General discussion questions
What do you collect now?(Howard
collects T-Shirts) What have you collected in the past, and at what
points in your life?
What does Baudrillard have to say about collecting reflecting stages of
life/development? (substitute for lack of physical sexuality; an anal stage
with accumulation, ordering, aggressive retention; like a harem) How does
this make you feel?
What is the difference between collecting and accumulating?
What are the differences between institutional collections and a personal
collections? Are these differences always true?
Why does an individual collect? Why does an institution collect?
Is authenticity important in a collection? What are ways of assuring authenticity?
Are objects in a collection important because of their own attributes,
or because they represent a group or class of objects or ideas?
Are objects collected because of use-value, exchange-value, or something
Are there clear boundaries as to what constitute Òmoving imageÓ
Why might the word ÒarchiveÓ not necessarily be apt for all
moving image repositories?
What are the functions of an audiovisual archive?
Is audiovisual archiving a profession? Is
it a subset of a larger profession (like Archiving) or is it totally independent? What
other professions is it related to? Does
it have its own theories and methodologies? Is
it a discipline?
Should a moving image repository look at a work as informational? Artistic?
Taxonomies of archives:
What are some of the ÒlabelÓ categories for audiovisual archives?
What are some of the ÒprofileÓ
categories ? that govern what a repository collects?
Can we (or should we) try to save everything? Is
selection important? Is
the act of collecting sometimes obsessive or fetishistic?
What are the personal and institutional ethics associated with this field?
Benjamin -- Unpacking Library
Does Benjamin seem more interested in the content of the books, or in the
fact that he possesses them? Is
there a major difference between informational value of a work, and artifactual
value? What does reformatting
do to the artifactual value of a work? Can
a video work have artifactual value? Can
a digital work?
Books are mass produced commodities. Is
BenjaminÕs experience with his collection a mass experience or a
Collections have their Òprize piecesÓ and general pieces. What
would a collection of just one without the other be like?
Benjamin says that the primary relationship a collector has is with collecting
rather than with his/her collection. Do
you think that this is true for collectors? Should
it be true for collection managers?
What do each of you collect? As
Benjamin contends, does looking at any piece in your collection conjure
up memories of how that piece was acquired? How
does this relate to the role of an institutional collector, and what happens
to those memories when the person who acquired it dies?
Benjamin implies that a collection gets its coherence by being a set of
objects that its owner likes for some reason or another. Do
institutional collections ever (or sometimes) get their coherence the same
Benjamin also implies that collecting is more about possessing and owning,
and that objects are not collected for any kind of functional value. He
says that the ÒcollectorÕs attitude towards his possessions
stems from an ownerÕs feeling of responsibility towards his propertyÓ. And
he says that Òownership is the most intimate relationship that one
can have to objectsÓ. Do
you agree? And is that
also true of institutional collections?
Comment on BenjaminÕs statement: ÒEven though public collections
may be less objectionable socially and ore useful academically than private
collections, the objects get their due only in the latter.Ó
Comment on ÒOnly in extinction is the collector comprehended.Ó
How is an institutional collector different from an individual collector?
Belk -- A Brief History of Collecting
In Hellenist Greece, art that had previously been confined to fixed installations
in public spaces (frescos, architecture) became portable (on wood) and
suitable for the home. How
did this change art? How
did this change the popular perception of artists?
During Greek and Roman times, items from foreign locations and cultures
were collected. How did
the notion of Òthe otherÓ contribute to peoplesÕ interests
What kinds of attributes have been important to collectors almost from
Belk says that forgery emerged in ancient Rome, and gives examples like
the display of clothing purported to be worn by Odysseus and selling of
silver cups belonging to Achilles. What
makes an object valuable? Is
it craft/aesthetics, utility, or association? Are
different collecting institutions today particularly interested in one
or another of these types of value? And
what makes an object ÒauthenticÓ? Is
authenticity more important for some types of value than for others?
What methods are used to assert authenticity? Apparently,
during the late Ming Period, forgeries and bootlegs were so common that
only 10% of the paintings owned by collectors were genuine. And
forgers put more effort into producing seals and inscriptions (that served
as assurances of authenticity) than into producing good imitations. What methods
do we use today to judge authenticity?
Individual collecting as we know it today really began during the Renaissance. What
kind of factors gave rise to this?
Personal collections developed in the form of Wunderkammern
(cabinets of curiosity). These
had all types of weird things in them, and seldom followed the specialization
collections that we have today, both in cultural institutions (where they
are specialized by form or by discipline) or personal collections (where
they are usually specialized by a very precise thing, like baseball cards). In
any individual collection of that time period, what was the unifying theme?
And how were the objects arranged? Does
arranging objects in certain ways create a new way of looking at them?
Classification systemsÑhave they always been with us? What
form did they start to take in 15th and 16th century
Europe? As these collections became more specialized in the late 17th
and 18th centuries (ethnographic, art, natural history), how
did that parallel popular views of the world?
Why do we acquire any type of object ?clothes, cars, furniture? Is
it merely utility?
Do collections gain their power from the rarity or uniqueness of the individual
objects? Or from the perceived
cohesion of the collection as a whole? (Think
also of programmed film series, festivals, particular theaters, etc.) Is
Most art museums and many history museums only collect unique objects. With
the advent of mass production, more and more historical and artistic collections
are mass produced. How has
this affected attitudes towards collecting? What
is ÒauthenticityÓ in an age of mass production? It
has been said that the more common a symbol is, the less powerful it becomes. Does
power/value only come from uniqueness? What
about mass produced images or consumer goods? Is
favoring uniqueness and aura and elitist position?
On what basis do we value a collection? How
important is our evaluation of the taste of the person in charge
of selection? Is there
a difference between art and bric-a-brac? If someone with authority suddenly
declares that a piece of bric-a-brac is art, do we believe them? Is
the Prelinger collection something we consider valuable? Was
it always? Do class and
gender play a role in what we consider worthy of collecting?
The notion of Connoisseurship arose during the Enlightenment. What
does a connoisseur bring? What are the differences between a connoisseur
and a mere collector? Is connoisseurship
a way of attempting to assert class superiority?
How has connoisseurship over building a private collection, then donating
it to a public institution ? how has this been used to overcome negative
public perception over ill-gotten gains? What factors have made this less
successful? What is a
Òpatron of the artsÓ?
Collection development is related to what the collection is attempting
to be. How would collection
development policies be different for a collection that tries to reflect
the selectorÕs aesthetic ideas vs. one that tries to be encyclopedic
over a particular taxonomy?
What is the relationship between the rise of collecting and the rise of
consumer culture? But
arenÕt collectors also producers?
Baudrillard -- System of Collecting
Baudrillard says that for objects we possess that have no utilitarian value,
itÕs value is only in relation to us. The
object then reflects back our own personal subjectivity, and becomes only
part of a system of all the objects that we possess.
Baudrillard contends that we value each item in our collection both because
of its own fairly unique attributes, and for it really being substitutable
with others. What does
he say are the implications of this?
What does Baudrillard have to say about a collection that needs just one
more object to make it complete?
What does Baudrillard say that an individual gets from his/her collection
Baudrillard says that a collection gets some of its power from the jealousy
it creates in others. Do
you think that this is true for moving image collections? Are
they as closely guarded as Baudrillard says?
are moving images and sound part of the larger visual culture and ways
of looking and seeing? How does our understanding of visual culture impact
our role in moving image archiving and preservation?
Is there a social context to viewing an object? (is viewing a video at
home the same as viewing a film in a theater? Is viewing a mural on a screen
the same as viewing it in-situ?)
Are there ethical considerations in format conversions (e.g., film colorization,
collects what? for whom? and why? How do collections define their
have museums influenced colonialism, nationalism, and taxonomies (categories)
kinds of interdependence exists between institutions of collecting and
certain methodological goals of art history and anthropology?
can we learn to read exhibits critically? What is a ÔrhetoricÕ
or ÔpoeticsÕ of display?
do ethnicities and genders appear--or disappear--in museum contexts?
do museums also function to support a local community memory and history?
do artists view museums as social institutions?
can we imagine collecting practices and museums in the future?
can the history of collecting be read as an interdisciplinary intellectual
do we need museums? What should they look like? What kinds
of museums and collections might we have in the future? What
role might electronic media play in the rethinking of the museum?
Would changes in museum practice necessitate changes in the disciplines
of art history and anthropology?
How do reformatting and multiple formats of the same work change how we
look at a work? (e.g., are videos the same as films? Are digital photographs
the same as analog photos?)
Who attributes value to a work, and under what circumstances? How does
one deal with the different values that different communities may have
towards any particular set of works?
of evidence and authenticity