The William Black Archive

The William Blake Archive is driven by illustrations. From browsing to content, everything is centered on visuals. In terms of the content itself, the archive contains “Illuminated” books, commercial book illustrations, separate prints and prints in series, drawings and paintings, and manuscripts and typographic works. The organization of all the options is laid out in a very easy to access manner. On the home page every single document can be accessed through a single click. Browsing can be done by sampling through illustrations on the homepage that are linked to their respective documents. If a specific document is needed then there is also a search option.

“The archive preserves and reserves, protects and patrols, regulates and represses. The architecture of the archive and the sentinels who control access to its interior…” (Werner).This archive is supported by archival theory in that it preserves knowledge in its architecture (its architecture being the website). It protects knowledge from being forgotten. And it regulates knowledge by focusing on protecting specific works such as works by William Blake and artists similar to him.


2 thoughts on “The William Black Archive

  1. Group A: Respondent
    I agree that the Blake Archive follows the archive theory in its architectural manifestation. Additionally, it is very much an example of “Illuminated” works as you quoted from Voss and Werner. However, I believe there is more than one way to look at the implications of this type of archive.
    You quoted that “’The archive preserves and reserves, protects and patrols, regulates and represses. The architecture of the archive and the sentinels who control access to its interior…’ (Werner).” It could also be said, as it is just a little further down the page by Voss and Werner, that “this architecture may also be a reminder of the archive’s susceptibility to both external and internal forces of wastage. The history of the archive, on one hand of a history of conservation, is, on the other hand, a history of loss. The archives of antiquity have long since been vanished; we receive their contents as fragments or only as citations in later works.” (Voss and Werner). I only say this to to play the devils advocate. There are obvious implications if works are not preserved in archives (digital or not). However, the first thought I have when staring at beautiful pieces of art through an LED screen is, what intrinsic value, beauty and aesthetic is lost when works are viewed in this way? Just something to think about.

    • I think that the point Braigen made about how the sense of these works is not the same on a computer screen is interesting because it brings up one of the trade-offs of a digital archive. The accessibility that you gain to the contents is far greater, since I assume that most people would not be able to travel to see all of these works in person. However, the experience of viewing some works is tied to seeing them in person. I do think that the level of accessibility that a digital archive provides is interesting. ¬Compared to what Werner and Voss said, “To archive documents is to enclose them in a complex of protected spaces, including stone or metal boxes, or in folders between pieces of acid-free paper,” the use of a digital archive takes away some of the barriers that might have prevented you from viewing the works.

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