White, B., Simpson, E., 2023.
Toward Usership: Collaborative data mining in an orchestra's record collection.
|Other form of assessable output
|Open Music Archive / Hallé
Towards Usership was an experiment in archival practice. The project took the Hallé Archive's collection of vinyl and shellac records of out-of-copyright recordings of the orchestra's performances (1920-1962) as its starting point. Using semantic and audio technologies, out-of-copyright recordings were identified, digitised and digitally processed to generate a new sonic dataset and resource which was made freely available and used as source material for a suite of new remixes by invited electronic musicians and producers. At the centre of the project is the process of archive digitization, remix performance and distribution.
The project responds to a shift in both artistic practice and wider culture, from conceiving archives as static repositories, to recognising archive holdings as active resources for collaborative use. Despite this shift, even public archives are often inaccessible for reuse due to intellectual property claims from individuals and commercial entities. The proposed exhibition dynamically responds to this context by allowing free access by extracting copyright-expired sounds from a physical archive to create new public domain sonic resource. Uniquely, the project brings to bear emerging semantic, audio and artificial intelligence technologies on an archive of 20th Century music, to open its contents for free public use and generate a collaborative resource - allowing free access for musicians, researchers, computer scientists and artists.
Towards Usership eschews the usual classical narratives of a symphony orchestra, convened around a canonical hierarchy of composers, conductors, and soloists. Instead, the sonic traces of a century of collective performance are pulled apart, dubbed, remixed and reassembled to generate a future archive for diverse new audiences. This deconstruction of an archive into its material components and re-assemblage by invited collaborators as a copyleft resource, shifts the focus from the past, opening the archive optimistically toward the next 100 years - awaiting future audiences and future uses.
The result was a unique body of work including four types of research-based outcomes: (1) digitised archival orchestral recordings; (2) a sonic dataset of public domain orchestral sounds; (3) new copyleft digital releases; (4) web-based archival applications.
THIS PROJECT IS PART OF AN ONONGOIN RESEARCH AND KNOWLEDGE EXCHANGE COLLABORATION WITH HALLÉ SET TO CONINUTE UNTIL 2024. IT IS EXPECTED THAT FURTHER PUBLIC EVENTS, EXHIBITIONS AND PERFORMANCES WILL BE DEVELOPED WITHIN REF TIMEFRAME. AS WITH OUR OUTPUTS FOR REF2021 (E.G. AUDITORY LEARNING, A MULTI-PART PROJECT FOR BRITISH ART SHOW 8 WHICH WAS DEVELOPED OVER 5 YEARS or EVERYTHING I HAVE IS YOURS DEVELOPED WITH CASTLEFIELD GALLERY, UNIVERSITY OF SALFORD ART COLLECTION, FILM AND VIDEO UMBRELLA, CONTEMPORARY ART SOCIETY AND WHITECHAPEL GALLERY OVER 4 YEARS), FURTHER OUTPUTS WILL BE SUBMITTED OR COMBINED AS A JOINT MULTI-PART OUTPUT DEPENDING ON GUIDANCE FROM RKE/MSARC.