Rob Sherman and The British Library
Rob Sherman, Bonfire Dog
Stella Wisdom, The British Library
Lines In The Ice: A Writer-In-Residence At The British Library
Rob Sherman’s residency at The British Library revolved around the institutions upcoming Lines In The Ice exhibition, which focused on the 1845 expedition by John Franklin to discover the Northwest Passage. Sherman’s intention was to create new physical and digital narratives that could be integrated within exhibition displays, by doing this he hoped to more actively engage audiences and illuminate the stories of displayed objects. The project acted as a pilot for future exhibitions, looking to improve the display of culture artefacts and find ways of mixing on and offline experiences.
Early into the residency Sherman’s project adopted its own distinct identity and gained the name On My Wife’s Back, quickly it built up momentum and produced a wide range of outputs. A fictional hand-bound diary was created in collaboration with The British Library’s conservation team, made to look like an antique artefact it was integrated into the exhibition, acting as a false object. Furthering this narrative intervention fake labels were created for objects on display. Sherman also created a hidden web server for the exhibition which added an additional layer of information. These outcomes were intended to present alternative perspectives on historical events and critique the library’s culture and practices. Other outputs included several games, a research map, a series of objects, a blog and seven songs recorded and published on the British Library’s SoundCloud account.
Several events were hosted as part of the residency, including an end of residency symposium on April 17th 2015 regarding changing approaches to the research and display of artefacts, field trips to historic locations in London and an evening performance of Sherman’s songs. An open studio event was hosted by Sherman as part of the International Gaming in Libraries Day. Sherman and Stella Wilson from The British Library have also been working on an article which will potentially be published by Convergence, The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies. Presentations were arranged for a series of school visits and Sherman was interviewed by Kill Screen Daily.
A major byproduct of the residency has been Sherman’s successful application for an AHRC funded PhD at Bath Spa University. Sherman also received an additional £5,000 funding from the Eccles Centre for American Studies to continue his work. For The British Library the project has pushed how they consider working with their collections and what they can achieve via an exhibition.
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