- Alumni news -
Made up of recent alumni from the MA in Photojournalism & Documentary course at London College of Communication (LCC), RAKE is a new visual research collective that uses open source data to investigate and visualise a variety of unseen and obscured subjects across society, business and politics.
Exploring themes including human rights violations, government censorship, hidden histories, corruption, surveillance and bureaucratic violence. RAKE aims to push the boundaries of traditional photojournalism and reportage, using evolving investigation techniques to inform visual and multimedia projects.
Data and research driven stories are at the leading edge of modern journalistic practice and RAKE will take an alternative approach to that of Western mass media. They aim to create an autonomous platform for writers, artists and researchers and facilitate members’ investigations, data visualisation, collaborative and individual projects. RAKE encourages politically and socially driven work and seeks to stimulate the contributions of diverse voices, providing a framework for collaboration with other like-minded people.
Currently RAKE is comprised of 4 documentary photographers and artists who all met on LCC’s MA Photojournalism & Documentary course in 2019 - Flora Thomas, Nancy Hurman, Vera Zurbrugg and Nuno Guerreiro de Sousa.
Flora is interested in issues regularly encountered though seldom explored. Her specialised research topics include the UK arms trade and Britain’s involvement in the illegal Israeli occupation and annexation of the East Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza.
Nancy's work focuses on social and humanitarian issues both locally and globally, particularly exploring subjects that are uncertain or unseen, her most recent work centres around the immigration detention system in the UK and the bureaucratic violence that sustains it.
Vera’s practice is heavily influenced by research into state secrecy, power dynamics and hidden history. Her Swiss upbringing has led her to question and engage with the widespread misconception of Switzerland’s role during the Second World War, and how it influences the Swiss national identity to this day.
Nuno Guerreiro de Sousa
Nuno’s background in electrical engineering has informed his practice which often questions the internet’s capacity to be used for both good and evil. He is interested in the extension of human rights to the online world, including issues related to privacy and surveillance, and how the law struggles to keep up with today’s ever evolving technologies.
Starting the MA in September 2019, we quickly realised that although we visualise subjects in a wide range of different methods and work in different ways, our project themes crossed over significantly; covering topics such as state secrecy, human rights and freedom of information. We also found that we each take a research driven approach to our work.
Following a workshop about visualising tax avoidance at LCC run by Lewis Bush, we decided to group and discuss our, then current projects, all of which sought to visualise the unseen in some way. This was during MAPJD’s famous ‘Rethink’ unit, in which our existing practises as photographers were challenged, dissected and figuratively turned on their heads. This unit allowed us to recognise that our individual work could benefit hugely from each other’s feedback, and that we were all interested in continuing to work collaboratively after we graduated.
Since graduating in December and being able to focus more on making RAKE a reality, we have found that everyone’s varied skill sets work well together. Between us we have a pragmatic physicist, an impulsive activist, a conceptual artist and a tech whiz, making it easy and efficient to divide different tasks amongst our members, including data analytics, design, curation, admin and social media, all of which are vital for our upcoming launch. We have learnt rapidly together ‘on the job’, and while our first practical step was simply setting up an Instagram and a collective email, we have also taken the time to crystallise the collective’s intent, plot the future structure and expansion of the group and focus on our first collaborative project.
Our current project is an investigation into the SQL database from Iron March, a now-defunct neo-Nazi & white supremacist message board that was leaked in November. The data contains the entirety of the site’s information including user names, registered emails, IP addresses of users, all of the forum’s public posts and even private messages between members. The message board has been linked with violent worldwide neo-Nazi group Atomwaffen Division.
RAKE Launch Event on 28 February 2020
It has been really exciting to be able to work as a collective on this investigation, to combine and critique different ideas to visualise the data and hone in on specific leads together. We have all previously worked together on various shows throughout the MA, and our current focus is making our launch event on the 28 February a success, where we will be showing some work in progress from the project as well as some individual work.
We very much hope to see UAL students there, and will be introducing the collective to visitors.
Launch night tickets are free, and food and drink will be provided, but booking via Eventbrite is essential.
The exhibition will also be open to the public on the 29 February and 1 March 2020 when tickets are not needed.
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