Brief

How can we create a digital tool that explores black british culture within the context of Somerset House?

Client

Doteveryone

What we did

We welcomed six talented young artists to their first project as a part of Somerset House’s Young producers program.

After doing introductions, we spoke about how deeply important it was to preserve Black heritage and history in the UK, and also to critically question the lens through which history is presented to us.

Whose stories are being prioritised? Whose are discarded? How could we celebrate the culture, traditions, and worldviews of people in our communities?

Naturally, conversations began to arise around how history, art, and identity are deeply interlinked with each other.

In our workshops together, we asked other questions such as: What does digital storytelling look like? And how can we recognise black joy, spirituality and creativity through an interactive tool?

Some of the discussion topics included:

• Exploring different ways of storytelling through engagement and education on a large scale

• Communicating a new perspective on black history and de-centering eurocentric perspectives

• Making work that inspires thinking and conversation

• Understanding how historical events have shaped today

• Learning more about afro-futurism, queer black communities

Like the majority of our projects, we did not have a specific vision of what the end product would look like aside from the fact that it would be a digital tool.

With this in mind, it was important that the experience would be accessible to people of all different ages and digital literacy backgrounds.

After our first meeting we set the future producers the task of researching a topic they were interested in learning more about. They also participated in a walking tour to learn more about history behind Somerset House.

In order to bring these ideas together and create something from them, we launched two Ideation sessions at Somerset House (and were finally able to meet in real life!)

We decided that the final product would be interactive and encourage the user to ‘learn through the process of playing’ with the digital tool.

The theme of this project revolved around ancestors, archiving and documenting, therefore everyone agreed that this experience would encourage people to make something that could be memorialised.

Results

An interactive platform that allows the user to engage virtually with over 16 key objects from, and inspired by, Somerset House’s exhibition past, spanning Afro-nowism, Afrofuturism, political arts and disobedient objects.

Using these objects as materials, you are able to build your own artistic creations and contribute to the Decentralise archive, exploring how themes from the exhibition archive relate to the personal and collective experiences of what it means to be Black and British.

Each time an object is selected on the website, an ‘information bite’ appears, provoking the reader to reflect on how culture, history and the stories of men and women have been ‘archived’ in the form of objects and art.

We invite you to use Decentralise.