Project Manager: Professor Katharine Ellis, Institute of Musical Research, University of London, 2009

PRIMO was a research project that produced an open-access multimedia repository for people working in practice as research,specifically in music, which had “traditionally lacked research support structures beyond the standard form of print journals with notated music examples”.

“Why ask practice-based researchers to describe their work [i.e. through written publications] when they could demonstrate it more effectively?”

The aims of the project were
• To add to the research infrastructure by offering research practitioners a new kind of publication platform tailored to their needs.
• To overcome the IPR difficulties associated with online performance of in-copyright music.

PRIMO uses e-prints institutional repository software, and via the use of wikis gives users clear instructions on the kinds of files that are suitable for uploading, and the sort of metadata that needs to accompany the submission – with advice on naming works and wording abstracts to allow research outputs to be found by search engines. Metadata fields that are available to the public cover things like performer or researcher , date,  venue, website, context of the performance,  acknowledgements of funding, and third-party copyright etc. as well as contact details of the researchers involved.

There is extensive guidance on copyright, both for those submitting and those viewing material. Indeed, according to the report, the project manager’s highest priority for the first six months was discussion with IPR experts and with PRS for music, trying to sort out ways to keep the site legal, yet still be able to stream and allow downloading of material. The requirement for all users wishing to download files to create an account and log in, creates a user profile that gives an indication of their location (e.g of their IP address) which allows for geo-blocking of content that is prohibited from download outside the UK, important if the site is to comply with PRS licensing.

The site contains both audio and video files which illustrate research processes through “actions rather than description”. These files can be downloaded and cited, and each downloadable file is accompanied by a creative commons license. Uploaded research files are subject to peer review, making PRIMO a “creative mix between the peer-reviewed journal and an institutional repository”.

The final report on this project is available here

And PRIMO itself is here:


As we are researching ways of getting defiant objects into a repository type setting, it is part of my job to look at how artistic research outputs are being handled by other people. This journal states that it is an “international, online, Open Access and peer-reviewed journal for the identification, publication and dissemination of artistic research and its methodologies, from all arts disciplines.” so it should be worth a look.

It doesn’t have articles, it has ‘expositions’, which are presented in a way which can take a bit of getting used to, as they are not necessarily linear, but there is some interesting stuff here, and some beautiful artwork, such as Mr. Dodge: The Bibliography Raincoat by Sarah Alford. The research and background to these artworks is as important to capture and showcase as the works themselves.  I will be interested to see what metadata are being used for these expositions on the accompanying Research Catalogue.

Screenshot of the front page of the Journal for Artistic Research

In 2009, we produced a guide to file formats for the Media Working Group. The following requirements were taken into account

I Web-delivery: files need to be easily viewed in browser, this pertains both to bandwidth issues (which affects the time it takes to view objects) and wider support (some formats require plug-ins to be viewed in browsers)

I Open standards: non-proprietary formats are preferred as software vendors can go out of business, start charging for certain usage, also proprietary formats can be patent-encumbered

I Compliance with IR funding bodies

I Preservation: formats should be easily migrated and normalised to preservation standard

To do download the PDF click Overview of file formats.

Visualising the metadata universe by Jenn Riley (content) and Devin Becker (design). Copyright Jenn Riley.

This is a neat and good-looking overview of the metadata standards in the cultural heritage sector. We’ll shortly be reviewing this with a view to drawing lessons for defiant objects. The full scale PDF and glossary can be found on here


Bekky has been doing some research and has come across a number of seriously defiant objects. We’ve decided to describe them in several different ways using different existing metadata schemes: Dublin Core Metadata Element Set, Version 1.1, SPECTRUM, VRA Core 4.0, CDWA, KULTUR and CCO. We’ll be doing it separately so as to see how subjective descriptions can be. The first one is a piece by the artist Felix Gonzalez-Torres entitled “Untitled (Public Opinion)”, 1991. It consists of licorice candy, individually wrapped in cellophane and is part of the collection of the Guggenheim Museum in New York.

Felix Gonzalez-Torres, Untitled (public Opinion), 1991, Installation view at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York. Photo by David Heald.

This document, prepared in 2010, comprises preparatory work for the LEAP Multimedia Working Group guide to creating metadata for multimedia repository deposits.

The brief for the guide is to produce “a guide for non-experts in how to recognise different classes of item, what metadata should be regarded as essential to each and where to get expert help”.

In order to meet this brief, the group identified metadata schema that seek to describe classes of non-textual items. A selection of these schemas was used as a basis for analysis and comparison to identify distinctive metadata requirements for different kinds of outputs. The schemas used for this comparison were:

I Visual Resource Association (VRA) core 4.0

I Categories for the Description of Works of Art (CDWA)

I Public Broadcasting Core (PBCore) elements

I KULTUR project metadata elements

I Safeguarding European Photographic Images for Access Data Element Set (SEPIADES) core elements

Click LEAP metadata guide draft to download the PDF.

We, Tahani Nadim and Rebecca Randall (both Goldsmiths), have begun work on the SHERPA-LEAP project Defiant Objects. See the About page for more details on the project. The first stage comprises what we call the “Literature Review” though it reviews much more than just the literature: Bekky has been looking at digital archives, institutional and otherwise, while Tahani could be found in the stores of Goldsmiths’ Special Collections trying to find difficult objects.

Some of these have now been tamed into this blog’s banner image, which consists of the following materials (from left to right):

I Materials from Stephen Willat‘s Tower Mosaic, a project that ran from 29 April to 12 May 1991 in the Warwick and Brindley Estate in North London. The project included community participation, an evolving installation, participant research materials and methods, photographs, collages, printed ephemera such as “Mosaic sheets” (see first image), posters and invitation cards (see third image).

I The third issue of LTTR journal entitled “Practice More Failure” published 3 July 2004. Put together by the LTTR member Emily Roysdon, Ginger Brooks Takahashi and K8 Hardy, the journal is an assemblage of very many different parts and objects: It comes in an envelope which contains a bound booklet whose pages can be folded out and turned into individual posters. There is also a smaller envelope (see second picture) that includes a poster by Carrie Moyer and a stapled zine as well as an even smaller envelope containing “IOU” cards by Michelle Marchese.

I A programme booklet by artist Emma Hedditch, entitled “A Political Feeling, I Hope So” produced for her “residency” at Cubitt, London. This lists the events, such as a concert, film screenings and open meetings, that were carried out during the three-day residency, from 30 January to 1 February 2004.

The difficulties that arise in relation to the above items when viewed as research outputs for inclusion in institutional repositories are multiple: Is the research output the entire project or does it need disarticulation? If it’s the entire project, what are its parts and should we be comprehensive, i.e. document as many individual aspects as possible? Who are the authors? Who are the contributors? Does it make sense to retain the category of “author”?

These are just some of the ad hoc issues we’re confronted when trying to include such objects in our digital archives. In the course of the project, we’ll attempt to formalise these issues.