realized that what I’m most interested in is creating an archive or catalog of physical spaces and artifacts from my surroundings. In creating this archive, there are a few things I’m considering:

  • making it open-source: allowing anyone to upload models, photos, and text
  • local: focusing on a small geographical region. for each submission, i would like to include the coordinates of the finding(s) so that others may actually visit the physical location (maybe even post updates)
  • live: i’d like to create an archive that is live and expanding. the idea that actual change or transformation could be studied over time is an incentive.

My goal is for this archive to inspire people to find ways to connect to their environment. In the way that social media platforms provide opportunities for people to stay in contact with friends that they have already made in real life, I’d like to create a platform that encourages people to notice their surroundings and share those noticings with others, creating a shared appreciation of an environment.

I did some Google searches to see if others have done similar projects. Here are some of my findings:

A People’s Archive of Sinking & Melting 
Amy Balkin
This project is an open-source collection of images that depict objects that have been altered from natural forces. For most of the images, the location of their discovery is noted and there is a stress placed on climate change. So most of the locations are coastal regions that are at risk of disappearing or have disappeared already.
For this archive, it looks like people are sending in the actual artifacts from all over the world. The items are then photographed by the artist and uploaded.

Urban Archives
BMA (2009)
An exhibition from 2009, “Urban Archives” was part of a multi–year series of exhibitions that looked at contemporary culture as a “living archive.” It draws primarily from the personal collections of a number of artists that have been working in and on the Bronx since the late 1970s. In their collections, the testimonies of long-time residents and occasional visitors coexist in the form of mementos, documentation, artwork and other sort of cultural artifacts.

“Urban Archives” opens at BMA


Other inspirations:

  • Geocaching
  • (local town forums)

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