Earlier this year, students from the Media Department of Walsall College created short films responding to the Unknown Archive. The students were told that the archive, while complete, was of unknown origin and it was their job to investigate the material and crack the mystery.
What the students did not know at the time was that the archive was fake. It was put together by staff at The New Art Gallery and Walsall College and contained some items from a house clearance along with other pieces hoovered, borrowed and siphoned from our own lives. This created a slightly confusing stramash of material that had many dead ends and red herrings contained within it. An experiment of sorts, we waited to see what, if anything, the students produced. Along with the physical material, the students used footage from the amazing Prelinger Archive to add visual representations to their findings.
We were amazed, if not slightly annoyed, when all of the groups disregarded our red herrings and homed in on the few pieces of truth within the fake archive. Each group concentrated on the story of the family that emerges from the material taken from the house clearance – the protagonists of which are genuinely unknown to us. The students produced funny, thoughtful and insightful films that are presented here. We hope that you enjoy them.
The students may have foiled our plan this time, but the Unknown Archive will be back…
In Birth We Reach Our Death: Sam Dunn, Jordan Murray, Aiden Johannes and Nathaniel Sharpe
Past My Hands: Sam Woodhall, Isabelle Ball, Emma Steventon and Ben Swash
Letter of Inconsideration: Matt Woolley, Sam Archer, Mitch Stanyer, Zafraan Iqbal and Tom Hadley