Hello, my name is Stena, a postgraduate in the AGMS programme, currently retained in work placement capacity to Renaissance North West: New Light on Old Bones. My emphasis is in digital curation practices.
During a recent program meeting earlier this week I expressed concern about what would become of the objects at the Rossendale Museum that are due to be removed to storage; would they ever see the light of display again? The response to this inquiry was that there was ‘life in storage’ which seemed to make sense at the time. It has since incurred loss of sleep. What exactly does “–there is life in storage” mean in terms of the life of objects? If the life of an object is defined as going on a semiotic journey from sign through a series of shifts in symbolic interpretation, then it would seem that for an object, life in storage is no life at all; or perhaps symbolic life in stasis.
Certainly, objects are retained for use in research and because they play a vital role in the ongoing narrative of existence. But really, what use are they just sitting in a room somewhere gathering dust? I’m relatively new to the project, but it is my understanding that this question is one of the primary reasons that the New Light on Old Bones project was originally created; to generate avenues for the exploration of the extensive, extraordinary and underutilised natural history collections of Britain.
‘Underutilised’ need not be the case; we have the technology.
I would like to take a moment and indulge your patience, to show images from two of the many previous blog entries in this journal that showcase breathtakingly beautiful and/or interesting objects; all of which are currently ‘sitting on the shelf’ so to speak, except within the confines of this blog:
This then, here, and now, in digital format, is a new stage in the ‘life’ of these objects, and is perhaps one of most practical approaches to overcoming common inhibitory factors of physical display.
In my opinion, yes, digital display does raise Malraux’s questions of the relationship between the authentic and the representational. Yes, nothing will ever replace what it’s like to feel that one is in the presence of the ‘real’ object. Yet with seven billion people on the planet, perhaps a website is as close as some visitors will ever get to being able to get to the museum venue, or participate in dialogue with other visitors and with curatorial staff. The museum of the mind as facilitated by digital media can allow for new interpretations increasing the active and practical use of these brilliant collections.
Well. I’ve said much more than originally intended! I’m very grateful to be a part of the NLOB project and look forward to reading/listening to everyone’s contributions.
Thank you and best wishes,
Postscript/Reminder: Laura has set up a radio press date and release regarding the work that Kaspar and Susanne will be doing with the project. They will be interviewing with the John Gillmore show about the project on BBC Radio Lancs at 3pm on 17 January, this Monday!