Louise Curham uses her art and her expertise as an archivist to explore how we can look after things we can’t digitise. Louise invites us to think about the wisdom that accompanies things we want to keep and how we can pass that on.
Keeping heritage can be a difficult business. Our commonsense assumption is that the internet and digital systems will save and store everything, but some things don’t digitise well. Here’s an example: under the nom-de-plume of ‘Teaching and Learning Cinema’, an artist-colleague and I re-enact Expanded Cinema, a form of live art that involves film projection and performance. One of our projects re-enacts a seminal British expanded cinema work, Guy Sherwin’s Man With Mirror (1976). When we first made this re-enactment, we produced a user’s manual. We recently tested the manual with Australian artist Laura Hindmarsh.
Laura’s experience shows that the ‘item’ Man With Mirror is an example of heritage that can’t be comprehensively recorded and transferred textually or diagrammatically. It includes a batch of ‘embodied data’ that needs body-to-body transmission, passing on in person from one user to the next. For Laura to carry out her own re-enactment, despite the diligent instructions in the manual, she relied upon information conveyed in-person in real time from my colleague Lucas and I, as indeed, before her, Lucas and I had relied upon information from Guy Sherwin to make our re-enactment. What this means is that we need to keep the things, and the wisdom that goes with them.
Louise is a lecturer in the School of Information Studies at Charles Sturt University teaching into the archives, records and audio visual archives subjects. Louise is still finalising her PhD with the Centre for Creative and Cultural Research at the University of Canberra, and she was until very recently, an archivist in the Australian Government. These engagements flow from her work in media art specialising in obsolete technology. Louise trained in film, later in live arts and archives. Both live arts and archives continue to run parallel in her career. The soon-to-be-finished PhD draws together art and archives, exploring how we keep things we can’t digitise. The data set for this research takes the form of performance art re-enactments from the 1970s.
As an archivist, Louise has worked for the Australian Government, setting policy and curating future archives. As a consultant archivist Louise has conducted significance assessments on several seminal small arts collections. In live art, Louise performs with obsolete media such as 16mm and super 8mm film. She collaborates with luminaries in Australian contemporary, classical and jazz music, in key venues and festivals in Australia and internationally. Louise’s films are in the collections of the region’s film archives.
Louise Curham Curriculum Vitae
PhD (in progress) Centre for Creative and Cultural Research, Faculty of Arts and Design, University of Canberra 2014–
Graduate Diploma of Science (Information Services) (Archives & Records), Edith Cowan University, 2013
Graduate Certificate in Audio Visual Archiving, Charles Sturt University, 2006
Master of Fine Arts, Time Based Art, College of Fine Arts, University of New South, 2005
Managing Historical Documents certificate, School of History, University of NSW, 2002
Diploma of Visual Arts (Painting), Victoria University, Melbourne (in part), 1999
Bachelor of Arts, VCA School of Film & Television 1993
Media Skills certificate, Waikato Polytech, Hamilton, New Zealand, 1990
Charles Sturt University, sessional lecturer, Organisational and Personal Records, Session 2 2020
University of Canberra, Faculty of Arts and Design, course convenor, Professional Media Projects, Semester 1 2018
University of Canberra, Faculty of Arts and Design, sessional tutor, Editing Sound and Image and Major Creative Projects, Semester 2 2018
National Archives of Australia, Commonwealth Information Policy, assistant director, Canberra, 2016–2019
National Archives of Australia, Government Information Assurance and Policy, Digital Strategy and Solutions, assistant director, Canberra, 2014–2016
National Archives of Australia, Government Information Management, Agency Accountability project officer, Canberra, 2009–2014
dLux Media Arts, Sydney, consulting archivist, preparation of significance assessment under National Library Community Heritage Grant, 2014
Performance Space, Sydney, consulting archivist, preparation of significance assessment under National Library Community Heritage Grant, 2010
Australian National Maritime Museum, records manager, Sydney, 2007–9
National Archives of Australia, Audiovisual Preservation project officer, Sydney, 2002–7
Auscape, natural history photographic library project officer, Sydney, 2000–2
Rehame, broadcast media monitor, Melbourne 1998–2000
Short film director 1996–7
Saatchi & Saatchi Advertising, radio and television commercials producer 1994-6
Curham, L & Gamble, R. (2008). ‘Moving Image’ and ‘Sound’. Keeping Archives (3rd ed.), Bettington et al (eds.) Australia: Australian Society of Archivists.
Refereed journal article
Ihlein, L., & Curham, L. (2015). Reaching Through To the Object: re-enacting Malcolm Le Grice’s Horror Film 1. Performance Matters, 1(1-2), 24–40.
Curham, L. (2017). Performing Digital Multiple Perspectives on a Living Archive. Archives and Manuscripts, 45(2), 167-169.
Published conference proceedings
Curham, L. (2016). Caring for live art that eludes digital preservation. In Proceedings of the 13th International Conference on Digital Preservation (pp. 266–267). Bern, Switzerland: Swiss National Library
SELECTED CONFERENCE ACTIVITY
The Wisdom Travels With the Object, Archives in the Digital Age symposium for the launch of the Kaldor Digital Archives, Art Gallery of NSW, Nov 2019.
Having Opinions in Digital Preservation. Australasia Preserves digital preservation community of practice on-line meeting, May 2019.
Tending the archive: ritual as preservation; enfolding preservation into use; and preservation as a community enabler through the case study of ‘(Wo)Man With Mirror’, a re-enactment of a 1970s artwork. Shock of the New, Australasian Institute for the Conservation of Cultural Materials joint SIG symposium, Melbourne. Feb, 2017.
When the record performs. Australian Society of Archivists’ annual conference, Melbourne. Sep, 2017.
Observing the re-enactment. Scenes of the Real symposium, Department of Performance Studies, University of Sydney. July, 2016.
Tending the Archive. Australasian Association for the Digital Humanities conference, Hobart. June, 2016.
Re-enacting Expanded Cinema ‘Wo(Man) With Mirror’, presentation at Museum Futuresconference, Institute of Education, University College London, May 2013.
Re-Enacting Expanded Cinema: Three case studies, authors Louise Curham and Lucas Ihlein, at Re:live 09, Third International Conference on the Histories of Media Art, Science and Technology Melbourne 26-29 November 2009.
History Made Flesh – Re-enacting Expanded Cinema, authors Louise Curham and Lucas Ihlein, poster at the Association of Moving Image Archivists Conference, USA, 2004.
SELECTED AWARDS AND HONOURS
2016 University of Canberra Pitch for Funds winner
2015-17 Australian Postgraduate Award
2015 Australia Day Award National Archives of Australia for Check-up Digital
2013 Margaret Jennings Award, Australian Society of Archivists
SELECTED ARCHIVES COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENTS
Performance Space archives, Sydney, pro bono involvement 2008-2013
Lu Rees Archives of Australian Children’s Literature foundation sub committee 2012-2014
PhD, Centre for Creative & Cultural Research, Faculty of Arts & Design, University of Canberra (2014–) Graduate Diploma Information Science (Archives & Records) Edith Cowan University 2010
Graduate Certificate Audiovisual Archiving, Charles Sturt University, 2005
Master of Fine Arts, College of Fine Arts, UNSW, Sydney 2004
Bachelor Film & Television, VCA School of Film & Television, Melbourne 1993
A Film of One’s Own [Archive Fever], PhotoAccess, Canberra, November 2015
A Film of One’s Own [Fugue Solos], Performance Space 2005, NZ Film Archive Media Gallery Wellington 2006, Te Manawa ART Palmerston North, NZ 2006
Floodgate (2006) College Gallery, QUT in the OtherFilm Festival, 2006
Moving Still Life Blackwood Gallery Melbourne 1999, UNSW Hutchison Gallery 2002, Kudos Gallery Sydney 2004
Herbaceous, NZ Film Archive Auckland, 2003
Selected group exhibitions
The Stand-in Lab with Lynn Loo, PhotoAccess Canberra 2019
Encyclopedia of Forgotten Things, Faculty Arts & Design Group Show, Belconnen Arts Centre, May 2016
Slowing Down Time, Belconnen Arts Centre 2015, Articulate Project Space, Sydney Mar 2014 & FCA Gallery, Wollongong Aug, 2014
Still Life | Moving Fragments, Belconnen Arts Centre; Tin Sheds Gallery, Sydney 2012
Propositions and Game Plans, Melbourne International Arts Festival, 2007
Selected re-enactment events
Teaching & Learning Cinema expanded cinema re-enactment projects inc. Horror Film 1, CCAS June 2014; Hollow in the Paper, CAST, Hobart 2013; Unconscious Archives Salon, London 2013; The Parlour in 13 Rooms, Sydney April 2013; Imprint, Artspace Sydney, 2009; Performance Space, Sydney 2007.
As curator & convenor
Stand-in Lab events program in the Stand-in Lab exhibition, PhotoAccess Canberra 2019
Poetry Film screening in Poetry on the Move symposium, University of Canberra, Sep 2016
Teaching & Learning Cinema events 2006 ongoing. Highlights include Photochemical Games and 16mm from the ‘70s the films of artist Malcolm Le Grice at Belconnen Arts Centre, Canberra 2013.
Yokohama Flowers with Erik Griswold, Brisbane 2019
In a Bone Way with Debra Di Centa, Dance on the Edge, Belconnen Arts Centre, 2018
Tracer film performance for prepared screen and haiku in You Are Here Festival, Canberra, April 2016 Room 40’s Open Frame with Chris Abrahams, Carriageworks Sydney, July 2015
The Film Remains the Same film performance in You Are Here Festival, Canberra 2014
Unconsious Archives at Café Oto, London, June 2013
SoundOut Festival, Canberra 2013, 2014
Melbourne International Arts Festival, Soak, with the Australian Art Orchestra, 2010
Jazz Visions Festival, Sound Lounge, Sydney, 2010
NZ International Film Festival, Frames Per Second A Film of One’s Own, Auckland, 2009
Waiting to Turn into Puzzles at the Australian Centre for the Moving Image, 2008
Val Camonica Pieces, Victorian Arts Centre, 2007
OtherFilm annual festival, Brisbane 2006-8; NowNow annual exploratory music festival, Sydney, 2006-9
Bundanon 2012; University of Wollongong artist-in-residence 2008; BankART 1929 Artists-in-studios residency Yokohama Japan 2007; Performance Space 2007; UNSW union artist-in-residence 2002
Dance films: Knee Deep in Thin Air 1992; Fugue in Pursuit of Flight 1994; Slipped 1997;Doona Grrl, Transparent 2000 Other films: Johnny & Irenie 1993;The Princess & The Pea 2000; Tenho Saudades (with Peter Humble) 2004; Conimbla 2009