Talbot Rice Gallery

Fabienne Hess

July–Oct 2015


Fabienne Hess began her TRG3 project by exploring the University of Edinburgh’s Collections, in particular the recent process of photographing and making the archive available online. This process of digitizing, which started in the summer of 2012, has involved photographing almost 25,000 diverse items, from ancient manuscripts to musical instruments, anatomical drawings to historic maps. By bringing all these images together and reproducing them on a vast silk fabric, Fabienne gives the collection a tangible scale whilst deftly illustrating the diverse and at times, bizarre nature of the some of the archived items.

Whilst constructing the fabric Fabienne was drawn to consider how the digital archive is used and navigated by the online audience. Which are the most popular images? And which ones have never been looked at? Using the University server’s index and Google analytics these two groups of images are presented in Hits and Misses on 2 monitors. At the top end, thousands of clicks ahead of all the others is one of the University’s most treasured Persian manuscripts, at the bottom there are thousands of images that have never been accessed: early editions of Shakespeare, Western Medieval manuscripts, Scottish maps from 1550 and much more.

Throughout the process Fabienne has also created a series of ‘sub-collections’- these groupings, put together in arbitrary themes such as those images containing a red dot, those featuring a person raising an arm, a triangular shape, a certain shade of blue, create a fascinating set of ‘new’ collections. These will appear throughout the exhibition period on the project website.


The artist's publication Zebras, Blanks and Blobs published by Common Editions was produced after the exhibition period, containing texts by Neil Lebeter and Stuart Fallon. 


Fabienne Hess' website


Chris Park (c) Talbot Rice Gallery