(Welcome) Back to the Future

Work on SP-ARK, the Sally Potter online archive, is now underway, with material and virtual archives starting to happen simultaneously, in collaboration with Goldsmiths, University of London.

Treasures uncovered so far include a hundred photographs of the Mosfilm studios, taken just before the Yeltsin putsch; a handwritten contract – in Russian, on a napkin – to shoot sections of Orlando in Khiva, Uzbekistan; and the original presentation book hand-made by Sally Potter, in 1988, to show potential financiers with colour prints of Tilda Swinton in various historical costumes at Knole House.

On the virtual side, Professor Michael Casey and database expert Adrian Evans will be advising us on the digital management of these “assets,” as they are known in the trade. Professor Michael Casey is course director for the Creative Computing B.Sc. at Goldsmiths and director of the Media Futures Laboratory in Goldsmiths Digital Studios. Also based at Goldsmiths, Adrian Evans is a former BBC archivist who has co-developed a unique asset management system, called the ‘Media Matrix’, that allows filmmakers to organise and access all their pre-production material digitally, using a heavyweight Oracle database.

What you’ll see when the website goes live, however, will be the work of Martins Skujins a London-based web designer who has worked for many media organisations. He’ll be creating the user specs that will make SP-ARK a unique interactive experience.

SP-ARK is now set to be live online by autumn 2008. Before that, we will be trialling the pilot in a number of undergraduate and graduate level courses within the Media and Communications department at Goldsmiths, starting with a demo on 26th November 2007 for students and faculty members including Chris Berry, Julian Henriques, Rachel Moore, Janet Harbord, and Judy Holland.

If you would like to be part of the research and development process, hosting a workshop where students can enjoy exclusive access to SP-ARK and the opportunity to give essential feedback, then please get in touch with the Education Co-ordinator, Sophie Mayer. We can also collaborate with you on designing lectures and assignments based around Sally Potter’s work and SP-ARK.

Look out for a piece on SP-ARK by Sophie, in the dossier section of a forthcoming issue of Screen – thanks to Jackie Stacey, Annette Kuhn and John Caughie for their interest in the project! Screen published the first academic article to discuss Sally Potter’s work, back in 1979, about Thriller: So it feels very apposite that they have invited us to contribute a piece about SP-ARK.