unspace is an audio-spatial archive reflecting the felt experience of memory. It was designed as a platform for local communities to preserve and share their stories and memories in time and space. unspace consists of a physical interactive platform with an audio-scape composed of interviews of local residents. The platform itself is made up of physical materials that reflect the physical history of the locality at hand. Users can explore the community’s history while physically experiencing its fabric.
From oral histories to carefully recorded archives, our survival is predicated upon the sharing of stories. This is what Ursula Le Guin argues in her piece “The Carrier Bag Theory of Fiction.” Prompted by her theory as to the foundational role of storytelling, we began to look at how memory is portrayed in our daily lives. We noticed that the way we experience the world, our sensorial response to making memories, is often excluded from archiving practices. However, the way we remember is profoundly bodily driven. Smells, textures, sounds, tastes and visuals all evoke memories in equal measure. We therefore began to wonder how we could create a felt archive, one that would not only store memories and stories, but also record and evoke other ones. An archive not confined to the past, but one unfolding alongside the archive receiver’s own experience and reaction. Inspired by Le Guin’s work, this was an attempt to assert archives, stories and memories as living social entities to be shared and preserved over and over again.
A story is a political entity, one that is often regimented by governmental, educational and institutional forces. By nurturing collective roots and identities, stories are instrumental in building communities and ensuring their survival. From our discussions and readings around the processes of memory, we moved towards its importance and relevance in a social, cultural and political context. Local communities’ histories are often confined to their social boundaries, and are therefore intrinsically precarious. For communities that are under threat, this implies imminent erasure. We wanted to create an archive that could prevent this loss, and establish an archive that could help not only preserve these memories but also serve to consolidate communities via shared remembering.
Our first collaborator is Hackney Wick, a community in East London endangered by gentrification and re-development campaigns. We conducted research and interviews with local residents, forming a network which inspired the backbone of this project. Meant to serve as a resource for local communities eventually globally, unspace seeks to provide an alternative way of remembering, feeling, and interacting with the world and people around us.
unspace is accompanied by a digital platform which documents the growing archive and makes it accessible to all. Meant to serve as a resource for local communities eventually globally, unspace seeks to provide an alternative way of remembering, feeling, and interacting with the world and people around us.
Ultimately, unspace will expand to different communities and grow to be a large-scale archive of local communities. unspace will serve as a resource for communities to learn from each other and help preserve and share local stories and histories on a global scale.