Our Methodology

Modern archival theory distils the activities associated with archiving into issues of preservation (which we prefer to call sustaining) and access. The ways in which these aims are achieved can vary greatly depending on the nature of the material and its cultural context.

ACCESS: 'The MPC Methodology'

The Akai MPC is a world renown music production tool.  It is used to sample and sequence sound.  Sampling refers to the act of recording sections of audio - most often from existing recordings. Sequencing manipulates these traces in the context of a new composition.  The resulting work holds voices of the past, but influences present and future moments.

In thinking through what it is DTA do, it occurred to us that sampling was a useful analogy. We sample the archives, and sequence these traces in the present. For us, the archive is bigger than paper (or bytes), it is also embodied action. We sample what is appropriate and co-create things which influence future ways of being.   

Our process can be broken down into five stages:

[1] Research  [2] Resonance  [3] Unravelling  [4] Recontextualisation  [5] Reflection

PRESERVATION: Archiving 'our way'

It is clear to us that the 'standard' preservation models cosigned by heritage institutions and key funding bodies, particularly in relation to the archives of Black individuals and Black-led organisations, are problematic. A lack of awareness of cultural contexts breeds misunderstanding and mistrust which can serve to distort the actual transmission of the heritage to others.

The DTA approach to preservation projects is based on four core ideas:

Clarity: What is the heritage, who does it relate to and why must it be sustained?

Energy: What energy does the material evoke (and to whom), what is its context and what are its living/embodied aspects?

Access: What forms does the heritage take and what is the most appropriate way of making it accessible?

Longevity: What is the most sensible approach to ensuring the long-term access of the materials in question?