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The lasting legacy of Her Noise

Zines from the Her Noise Archive
Zines from the Her Noise Archive

Written by
Elisabeth Thurlow
Published date
06 April 2020

Digital resources can be found in most library, museum and archive collections. Unlike our physical collections, which could survive for many years without close attention, digital materials will not. As technology changes we may lose access to the required hardware or software which enable access to digital content. Digital preservation actions are therefore required to ensure that digital resources will be accessible and usable for future generations.

The Her Noise Archive contains a range of formats, including now obsolete media as well as ‘born digital’ materials, both of which will need to be preserved over time.

Lina Džuverović and Anne Hilde Neset initiated Her Noise in 2001. A celebration of music and sound histories in relation to gender, it aimed to create a lasting resource and a starting point for new investigations.

In 2005 they co-curated an exhibition, Her Noise, which took place at the South London Gallery, with additional events at Tate Modern and the Goethe-Institut. The exhibition featured new artist commissions alongside an archive of books, fanzines and catalogues, as well as artist interviews.

After it finished touring, the archive was donated to the Creative Research into Sound Arts Practice (or CRiSAP) research centre at the London College of Communication and is now housed in the UAL Archives and Special Collections Centre. The donation marked a move to actualise the initial desire of Her Noise – ‘to create a lasting resource’.

Today the archive is one of the most consulted collections within the Archives and Special Collections Centre. Attracting students and researchers in the fields of sound art, music, curation, feminism and gender studies, and other disciplines. Previous UAL students have been tasked with making a piece of work in response to the archive and a loan of material from the collection featured in a recent exhibition at the South London Gallery.

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Her Noise
Her Noise Archive, Women's Work poster.

The future of the archive

A series of art and music performances took place throughout the duration of the original exhibition, many of which are captured within the archive collection. This includes sound recordings as well as video footage, alongside digital images, which together document the events.

The collection includes over 60 videos, 300 audio recordings, 40 books and catalogues, and 250 zines and other self-published ephemera, as well as administrative records, which record the planning, research and documentation of the events. The archive also contains a music collection, which initially grew from each of the organisers’ own private collections. This covers the US and UK punk scenes, with an emphasis on the Riot Grrrl subcultural movement, through to sound art, soundscape and electronica, held across vinyl records, CDs and cassette tapes. All of which present their own preservation challenges.

In support of its original aims, we are considering how we can continue to ensure that the archive lives on as a lasting resource.

Digital formats have a shorter life expectancy than printed material. Alongside the threat of format obsolescence, the specialist knowledge required to digitise from analogue media is being lost as generations of sound and moving image specialists reach retirement age.

For the preservation of data, it is recommended that you migrate legacy media to file-based storage. Ongoing, active management of digital files is then required, to continue the fight against format obsolescence. As even once digitised from their original storage containers, we will need to continue to care for the new digital files generated. This will ensure that the digital legacy of Her Noise will live on as a lasting resource, in keeping with its original aims.

The Her Noise Archive catalogue is available online and the archive can be accessed by appointment in the Archives and Special Collections Centre (please note the ASCC is currently closed until further notice due to the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic). A selection of artefacts from the Her Noise Archive, including digital resources, are accessible via the website.