Archaeology, anthropological place
and the archive?
William’s research is heavily rooted in his training as an archaeologist. He uses this training to explore how the historic environment is used in various heritage and placemaking processes. His approach is to compare the discourse approaches to development-led archaeological databases and 3D historic visualisation in order to understand the social foundation of heritage transmission. Conceptually, how both subjects are expressed digitally is key to his work.
Commonplace internationally, these databases are often the primary source of information ahead of archaeological excavation. It is also often assumed, as they are largely free to access, that they play a role in heritage distribution. William’s analysis challenges these assumptions, suggesting that the mechanisms that allow digital access actually contradict their value in public heritage terms.
To compare aspects of digitality and heritage, a second case study focuses on the creation and display of a result of a secondment at the City of Gothenburg Museum and used the access to the knowledge and expertise of museum staff alongside critical heritage approaches to produce a reading of the potential of the material in the future of the city’s heritage making process, and the capacity for the re-presentation of public narratives.
The research will tracing the relationship between urban space and narrative representation in the city, and is inspired by in modern and postmodern literature. As these periods coincided with the advance of post-industrial urbanity, as well as the rise of the moving image, William was motivated to explore different ways of seeing anthropological space in a heritage context. Central to the understanding of this experience is what makes place different from space, and how does our definition of the historic environment affect what material we use to encounter it? Is it merely a palimpsest of historical layers in the fabric of the cultural landscape; or are we, our communities and the ideas and values we possess equally crucial in forming a historic environment as intangible as the concept of heritage itself?
There is a sensible weight in the air around a thirteenth-century” he said with a touch of pomposity, “that is unlike the light air about a new structure; the new building seems to repulse it, the old to gather it.
Excerpt From: Djuna Barnes. “Nightwood”
Though we wander about, find no honey of flowers in this waste, is our task the less sweet— who recall the old splendour, await the new beauty of cities?
Excerpt From H.D. /Hilda Doolittle “Cities”
—A nation? says Bloom. A nation is the same people living in the same place.
—By God, then, says Ned, laughing, if that’s so I’m a nation for I’m living in the same place for the past five years. So of course everyone had the laugh at Bloom and says he, trying to muck out of it:
—Or also living in different places.
Excerpt From: James Joyce. “Ulysses”
William’s current research interests include the digital reproduction of historic environments and historic artefacts, critical heritage approaches to urban space, digital archiving in cultural resource management and object ontologies. His interest in the cultural historic environment is partially inspired by a friend and mentor, David Hopkins, County Archaeologist in Hampshire, England. This developed an interest in the usefulness of archaeological databases in interpretive dynamics such as story-telling and the possibility of the emotional potryaal of the landscape through the archive. His interest in literature, music and social ties to the city of Gothenburg have also driven his research approach. Introduced to the body of work of local musician Håkan Hellström by his wife, a Gothenburg native, William grew interested depictions of heritage spaces in non-academic or official settings, realising that as a concept the historic environment is more than just the material landscape.
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