A unique physical document that is a contemporary digital rendition of the United Kingdom's Public Records Act 1958.
Public Records Act 1958–2020 is a unique physical document that is a contemporary digital rendition of the United Kingdom's Public Records Act 1958. This piece of primary legislation established the nation's modern regulatory framework for public records and thus provides the existential basis for The National Archives. Like all laws of the United Kingdom, the Act has been amended numerous times by other Acts of Parliament and is always subject to change.
On 1 January 2020, an updated version of the Public Records Act 1958 was generated using the legislation.gov.uk online service. This new revision was then algorithmically translated into a series of machine-readable barcodes that were assembled into a digital master document. As with all Acts of Parliament throughout history, the encoded Act was then laid to vellum. In this instance, the latest direct-to-media printing technology was combined with hand finished 24-carat gold gilded highlights. Like other historical documents that are carefully produced using vellum, if properly stored and cared for, this digital-analogue artefact will likely survive for several thousand years. However, only with access to the technology used in its creation will the document remain readable.
Department of Collection Care, The National Archives, UK [ artwork creation ]
Lora Angelova, Emilie Cloos, and Solange Fitzgerald [ TNA: dialogue & research ] . Martin McGrath [ installation design ] . Type Creative Ltd [ digital printing ] . William Cowley Parchment Makers [ vellum supply ]
Public Records Act 1958–2020 v1.0 was commissioned and produced by The National Archives, UK for its [re]Encoding the Archive exhibition (Winter 2021 - Spring 2022). The artwork was acquired by the institution in 2021 to be part of its permanent art collection.