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Narratives from the long tail: transforming access to audiovisual archives

Lay summary

Narratives draws on four significant European audiovisual archives: Radio Télévision Suisse, the International Olympic Committee collections, the UNESCO Memory of the World listed Montreux Jazz Festival archive, and the Netherland’s Eye Filmmuseum – vast digital collections that require new solutions to make them available to the public.

Led by experts in machine learning, computer vision, visual analytics, digital museology, and archival science, Narratives initiates a novel interdisciplinary framework of computational museology through three key objectives. First, to deliver computational transformations in the data curation that will augment conventional archives with richer semantic meaning. Second, to design a narrative visualization framework, combining spatio-temporal, social, aesthetic and affective semantics to pioneer new audiovisual storytelling formats. Third, to develop platforms for the navigation, exploration and creative reorganization of moving images through immersive and interactive systems to open up these archives to wider audiences. Advancing museological and archival theory in tandem with practice toward a systems approach, Narratives promises to introduce transdisciplinary precedents across science, culture and industry.

Swiss archives have made exemplary investments in the digitization and curation of audiovisual cultural heritage yet the vast majority of these collections remain inaccessible to broader society. To address this shortcoming, Narratives will initiate a groundbreaking visualization framework for interactively (re)discovering hundreds of thousands of hours of audiovisual materials. While respecting archival copyright constraints, the project will validate many years of effort in digital preservation and curation in Switzerland and internationally to ensure the sustainability of our collective heritage.

Abstract

Bridging science, archives, museums and society, this project takes up the challenges of public access to the principal memory records of the 20th and 21st centuries: large-scale audiovisual archives. Through computational processes, ‘Narratives’ sets out to address and resolve the gap between digital archives and the participatory world of museological experience.

Narratives draws on four significant European audiovisual archives: Radio Télévision Suisse, the International Olympic Committee collections, the UNESCO Memory of the World listed Montreux Jazz Festival archive, and the Netherland’s Eye Filmmuseum - vast digital collections that require new solutions to make them available to the public.

Led by experts in machine learning, computer vision, visual analytics, digital museology, and archival science, Narratives initiates a novel interdisciplinary framework of computational museology through three key objectives.
- First, to deliver computational transformations in the data curation that will augment conventional archives with richer semantic meaning.
- Second, to design a narrative visualization framework, combining spatio-temporal, social, aesthetic and affective semantics to pioneer new audiovisual storytelling formats.
- Third, to develop platforms for the navigation, exploration and creative reorganization of moving images through immersive and interactive systems to open up these archives to wider audiences.

Advancing museological and archival theory in tandem with practice toward a systems approach, Narratives promises to introduce transdisciplinary precedents across science, culture and industry. Swiss archives have made exemplary investments in the digitization and curation of audiovisual cultural heritage yet the vast majority of these collections remain inaccessible to broader society. To address this shortcoming, Narratives will initiate a groundbreaking visualization framework for interactively (re)discovering hundreds of thousands of hours of audiovisual materials. While respecting archival copyright constraints, the project will validate many years of effort in digital preservation and curation in Switzerland and internationally to ensure the sustainability of our collective heritage.

Sarah Kenderdine