4.1 Designing the experiment

It was considered an imperative research aim that the process of collage-making, both as an imaginative process during the Reformation and as an archaeological framework, be not only related but translated for the audience. Participants, or users, had to be able to explore different roles in the performance of an archaeology of discipline in the past, including scripts (doctrine and scripture), actors (reader, early modern Scot and archaeologist), sets (landscapes and architecture) and props (material culture). Furthermore, this participation had to be user-led: the participant had to be free to engage with any or all of these roles at their own discretion. This dictated that the participants should be enabled to engage with the performance of discipline in the past by finding meaning through actively, and variably, reconstituting the elements of the performance of discipline in the past. However, it also meant that, simultaneously, the experiment had both to illuminate the creative processes that underlie archaeological interpretation and facilitate participant engagement in those processes.

Unfortunately, the linear nature of a typical written document did not meet these goals, as it did not enable understanding of both the performance of discipline and the archaeological process. It failed, fundamentally, to translate the role of collage-making in both cases i.e. the processes of working with and variably constituting elements present in the world in order to understand it were lost. The essential element of collage-making, distinct from a final set collage, is that it is a process of trialling new connections between mixed media. Anything is possible, within the limitations of the material provided. In a linear document this would be lost in favour of a synthesised and permanent collage created by the author, in which no new combinations would be facilitated.

In order to reinstate the collage-making process itself into the document, the experiment was structured as a series of short chapters. These were designed to be read in any order, with possible pathways through the chapters suggested by a selection of hyperlinks at the end of each chapter. Even with the possibility of re-reading in different orders, a further issue detracted from translating the collage-making: the format still required that material be classified by the archaeologist under interpretative headings in order to divide it into chapters. To address this, the links were also used to illuminate places where categories have diffuse or artificial margins. They were intended to facilitate reader transgression of the limitations of classificatory boundaries and linear text.

To further highlight the collage-making element, a collage pack containing a series of images and text extracts was provided that could be arranged and combined in novel ways through juxtaposition to one another or with the short chapters and images therein. Combined, the collage pack and keyword elements were designed to facilitate direct participation in the exploration of novel connections; however, they are simultaneously a translation of experience in the past. They acknowledge the multitude of routes to Reformed experience and illustrate the almost infinite number of ways individuals could have negotiated their complex and changing world. Some would have accepted Reformed doctrine at the outset, participated in iconoclasm and viewed material culture as a useful tool of discipline. Others would not, retaining many medieval interests and, perhaps fearing discipline, conforming to Reformed practice to avoid future punishment. Based upon their own previous experiences and understandings of tradition, scripture, material culture and many other factors, individuals and communities could, therefore, prioritise and mobilise different interpretations of the performance of discipline in ways that were at once unique and culturally defined. The keywords and collage pack were designed to communicate this capacity to prioritise and mobilise different elements against a common backdrop, in this case defined by the archaeologist's research, rather than a living society.

In this translation of the experiences in the past, the elements provided for collage-making, and the process itself, are designed to communicate experiences of 'everyday' experience of performance, as opposed to the public spectacle of official performance, particularly as discussed by Hodder (2006). They provide the backdrop; engagement with the culture that created the performance and which the performance created. However, it is also necessary to communicate the public display element of performance. To invite the reader into the audience, and to integrate both backdrop and display, a fictional narrative based on accounts from kirk session records is included. This is read both before and after the short chapters. The inclusion of the narrative aims to allow the reader to establish the difference between interpretations based on function and superficial meaning (first reading) and those incorporating translated physical and imaginative experiences (second reading). Furthermore, the double incorporation of the story translates not only the performance of discipline as the final act of the church service, but its familiarity as sinners graced the stool week after week.

The narrative included has been written with deliberation of debate within the archaeological discipline regarding the place of storytelling in archaeological discourse. It is used not as a hypothetical tool (Gibb 2000), but as a means of communicating the essence of a data-rich study in a way that facilitates understanding about the human condition (Little 2000). It strives for authenticity, not by recounting cases of real people and events, but by incorporating the many elements discussed in the short chapters through created characters (Little 2000, 11; Joyce 2006, 55-7). This use of fiction is also intended to highlight the inherently creative aspects of archaeological interpretation, and in addition to foster an environment that supports user-led imaginative engagements with the material. The narrative is preceded by a short 'performance programme' and a series of flow charts, which afford the reader the contextual knowledge available through traditional discourse on the subject.

Overall, the experiment represents a concerted effort to tackle the key communicative difficulties distancing subject, archaeologist and audience often presented by traditional discourse (Hamilakis 2002, 103; Dicks and Hurdley 2009). Furthermore, it is an attempt to translate the world of other things; to look beyond the printed word and the theological Word so often dwelled upon in Reformation scholarship, and to communicate how the material of daily life shaped experiences of being individual and of community after the Reformation.


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