Digital Potentials Advisory
The AGGV’s digital archive of over 20,000 objects is an untapped resource for public access and citizen engagement. AGGV, like its peers, holds collections in public trust for public access. However, most museums only exhibit 2-4% of their collections at any time. Online collection databases are tools for providing 24-7 access to the complete inventory of collections. Many museums, including the AGGV, have taken steps to put collections online, but the mechanisms for public engagement with these digital resources remain limited.
In 2020 and 2021, the AGGV began to take steps to address this shift in digital engagement. It formed the Digital Potentials Advisory (DPA), joining Museum staff with a group of digital scholars who came together to exchange research and points of view, and to discuss this work in the context of a museum with a collection with a great deal of potential online. Over the course of its first series of meetings, the DPA emphasized an accessible, exploratory, process-based approach for the AGGV’s expansion into digital realms, underscoring the importance of taking the time to seek out and listen to different viewpoints, to explore holistically and critically and in the context of socio-political discussions, and to remain open to unproven technological approaches.
As the Gallery tunes itself to the vast potential of the digitally networked space, the AGGV Lineage Project (phase two of the DPA) explored the expanded potential of online collections through neural networks and deep learning. Over the course of the project, artists Carol Sawyer, Brendan Tang, Howie Tsui, and Lorilee Wastasecoot engaged with technologist Noya Kohavi and AGGV staff in exploring the notion of the visual search engine to think and work with the AGGV’s online collection, and observe how it can be used in practice-based research.
The project considers queer computing as a methodology, to dismantle systems of power implicit within existing digital tools. This approach allowed for consideration of the visual content of artifacts in the collection beyond the categories they were assigned or ordered in. Engaging a team of artists who are represented in the collection, and whose creative processes are tied to navigating extensive archives, the project explored and defined novel, liminal, and diasporic visual parameters to generate connections between artifacts in the collections, enabling the emerging of new, unseen and marginalized narratives.
We acknowledge the support of the Canada Council for the Arts Digital Strategies Fund.
Learn more about the DPA Project in the AGGV’s Magazine: