People not Porcelain: Reallocating Value and Being Responsive Through Digital Projects at the RISD Museum

Lightning Talk

Thursday, April 02, 2020: 11:00am - 12:30pm -

Carson Evans, RISD Museum, USA, Jeremy Radtke, RISD, USA

In 2017 the RISD Museum incorporated a new interpretive strategy. Responsiveness and reallocating value have become a grounding force, particularly for digital projects. Introspection, iteration, and inviting people in destabilizes previous routines—instability has creative potential. The relative agility and newness of digital projects provide a good sandbox for experimentation and collaboration, ultimately shifting towards institutional change.

This lightning talk will examine two recent projects that manifest this way of working, and the unexpected results they produced. A series of community conversations changed the content and focus of our 2019 Gorham Silver: Designing Brilliance exhibition. Acknowledging and forefronting extensive community knowledge (and passion)—the Gorham factory was a large presence in Providence until the 1990s—we developed two digital projects to incorporate this local expertise. Workbench, a four-channel video installation, highlighted several key silvermaking processes. It interwove archival footage of the Gorham factory with video we shot of contemporary silversmiths and Gorham tools. These tools and the samples produced sat in a case below. We also produced a five-part audio program, Reverberations, which explored complex themes through first-hand accounts and tells nuanced stories using immersive soundscapes.

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