In 2012 I spent six months at UTS Library as their first artist in residence. Working alongside the librarians, I creating artistic interventions in the library and artworks exploring the library collection. Dr Chris Caines and Elisa Lee and Adam Hinshaw have also undertaken residencies and the program has become an exciting model for artistic engagement in libraries. My time at the library In 2012 UTS Library had recently made the significant decision to store eighty percent of its collection in automated underground storage. With so much of the collection buried away beneath the campus, digital interfaces would soon be the only way for visitors to search or browse the bulk of the collection. With this in mind, I spent my time exploring ways to reimagining sterile and uninspiring digital interfaces as creative, playful tools to encourage exploration and serendipitous discovery. I designed two interactive works: a radio tuner for ‘tuning in’ to books and a telephone for ‘dialing’ them.Library Frequency Tuner from Chris Gaul on Vimeo.
Library Frequency Tuner 2012 Chris Gaul, produced in collaboration with Dr Jos Mulder and Prof. Bert Bongers of the UTS Interactivation Studio.
Call Number Telephone from Chris Gaul on Vimeo.
Call Number Telephone 2012 Chris Gaul, produced in collaboration with Dr Jos Mulder and Prof. Bert Bongers of the UTS Interactivation Studio.
I also created ‘library spectrograms’: a system for visualising library collections inspired by the science of spectroscopy:
These whimsical artistic experiments lead to practical benefits as well: I designed an interactive spectrogram that the library integrated into their catalogue search interface. Starting a residency UTS Library’s program is an excellent model for libraries interested in setting up their own artist residency. The library first created an advisory panel to select appropriate artists. In this case, UTS Library invited academics and art curators from the UTS community to advise them. The library provides an artist fee as well as funds for the production of artworks. The artist may participate in panel discussions or other library events and often publishes a blog. At the conclusion of the residency, the library funds a small exhibition of works by the artist and arranges for their documentation to share them online.Shelf Life from Chris Gaul on Vimeo.
Artist residencies benefit the library community and the artist in all sorts of different and surprising ways. The presence of a resident artist encourages library staff and visitors to consider the library from unexpected perspectives, provoking an abundance of discussion and ideas. In return, the library offers a rich source of inspiration to the artist, along with the unique opportunity to develop artworks that draw on the librarians’ professional knowledge and perspectives.