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Tuesday, May 11 • 2:00pm - 3:20pm
06. Sound, Sight & Students: Strategies for Success in Supporting Research, Connections & Access within the Academic Arts

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From video tapes and vinyl, to research guides and collaborations with students, our speakers are here to share their discoveries, trials, and triumphs of engaging with sound art, video art, and undergraduate research in film history at the University of Toronto. In Sound, Sight & Students, attendees will join Margaret English to consider the placement of a critical mass of documentation and recordings related to Sound Art in the academic environment of an Art History Library; venture into the grey areas of copyright in a discussion of video art and radical pirate poets with Michelle Johnson; and learn from Kate Johnson's path as a solo librarian building in-roads to best support primary source research through collaborations with the U of T Cinema Studies Student Union and campus partners.

Moderator: Tre Berney

Gathering Sounds: A Case Study of the Interdisciplinary Cultural Study of Sonic Environments

This presentation will discuss the development of the "Sound "Art" Collection at the University of Toronto's Department of Art History Library. Now consisting of a critical mass of exhibitions catalogues, monographs and recordings, this collection is a field trip destination for classes from other Universities and Institutes studying Sound Art, Soundscapes and Sound Studies. Recently, this collection has become an integral resource for a the "Soundscape Studies at the University of Toronto" working group at the Jackman Humanities Institute. This interdisciplinary study network consists of Faculty, a librarian (the presenter), PhD and MA students, undergraduates, curators, and guest speakers. Additional initiatives to promote the collection be discussed.

Speaker: Margaret English

Video Unavailable: The Complexities of Accessing Video Art Online

Video, a revolutionary technology, was commercially introduced in the 1960s and inspired a generation of artists to experiment with this instantaneous moving image based medium. From the abstract electronic formations of Nam June Paik, the cooking show spoofs of Martha Rosler, and the guerilla television of… well… Guerilla Television, the influence of video art cannot be underestimated. Video Art made the late 20th Century created waves in visual culture that we still feel today, influencing movies, music videos and even Sesame Street! In the digital age, it is easy to assume one can simply watch a work of video art on an institution's website, yet, accessing videos outside of a museum's white walls can be a challenge. An art student is more likely to find Rosler’s "Semiotics of the Kitchen" illegally uploaded to platforms like YouTube or Vimeo than available on the MoMA’s website.

This presentation seeks to examine the barriers limiting access to early video art online and offer practical solutions and suggestions to aide librarians, instructors and students in the search for digital video art resources. With higher education taking place completely online due to COVID-19, understanding the medium and utilizing remote resources has never been more necessary. However, video tape is an essentially obsolete technology – a fact that dramatically slows down digitization efforts. Furthermore, in support of artist’s rights, video art is often controlled by third party distributors; while distributors are crucial champions of the medium, issues of copyright complicate discussions of online access. Opportunistic art lovers have taken matters into their own hands, uploading work to online platforms; the most interesting of which is UbuWeb, a volunteer-based repository for obscure art started by a New York poet in 1996 and going strong to this day. By the end of this presentation, attendees should possess a better understanding of video recording technology, the historical development and dissemination of video art, and the problematic nature of many online resources providing access to these works.

Speaker: Michelle Johnson

Proactive Partnerships to Enhance Undergraduate Research Experience in Cinema Studies

Learn about a solo librarian’s path to developing partnerships with Cinema Studies Student Union, Writing Centre, and Student Life Services to enhance undergraduate students’ engagement with primary source research in Film History. Walk away with low cost, practical ideas for jump starting your library's information literacy offerings through collaborations with students and academic colleagues. Take-away ideas will include a variety of events and specific activities your library could facilitate with in-person and online adaptations!

Speaker: Kate Johnson


Tre Berney

Director, Digitization and Conservation, Cornell University Library


Margaret English

Librarian, University of Toronto

Michelle Johnson

University of Toronto

Kate Johnson

Cinema Studies & College Librarian, University of Toronto

Tuesday May 11, 2021 2:00pm - 3:20pm EDT