In the 2018-2019 academic year, twelve committed participants are joining in sustained conversation, tool building, and programming, while attending ethically and thoughtfully to the buzzing interplay of feelings, intimate community, video, and tech as part of the VHS Archives Working Group at the Center for the Humanities at the CUNY GC. Engaging three community partners—the XFR CollectiveInterference Archive, and Visual AIDS—and one design practice, Partner and Partners, this year’s Working Group is building an open source “tool” that should be used on a short stacks of videos by a known and manageable group of participants (party-goers). The tool will help partiers to best care.share for digital and other fragile objects of and for the community who made or needs them. Our prototype for a lightweight open source website generator (the “tool“)  should facilitate ethical research about and activation of small collections of digitized videotape. Using the tool, each communal engagement with video is a “party“: a gathering of humans to work collectively and in real-time on an actionable task spending time in and enjoying each other’s presence and some tapes; shared, task-focused, committed engagements with the materials enabled by using the tool (“My VHS Archives Party.”)

We prioritize keeping VHS and other fragile materials small and local: to respect the uses and needs of specific communities, the importance of engaging with archives in a group setting, and of dedicating both time and presence to community archival work. The tapes should connect to or produce a project of and for a community who understand, need, and want them.

To learn more about our methods for caring.sharing for vulnerable video and the party games this inspires please see “Party Games with VHS Archives,” published on the GC Center for Humanities blog.

 

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