Experimental ResearchTales from the ARC - John Hansard Gallery

Tales from the ARC - The Mike Kenner Archive - John Hansard Gallery 2010

Research systems are tinkered arrangements that are not set up for the purpose of repetitive operation but for the continuous re-emergence of unexpected events.

Experimentation, as a machine for making the future, has to engender unexpected events.

Hans-Jorg Rheinberger (Epistemic Things)

Experimental research is a critical process and mode of operation of Office of Experiments. Our research combines expertise from across disciplines, and yet is non-disciplinary. The research is in some cases the work itself - at other times it leads to the development of resources from which further work is drawn. Various methods, models, collaborative approaches and interventions are used. Working outside institutional agandas but with disciplinary knowledge, we are interested in emerging cultural forms as radical experiments in knowledge production.

Overt Research Project

The Overt Research Project is based on the interrogation of the private and public imagination in relation to spaces in the techno-scientific and industrial /military complex. From documentation of physical sites to material evidence, this enquiry has found a powerful currency in sites that are closed or difficult to access, in scientific use today or not. The first field guide to be published online, Dark Places: A Field guide to the South, is available online now. It was part of a broader exhibition of the same name at John Hansard Gallery, and explored the ways in which such places are both embedded and imaginatively narrated as part of a contemporary UK landscape. This project initially geo-mapped and documented in the field, sites across the South/South West region of the UK, and allowed the public to view works in a range of contexts including an acclaimed Secrecy and Technology Cold War Bus Tour. Follow the link for more information.

The next phase 'Experimental Ruins', will be focused on sub-urban London. Critical to this enquiry is the Office acknowledged mapping of how techno-scientific space is further changing as a result of its virtualisation and networked functions. Sifting through a contracting footprint and the material remainders of progress, the project will be inclusive of public perceptions, their knowledge and local experiences, as they participate in visits and critical excursions or in online research activities. Experimental Ruins will document the fleeting nature of new ruins in the sub-urban context, the debris of occupation, to explore our imagination of these sites by giving access to both factual and speculative interpretation. To take part, follow the links at Dark Places.

The ARC - The Autonomous Researcher Collection

The Autonomous Researcher Collection is a seed project to establish an archive for researchers, campaigners and activists whose life work around sites of interest or campaigns sits outside of standard institutional interests. In this respect, our aim is to source and safeguard original or facsimilied/ digitised versions of these assets for future generations. Often highly subjective and personal, politicised and radical, these archives nonetheless represent an incredible alternative view of the way in which knowledge sites operate within a social, political context, an aesthetic of power.

The Autonomous Researcher Collection was started following the donation by Mike Kenner of his digitised archive. This is the founding archive, which records over thirty years of research and engagement with Freedom of Information requests around sites such as Porton Down (Biochemical Warfare) in the UK ,and extends to co-operative research experiments conducted by UK establishment with others such as the USA (Dice Trials).

The ARC project has allowed us to catalogue a large section of the archive, which is now searchable wherever the archive is physically displayed. Due to the sensitive nature of the documents, we do not publish this resource online - but make it available in physical form - in its entirety or as mini-displays of information. For highlightsfrom the archive see Mike Kenner Archive.

If you would like to discuss an archive that you believe would be suitable for inclusion in the ARC, please contact us here.

Mike Kenner Archive catalogue prepared by Ross Robertson for Office of Experiments.