General discussion questions
- What do you collect
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
with accumulation, ordering, aggressive retention; like a harem) How
this make you feel?
- What is the
difference between collecting and accumulating?
- What are the
differences between institutional collections and a
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
- 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
- Are there clear boundaries as to what
constitute moving image
- Why might the word archive
not necessarily be apt for all
moving image repositories?
- What are the functions of an
- Is audiovisual archiving a profession? Is
it a subset of a larger profession (like Archiving) or is it totally
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 label
categories for audiovisual archives?
- What are some of the profile
categories ? that govern what a repository collects?
- Can we (or should we) try to save
selection important? Is
the act of collecting sometimes obsessive or fetishistic?
- What are the personal and
institutional ethics associated with this
Benjamin -- Unpacking Library
- Does Benjamin seem
more interested in the content of the books, or in
fact that he possesses them? Is
there a major difference between informational value of a work, and
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
Benjamin's experience with his collection a mass experience or a
- Collections have
their prize pieces
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
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
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
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
- Benjamin also
implies that collecting is more about possessing and
and that objects are not collected for any kind of functional value. He
says that the collector's attitude
towards his possessions
stems from an owner's feeling of responsibility towards his property. And
he says that ownership is the most
intimate relationship that one
can have to objects. Do
you agree? And is that
also true of institutional collections?
- Comment on
Benjamin's statement: Even
though public collections
may be less objectionable socially and more useful academically than
collections, the objects get their due only in the latter.
- Comment on Only in extinction is the
- How is an
institutional collector different from an individual
Belk -- A Brief History of Collecting
- In Hellenist
Greece, art that had previously been confined to fixed
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 the other
contribute to peoples' 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 authentic? 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
as assurances of authenticity) than into producing good imitations. What methods
do we use today to judge authenticity?
collecting as we know it today really began during the
kind of factors gave rise to this?
collections developed in the form of Wunderkammern
(cabinets of curiosity). These
had all types of weird things in them, and seldom followed the
collections that we have today, both in cultural institutions (where
are specialized by form or by discipline) or personal collections
they are usually specialized by a very precise thing, like baseball
any individual collection of that time period, what was the unifying
And how were the objects arranged? Does
arranging objects in certain ways create a new way of looking at
systemsÑhave they always been with us? What
form did they start to take in 15th and 16th
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
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
are mass produced. How has
this affected attitudes towards collecting? What
is authenticity in an age of
mass production? It
has been said that the more common a symbol is, the less powerful it
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
of selection? Is there
a difference between art and bric-a-brac? If someone with authority
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
and a mere collector? Is connoisseurship
a way of attempting to assert class superiority?
- How has
connoisseurship over building a private collection, then
it to a public institution ? how has this been used to overcome
public perception over ill-gotten gains? What factors have made this
successful? What is a patron of the arts?
development is related to what the collection is attempting
to be. How would collection
development policies be different for a collection that tries to
the selector's 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
it's value is only in relation to us. The
object then reflects back our own personal subjectivity, and becomes
part of a system of all the objects that we possess.
contends that we value each item in our collection both
of its own fairly unique attributes, and for it really being
with others. What does
he say are the implications of this?
- What does
Baudrillard have to say about a collection that needs just
more object to make it complete?
- What does
Baudrillard say that an individual gets from his/her
- Baudrillard says
that a collection gets some of its power from the
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
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
the same as viewing it in-situ?)
- Are there ethical considerations in
format conversions (e.g., film
collects what? for whom? and why? How do collections define their
have museums influenced colonialism, nationalism, and taxonomies
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 rhetoric
or poetics of display?
do ethnicities and genders appear--or disappear--in museum contexts?
do museums also function to support a local community memory and
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
do we need museums? What should they look like? What kinds
of museums and collections might we have in the future?
role might electronic media play in the rethinking of the
Would changes in museum practice necessitate changes in the
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
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