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Multisensory Archives of Spaces

Conference: Archives 2.0: Saving the Past, Anticipating the Future
Location: National Media Museum, Bradford
Date: October 25th 2014


Informed by the theoretical frameworks of sensory anthropology, cross-modal perception and cultural geography and made possible by a new combination of capture, post-production and interactive technologies, methods are presented that allow for the creation of multisensory archives of spaces.

Most archives abstract objects of study from their original space, and in doing so, marginalise two very significant factors in their interpretation; the narratives that are created by spatial relationships with other objects and the emplaced, multisensory experience of the object as it was originally encountered. This paper presents the space itself as the archive, allowing objects to be studied in their original context.

Three constitutive areas are addressed; a series of recommendations for the creation of any form of multisensory artefact, the technological processes involved in the production of a multisensory archive and the specific advantages of repeatability and emplacement offered by this new form of archive.

These new methods will be demonstrated by the presentation of multisensory archives of Temple Works, a Grade I listed building in the south of Leeds. Originally built as a flax mill in 1840 and featuring numerous signature features, including a facade inspired by the Temple of Horus and the largest single room in the world (at the time of construction), the building is now transforming into a cultural venue supporting a diverse community of artists, performers and musicians.


Rethinking Experience Temple Works as a form of 'virtual archive' was a very significant stage in the development of the theoretical arguments presented in the thesis and this conference was pivotal in informing this process. Although the presentation itself was something of a disaster, plagued by technical problems associated with demonstrating a fragmentary, prototype version of Experience Temple Works, it established a new theoretical perspective which was of great value (see section 5.2 of the thesis).