The Visual Resources Centre at Manchester School of Art contains more than 300,000 photographic slides. This collection was once at the heart of the Art School’s teaching practices. Its contents document a century of art education. But times have changed. In the rush to embrace the digital and all it can do, the value of such ‘obsolete’ technologies is in danger of being lost.
Prompted by proposals to dispose of the collection, Adopt a Slide began as a collaborative student project. We invited people simply to browse the collection, pick a slide and respond to it. In two short months, over 70 people have done so. Some are fascinated by analogue image-making processes. For others, it is the collection’s particular history of art and design. Or it is the jolt of the familiar, the unexpected find of personal significance. Such responses have clearly demonstrated the collection’s ongoing relevance, both as historic artefact and ongoing source of creative inspiration.
The Art School has since announced its intention to transfer the entire collection to the University’s Special Collections. So the project continues. Our invitation stands. Adopt a slide. Choose just one – photograph it, write about it – and post it here. There is so much more to discover. Collectively, your response can help document the unique history of this collection, to explore its complex and multi-layered potential, and to ensure its place within the Art School for years to come.