Research Projects


Keepers of Ghosts

Centre for Cultural Diversity & Wellbeing, Victoria University

Stefan Schutt & Lisa Cianci

The Keepers of Ghosts project began when 10,000 records from a former sign-painting company were rescued from a demolition site in Melbourne’s west. Beginning with the creation of an online archive, the project has since developed into an experimental research program of community outreach involving sign writers, shopkeepers, local history aficionados and people interested in ‘ghost signs’, or the remains of painted advertising signs. Here we discuss the project’s investigation of the use of digital media to informally document and share otherwise-forgotten aspects of urban memory, and the proposition that the interplay between digital and physical archival activities can be harnessed to involve and connect diverse groups with shared interests, both at local and global levels.

Lewis & Skinner Archive:

Paper in Archives & Manuscripts Journal by Lisa Cianci & Stefan Schutt: 

Keepers of Ghosts: old signs, new media and the age of archival fluxArchives & Manuscripts, March 2014


 The painting & removal of the Lewis & Skinner mural 2013/2014

Keepers of Ghosts project – the painting and removal of the Lewis and Skinner mural from stefan schutt on Vimeo.


Paper by Stefan Schutt, Marsha Berry & Lisa Cianci:

Lost Melbourne: A Digital Ethnography of a Facebook Local History GroupGlobal Ethnographic, May 2014

Places and historical artefacts are being reimagined through social media on a daily and routine basis. Using an approach drawn from digital ethnography we analyse a 24-hour snapshot of the ‘Lost Melbourne’ Facebook community from an insider’s perspective. Lost Melbourne generates new perspectives on local history on a daily basis in its recombinant and messy assemblage of content, directed by its administrators and created by both administrators and members. Its content consists largely of digitised photographs and old films taken from personal collections as well as other online archives. In this essay, we explore the implications of these new archives and associated emergent amateur memory practices. Our research suggests that Lost Melbourne might best be seen as an example of ‘network sociality’ (Wittel, 2001), involving people motivated largely by a yearning for connection and continuity.