Cornwall Symposium on Traces and Technology

The Cornwall Hotel & The Eden Project
22–24 February 2024

The event will draw on local expertise on tracing technologies of the past, with a focus on Cornwall’s history and heritage in maritime activities and mining. Convened in historic sites of Cornwall’s technological past in St Austell (The Cornwall Hotel was a site of tin mining and treasure hunting. The Eden Project was previously a china clay mining pit), the Symposium explores how these traces of the past are also a way to trace a potential regenerative future. The satellite antenna site in Goonhilly is now repurposed to support ESA and NASA’s moon-bound missions, the clay pit near St Austell has been successfully transformed into The Eden Project.

Participants at the Symposium will discuss the challenges and potential of technologically-driven regeneration in levelling-up regions, learning from regions that have a historic past of specialised technological developments (e.g. mining). This event provides a potential to evaluate the impact of developmental initiatives (e.g. The Eden Project), with the goal to producing highly policy-relevant results.

The symposium will see participants develop an advanced outline and article introduction for a special issue. The event will synergize the following themes: technological legacy and heritage, legacy of technological uses and their regenerative futures.

Keynote Speaker
Prof Martin Siegert FRSE
Deputy Vice-Chancellor of University of Exeter (Cornwall)

Working Group 4 is honoured to welcome Prof Siegert, world-renowned polar scientist, as the Symposium’s Keynote Speaker.

Symposium Convenor / Convening Working Group Lead
Dr Nikita Chiu FRSA
Senior Lecturer in Innovation Policy
University of Exeter
Ad Astra Distinguished Fellow in Robotic & Outer Space Governance, Space Engineering Research Center

WG4 members tracing the history of tin miners' discovery of Anglo-Saxon artefacts in Trewhiddle.
WG4 members tracing the history of tin miner’s discovery of Anglo-Saxon artefacts in Trewhiddle at The Cornwall, St Austell. Photo credit: T. Dome

Working Group 4 gathered at The Cornwall and The Eden Project at St Austell between 22 – 24 February 2024 to advance preparation and discussions on a prospective inter-disciplinary special issue. The special issue, designed to explore the interplay between technological evolution, mainstream and alternative approaches, seeks to highlight and reconcile diverse scientific practices in capturing, analysing, and interpreting historic data and past traces. The working group first convened at the historic site of Trewhiddle – now home of The Cornwall Hotel – and learned that historic traces of tin miner and their associated streaming activities on the land in 1774. The WG learned that in tracing the presence of tin, using mining technologies, the tin miners discovered a collection of artifacts of Anglo-Saxon origin that date back to the 9th century. These discovered artifacts were later known as the “Trewhiddle hoard.” Subsequently, the term “Trewhiddle” came to be used to describe the style employed in around the 8th and 9th century in Anglo-Saxon ornamental and daily objects.


Magdalena Zych
Museums as the Memory Technology of the Future

Futurocentric technology of memory practices is that one which is rooted in changing museums nowadays. In this specific field relations between objects and people, knowledge and activism, heritage and social justice are the structure shaping the future. Using the concept of ‘field museology’ developed from ethnographic collections practices, where the category of relationship is the frame, I will analyze different museum’s experiences including cases from previous meetings of the group in Ancona, Exeter, Zagreb and St Austell, collected through interviews and other documents.

Katarzyna Nestorowicz
Trace the History by the Font: The Evolution of Futura and Its Political Appropriation

Futura font (wikipedia)

The plaque was located on the foot of the lunar landing vehicle, which was left behind on the moon (image by Wikipedia)

The history of fonts is a captivating journey through time, revealing not only the evolution of design but also the profound impact fonts can have on politics and culture. One such font that exemplifies this intricate relationship is Futura. Developed as a modernized typography, Futura boldly departed from the traditional heritage of calligraphy, making it a symbol of progress and contemporaneity.

From Modernity to Propaganda:
Futura’s journey began as a brave departure from calligraphic roots, asserting itself as a beacon of modernity. However, the font took an unexpected turn during a darker period of history – the era of Nazi propaganda. Transforming into a tool for political messaging, Futura became associated with illegibility, manipulated to serve the sinister purposes of the regime.

Convenience and Modernity in the 60s:
Despite its dark past, Futura found redemption in the 1960s. It emerged as one of the most convenient fonts for instructions and reports, with people perceiving it as the epitome of modernity. Its clean lines and simplicity made it an ideal choice for a generation embracing progress and innovation.

Artistic Expression in the 70s:
Venturing into the art world, Futura became an iconic typeface for American Conceptual artist Barbara Kruger in the late 1970s. Its bold, sans-serif characteristics made it a powerful tool for conveying impactful messages, transcending its utilitarian origins to become a form of artistic expression.

Cosmic Exploration and Beyond:
The 1990s brought Futura to new heights as it ventured beyond Earth. It became the first typeface to land on the Moon, used in the Apollo 11 mission. The commemorative plaque left on the lunar surface in July 1969 features text set in Futura, marking a historic moment in space exploration. In 1992, a Cyrillic version of Futura was selected for the logo of Roscosmos, the Russian Space Agency, symbolizing the font’s global reach.

Futura’s trajectory from a symbol of modernity to an instrument of political propaganda, artistic expression, and cosmic exploration showcases the font’s remarkable versatility and impact on our collective history. As we trace the history by the font, Futura stands as a testament to the nuanced relationship between design, politics, and cultural evolution.

Marcin Nowicki
The Bird trapped in the technological dome (in Cornwell).

It is a short film that serves as an allegorical journey, blending humour and profound reflection on the delicate balance between genuine freedom and the artificial confines of technology. The story revolves around a bird inadvertently trapped in a high-tech dome in Cornwell, becoming a symbolic representation of humanity’s quest for freedom through AI tools and simulated environments.