Jordanian Map
Exploring cultural artefacts and their contexts.

“This project will explore the validity of social artefacts and their interpreted context by means of participatory social art experiments.”

Mark Abouzeid and Sophie Beer


It is a fundamental principle of post-Hellenic civilisations that by studying the past, man can better understand the present and control the future. The assumption is that history is linear; if we project backwards from the present, we will always understand the artefacts of the past since our modern society derives from that past state. This principle assumes perfect knowledge of context, free of cultural bias based on a singular universal historic timeline.

Cases over the past few centuries including the numerous interpretations of Warburg’s Atlas and anthropological mistakes in judging language development in tribal cultures (Abouzeid 2014) have raised questions about the way we maintain and learn from our history: the role of artefacts devoid of context.

Moreover, the collection, archiving and presentation of artefacts in a world driven by commercial priorities often gives rise to misinterpretation or completely false conclusions (Brontosaurus).

Finally, with a growing emphasis on preserving Intangible Cultural Heritage, the classic model of artefact based history can no longer be applied universally.

As was true when the Gutenberg bible opened learning to the masses and created a new form of cultural artefact, the subjective/secondary written text, digital artefacts are currently favoured in academic circles. Hailed as universal or global insight, many researchers and ethnographers have ignored issues of platform bias, social performance dynamics and future viability of archiving.

This project will explore the validity of social artefacts and their interpreted context by means of participatory social art experiments. We want to use true empirical method (research, experiment & observe) to test assumptions in the artefact – interpretation – transmission model.

Based on the Identikit methodology (theorised by Abouzeid/Beer) we will study how selection and presentation of artefacts, both physical and digital, impacts social context interpretation both in the field and in museums. It will involve workshops with practitioners, exhibit based research and audience engagement designed to observe how types of artefacts and their presentation impact assumptions of cultural context and history

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