© Rachel M. Ward

National Digital Stewardship Residency (NDSR Art)  PhD Fellowship / 2018-19

 

In 2019, I will be presenting at NYU Culture Mapping, the American Institute of Conservation, Christie’s Auction House Art + Tech Symposium, the Media Art History conference in Denmark. I will be sharing my research from the past year, both for my doctoral thesis and within my current conservation training as an NDSR Art Fellow. My year-long placement is with Small Data Industries, a conservation practice in Brooklyn that specializes in time-based media art preservation. There I am working on three (3) projects: 1) the conservation and long-term stewardship plan for the media artifacts (2,000+ items) in the loft of electronic musician Laurie Spiegel; 2) the stabilization of Eyebeam’s digital artifacts for the development of a long-term strategy to regain intellectual control of the archive; and 3) the publishing of a journal article regarding the role of the private conservationist within the ecosystem of time-based media art in the contemporary art market. 

Interactive-Tactile Anthropology Art Installation  Vancouver, BC / 2015

 

The book chapter that I recently published in Digital Echoes focuses on an experimental research-based art installation that I constructed. Titled UKULELE, it is a digital-sensory biography about the life cycle of an instrument. It is an exercise in non-linear, interactive narrative in which the story of the ukulele’s life is revealed by physically playing the instrument (such as kinship with its owner and eventual abandonment). By plucking the strings, it generates sensory visual memories (from the point of view of the instrument), where each note corresponds to one stage of its life cycle: Conception [G string], Birth [C string], Life [E string], and Senescence [A string]. By focusing on themes of inanimate kinship, transpersonal narrative and embodiment, this interactive story conveys a visual non-human biography as based on “imagination” and “memory” (Pink 2009) and explores the potential of interactive digital narrative as a new tool in ethnographic research. See Installation and Technical Overview documentaries.

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Appalachian Punks: An (Interactive) Ethnography of Changing Traditions

Best-of Award / Society for Applied Anthropology 2015

 

While folklore studies have widely focused on the documentation and archiving of traditional music, this study will explore the global permutations and transformations of “traditional” culture as facilitated by new access to digital archives of cultural heritage. My project will focus on the theoretical question, how do interactive documentary projects create access to collections and help (or hinder) safeguarding intangible cultural heritage? My ethnographic research will be conducted through the participatory development of an interactive documentary, produced through research and collaboration with the Smithsonian Centre for Folklife and Cultural Heritage, Library of Congress, scholars, musicians, and community stakeholders from the northern Appalachian regions (Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Pittsburgh and Brooklyn).

 

View the interactive version of this poster

Smithsonian Summer Institute for Museum Anthropology (SIMA) Washington D.C. /  2013

 

I received National Science Foundation-funding to undertake research through the Smithsonian Summer Institute in Museum Anthropology (SIMA). For this project, I explored the unknown origins of Hawaiian royal objects through forensic analysis. I presented my research at the Smithsonian in  July 2013. See abstract.

 

 

American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) New York, NY / 2012-2013

 

Prior to my fellowship at the Smithsonian, I contributed to Anthropology Department research related to culture, climate change and contemporary migration in the Pacific.

 

Aboriginal Rock Art Expedition

​​Australian National University / 2011 - 2012

 

During the summer of 2011, I spent four weeks in the remote area of Arnhem Land, Australia as a graduate researcher on a rock art expedition. This area is only accessible by permit and requires permission from Aboriginal land owners. We collaborated with the community to document, photograph and map sacred rock art sites for preservation purposes. For this project, I was specifically interested in the ways in which habitation, oral history, culture and legality intersect at rock art sites in modern Australia.  In addition to excavating and archaeological analysis, I completed an ethnographic survey of health, social issues, mining and development based on interviews with community members.

Scholarship Blog 

 

Mapuche Cultural Preservation

​​Patagonia, Region IX, Chile / 2010

 

I spent three months in Chile completing master's dissertation research, serving as grant-writer for a local non-profit and volunteering in a K-8 Mapuche school. After working in the school for a couple of weeks, I began to sense that the students were losing touch with their Mapuche heritage; a thought that was likewise reiterated when this topic was discussed with teachers and community members. In light of this, we developed a program for a school-age cultural preservation program to bring together elders and youth in a classroom setting for projects related to language, art, music, and religion in an on-going collaborative attempt to prevent the complete loss of this knowledge in the next generation.

 

Read proposal