by Sofie Taes, KU Leuven
The program of the monumental, multi-disciplinarian conference on archives and cultural industries held in Girona’s Palau de Congressos (13-15 October), and co-organized by EuropeanaPhotography-partner Ajuntament de Girona (CRDI), featured several members of our consortium: Antonella Fresa presented the PREFORMA-project, Nacha Van Steen led a double workshop connected with the EuPh-vocabulary, and my KU Leuven-colleague and project coordinator Fred Truyen was scheduled for a talk about All Our Yesterdays in the afternoon of day 1.
Accompanying Fred, I took the opportunity to immerse myself in the wave of inspiration that oozed from the enthusiasm, the creativity and the out-of-the-box solutions to manifold challenges that younger and older professionals from both sectors presented. After an impressive plenary session with Joan Roca, in which the essence and value of creative excellence were made tangible through some mind-blowing video-footage, I chose to continue the day with one of the parallel conference sessions devoted to novel ways of opening up city and university archives – with cases from Vienna (where a semantic Media-Wiki was produced), Stockholm (focusing on the marketing potential of archival/historical city projects) and Emporia State University (augmented reality apps to engage students in discovery the university archive and library collections).
All speakers illustrated with vigor and panache, that tight partnerships at the basis of a broader network (one person of the Wien-Wiki-team is sponsored by the city’s waste and sewer services!), a bit of money, a persistent attitude and a lot of conviction can go a long way. They also proved that trying to re-invent the wheel in search for highly innovative solutions, has more chances of shipwrecking a project, than a more down-to-earth, trial-and-error, step-by-step approach: different ambition, better result.
In the afternoon, I attended the session devoted to early photography, featuring not only a fascinating research project on fascist undertones in Spanish war photography, thoughts on international metadata standards from a Brazilian point of view, and 19th century image collections online, but also EuropeanaPhotography’s own Fred Truyen: filled to the final seat, the bursting conference room took in his thoughts on “All Our Yesterdays: Europeana and the Phenomenology of Photographic Experience through the Framing of Digitization”, reflecting upon intermediality, deframing/reframing and enhancing the image – from’ original’ to digital.
The 30’ discussion round closing the session was insufficient for all questions and statements from the crowd, which left me with a double conclusion: our adventures with early photography are definitely – and luckily – not over yet; and many, many enthusiasts from all over the world share our passion and fascination for this part of our cultural heritage.