This paper demonstrates through my own creative praxis the challenges imposed when documenting multi-media ephemeral art. My Masters of Arts by Research investigates how a creative arts praxis can use installation art to illuminate family archive materiality and the effect this might have on the performance of memory. Photography and installation art converge within practices of archiving and, over the last thirty years, has been increasingly used by artists within contemporary art practice to question memory and history (McTighe, 2012). The ephemeral and site-specific nature of installation art relies on documentation. However, this documentation drastically alters the viewing conditions and historical record of the installation itself (McTighe, 2012; Real, 2010).
This paper will discuss firstly, Online Archives of Family Objects (2015) and I Forget Now (2015) to illustrate the necessity for artists to extend into the role of an ‘archivist’. The archives that comprise ephemeral and site-specific art demand multiple layers of documentation spanning the ‘final’ exhibited installations and the process of studio inquiry. Secondly, this paper explores how documentation has become a vital element to reflexively engage with my own practice-led research. Slide Nights (2015) developed through studio experimentation and exhibiting in The Substance of Memory (2015) and Object Data Memory (2015). Documentation of creative praxis contextualises how the artist has arrived at the ‘outcomes’ of their arts practice, which facilitates a richer dimension to academic outcomes in post-graduate art and design education.