Saturday 15 December 2012

My first time exploring an archive

Hello, this is Cedric Tai, one of the project research assistants and also I’m currently in the GSA’s Masters of Fine Arts program. I thought it would be nice to go into a little bit of why I’m volunteering as well as to show some of the items that popped out from my immersion in the Third Eye Centre archive. 

Image credit: Rowan Gallery, London 1971, John Web Photography, Surrey c. 1971
Image is courtesy of the Third Eye Centre/CCA
This photo for example is an interesting example of what tends to catch your eye, actual works of art hidden between expense reports and correspondence letters. In this case, darkroom developed photographs used to serve as promotional material; this is documentation of the piece “On the Shelf”, 1970. Glass, metal, water by Michael Craig-Martin.

Originally from Detroit, I committed myself to a heavy involvement within the arts community there. Perhaps it was in a reciprocal way to thank all the people that have supported my own artistic development. One of the first reasons I am interested in this archival project is to possibly follow the idea of Glasgow as a good case study for Detroit’s art scene noting the strategic development and grassroots efforts.

Sarah Lowndes mentions Detroit in her book Social Sculpture: The Rise of the Glasgow Art Scene a couple times. She quotes John Sinclair, manager of the MC5, as well as Kevin Saunderson lamenting an unsupported cultural scene in their times. In 2010, the directors of two of the largest spaces for contemporary art, MOCAD in Detroit and Tramway in Glasgow, came together to chat about similarities between the community-driven art scenes. David Byrne also notes the connection on his blog too.

The early days of the Third Eye Centre and Blythswood square reveal a search for a model as well, and the various brainstorming maps and doodles put one into the mind-set of a fresh endeavour with diversified ambitions. Perhaps this is also why within the small organization that certain people are covering so many different roles. 

The image is courtesy of the Third Eye Centre/CCA

I’ve also become involved because I want to develop research skills, and what better way than through real world, hands on involvement that has embedded within it implications for future researchers? 

So far I have been coming in every Wednesday and thinking about how both the Third Eye Centre and the archives within the school both provide a dynamic kind of accessibility. This can be understood in how the staff here are open to various interpretations and uses of the archive by the GSA students. Within the Third Eye archive it can be read in their reports of exhibitions such as The Garnett Hill Exhibition, Unemployment, and Art on the Dole. They provided a range of programming in which participation could inform their development from seminars to symposiums, workshops and even international trips to research community and public art.

The archive of the Third Eye Centre will impact the legacy of the art scene here in Glasgow, and it has already spurred some debates. What made it so accessible? Will this bring up any differences between the artist-led institution, the non-artist-led institutions and even in contrast to purposely not trying to create an institution in the first place?  

Considering that this archive like many others is just a skeleton, it’s apparent that perhaps rather than trying to produce research entirely within the archive itself, I will need to embark upon my own interviews to better fill in the references contained (or not) in the archive. I plan on posting musings and to highlight findings and perhaps this archive will seem in some way more accessible, where someone could feel quite comfortable perusing down a list of contents, and picking up where we leave off.


Actual Screenshot from my computer of the Third Eye Box List courtesy of the Third Eye Centre/CCA
 This is an image of what we look through right before we select a box. It can be a little disappointing if one just goes through the Timeline of the Third Eye Centre that Carrie Skinner has developed, because although it speaks to the richness of the programming over the years, that doesn’t necessarily mean the archive contains anything other than a reference that it happened, and even that is debatable.

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