The Memory Mosaic: embedding audio recordings in exhibitions

Helen Kingstone

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


How can we combine text and images to make sure oral history recordings are heard by their full possible audience? I and colleagues are grappling with that question in our project, interviewing former staff and students of Leeds Trinity University as it moves towards its 50th anniversary in 2016.
The two key issues we currently face are: firstly, how best to present those parts of our interviews that have expressed criticism of changes over recent decades? The interviews’ immediate showcase will be a public exhibition, running alongside 50th anniversary celebrations. What can we display without undermining the tone of the events? Secondly, how can we ensure our visitors listen to the original voice recordings? Visitors accustomed to museum exhibitions of visual sources (images and text) are famously reluctant to pause long enough for extended audio content. How do we break this impasse?
Our solution is an interactive online ‘Memory Mosaic’. This invites submissions from former staff and alumni, of images and/or written comments about their experiences. These will be combined with clips from the oral history recordings, to create a mosaic of enriched sensory content. Using clips rather than full interviews inevitably heightens the power imbalance of selection. Letting our selections be shaped by user-generated content, however, avoids the potential hegemony of a single-author selection. The mosaic of memories can continuously proliferate, with clips sparking off further memories from others. In this way, we can move beyond the potential impasse of text versus audio, to produce an accessible and valuable synthesis.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusUnpublished - 2016
EventOral History Society Annual Conference 2016: Beyond Text in a Digital Age? - University of Roehampton, London, United Kingdom
Duration: 8 Jul 20169 Jul 2016

Academic conference

Academic conferenceOral History Society Annual Conference 2016
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom


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