Louise Curham is an archivist, media artist and researcher based in Canberra. She is a lecturer in the School of Information Studies teaching into the archives, records and audiovisual preservation subjects. Louise uses her art and her expertise as an archivist to explore themes that flow from old media, ranging from digitisation to the impact of algorithm-based technology on citizens.
In her art practice, Louise makes performances, photographic works, video and 16mm films and installations. The themes she explores are decoding the ‘black box’ of contemporary technology and extending the life of old media through creative archiving. Her methods include hand processing super 8 and 16 mm film, making performances using old media and re-enacting early media art performance.
Her PhD research explored looking after heritage items that elude digitsation. A key historical influence for her media art is expanded cinema, a form from the 1960s and 1970s that combined live performance with media. Its combination of a focus on the relationship with the audience and the performance of technology has seen a wave of international activity and scholarship in the area of expanded cinema; Louise is actively involved in this. Re-enacting expanded cinema has formed a key part of Louise’s work in the past decade within the artist group Teaching and Learning Cinema (TLC) with artist and scholar Lucas Ihlein.
Drawing together communities around media has also formed part of Louise’s work. She was a convenor of regular media art screenings and performances through the Sydney Moving Image Coalition (2002-5) and its successor group TLC (2006– ). Current projects extend Louise’s practice of building communities around media to questions of how communities represent themselves through technology. This takes the form of a community locative media project, The West Kambah Peoples’ Map. This project connects Louise’s work in old media with her work as aleader in environment volunteering in her local area, surfacing the potential for ecological thinking that engaging with old media contains.
Since the early 1990s, Louise has presented exhibitions, public programs and community events throughout Australia and internationally. Her art has been supported by ArtsACT (2020, 2013), Bundanon Trust (2012), BankART1929 (Yokohama, Japan), UNSW Student Union (2002), Creative New Zealand (1995). Her research has been supported by the University of Canberra Centre for Creative and Cultural Research (2016). She is a recipient of the Margaret Jennings award of the Australian Society of Archivists and the University of Canberra Pitch for Funds (joint winner 2016). Her film works are in the collection of Ngā Taonga Sound and Vision (NZ) and the National Film and Sound Archive (Australia).