An Object’s Crusade for Immortality

I visited the new ‘Dundee Preserves’ exhibition with Sharron, a member of the ‘McManus Creative Team’ and a group of visitors from a Broughty Ferry residential home. The new exhibition offers visitors insight into what the museum does with its objects.

 

Group photo
Lorrette Lorente, Sharron Phin, Pat Wood and Marget Poustie stand with the Atlantic Walrus

 

We walked around the ordered displays and we gained a better understanding of how curators and conservators care for; research, store, document and conserve the City’s collections.[1] In the crusade of immortalising objects on the battlefield of time, the ‘McManus’ understands its mission and recognises its enemy as the ‘Agents of Deterioration’.[2]

Fire

Light

Pests

Water

Neglect

Physical Force

Incorrect Humidity

Theft and Vandalism

Chemical Deterioration

Incorrect Temperatures

 Unexpectedly, we found the exhibition displayed “Moths from the Robertson Collection”, presenting the body parts of a slain enemy! The humble clothes moth ‘Tineola bisselliella’ is considered a pesky foe in the museums world.[3] The display highlighted how this historic collection holds import information about genetic profiling of the specimens, their environment as well as the underling motivation and attitude of its collector, Dr A Robertson.’

 

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 The Death’s-head hawkmoth on dispaly in the “Moths from the Robertson Collection”

 

“It is regarded not as the creation of a benevolent being, but the device of evil spirits—spirits enemies to man—conceived and fabricated in the dark, and the very shining of its eyes is thought to represent the fiery element whence it is supposed to have proceeded. Flying into their apartments in the evening at times it extinguishes the light; foretelling war, pestilence, hunger, death to man and beast.” Moses Harris (Entomologist 1840) [4]

Its perfectly reasonable for the McManus Museum to protect their objects from destruction. Understanding why and how an artefact deteriorates gives the museum a fighting chance in the crusade for an object’s immortality.

 

 

[1] Uknown Author. (2017). Dundee Preserves. Available: http://www.mcmanus.co.uk/exhibitions/dundee-preserves. Last accessed 25th June 2017.

[2] Arenstein, R.P. (2011). The Ten Agents of Deterioration. Available: http://www.conservation-wiki.com/wiki/Ten_Agents_of_Deterioration. Last accessed 25th June 2017.

[3] Uknown Author. (2007). The Clothes Moth – Museums’ No.1 Insect Pest. Available: https://museum.wales/articles/2007-04-05/The-Clothes-Moth—Museums-No1-Insect-Pest/. Last accessed 25th June 2017.

[4] McCarthy, E. (2014). 12 Facts About the Death’s-Head Hawkmoth. Available: http://mentalfloss.com/article/57940/12-facts-about-deaths-head-hawkmoth. Last accessed 25th June 2017.

Museum Stories In-between

“It would be a mistake to think that an “object” as other simply seizes us, making us passive while it is actively dominating.”[1]

clockOver the past few weeks I’ve joined a variety of activities at the McManus Galleries, attended by groups of senior citizens from Dundee. While wandering around the displays, I have had the pleasure of listening to their stories. Allowing the memories of the past to be brought to life by objects found in the exhibitions.

I began to think about the relationship we have with these selected objects. Once placed in a display cabinet they become more that a mere object; placed beside ‘other’ chosen objects, each display tells a story, an object is a sign, a copy of itself, removed from the past and framed behind glass. The object transcends into artifact.

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“Although materially, these remain as they were, they become, on the plane of meanings facsimiles of themselves. They announce distance between what they are and what they were through there very function, once placed in the Museum, of representing their own pastness and, thereby, a set of past social relations.”[2]

The visitor who shares their story by observing a museum artifact, reveals their personal experience of an object. Reconnecting the past to present, the artifact to the everyday object, by placing a story in-between.

 

 

[1] Desmond, W (1995). Being and the Between. New York: State University of New York Press. P11.

[2] Bennett, T (1995). The Birth of the Museum. 2nd ed. New York: Routledge. P129.

 

 

 

Feeling In-between

In-between my reasoning and the real,

I hear the discrete and unrepeatable experiences of illumination.[1]

A soundscape in space-time with sweet gestures placed on my imagination.

Memories of old ambiance upon new ambulation.

 

In-between my head and the sonic,

I receive the distance perceived as a separation from over-there.[2]

A fantasy world bound to subjective questionnaires.

Treasuries of old attention upon new intention.

 

In-between myself and the other,

I bridge an audible world where objectivity and subjectivity meet.[3]

A thing heard, not composed carrying the weight of an archived street.[4]

Subjectivity is an old demanding upon new attending.

 

In-between my silence and the absent,

I listen to a formless stream, emanating from a boundless space.

A walk will allow the appropriate sounds to appear in place.

Accessories urging old emotions upon new happenings.

 

In-between my space and the sound,

I see a place as the symbol and the sound as the meaning.[5]

A form of feeling adds something unique to my perception of dreaming.

Histories of old feelings upon new feelings

 

“Leading us in-between the in-betweens…”[6]

 

[1] Casey, E.S. 2002, Representing place: Landscape painting and maps. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. P76

[2] Voegelin, S. 2010, Listening to noise and silence: Towards a philosophy of sound art. New York: Continuum International Publishing Group. P5

[3] “Listening to sound is where objectivity and subjectivity meet: in the experience of our own generative perception we produce the objectivity from our own generative perception we produce the objectivity from our subjective and particular position of listening, which in turn is constituted by the objectivity of the object of a prior movement of hearing, subjective and particular.” Voegelin, S. 2010, Listening to noise and silence: Towards a philosophy of sound art. New York: Continuum International Publishing Group. P14

[4] Voegelin, S. 2010, Listening to noise and silence: Towards a philosophy of sound art. New York: Continuum International Publishing Group. P23

[5] “Thus for the poet in his ecstasy- or perhaps, agony- of the composition the trees are the symbols and the words are the meaning. He concentrates on the trees in order to get the words.” A.N Whitehead 1985. Symbolism: Its Meaning and Effect. New York: Fordham University Press. P12.

[6] Asenjo, F. G 1988, In-between : an essay on categories, Center for Advanced Research in Phenomenology & University Press of America, Washington, D.C P139

The Useless Gate

The useless gate with no point of entry encloses nothing. No longer approving entry or exit to flow. It stands easily in front of its past barricade and absent without its fence, what nonsense.

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Still, my thoughts invade the space with an intensive survey of neglect. Without a barrier, it creates a bewildering pause; I even relax and unwind a little in the freshness of an invisible edge.

The gate still interrupts here and there, now and then. I begin to walk through space without the cliché of place, allowing a moment to contemplate on ever-changing times, tides, and light.

copyright © Olsen 2016

A Place With No Lifetime Guarantee

My intimate explorations of edges persisted and my attention now shifts to the ties of in-between and excess.

“That the excess of space is correlative with the shrinking of the planet”[1]

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The property planet is a paradox of a progressive nation using technology, transport, and communication. I discover a new wasteland and its obvious excess, in pursuit of a new insight as a place of anonymity.

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Hunting for an unlimited ticket to the concrete, I awaken to the call of practical regulations… KEEP OUT! Yet by uncovering a broken privacy, I navigate the delights of familiarity, connecting a place to a ‘no lifetime guarantee’.

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I stand as a mannequin compelled by control and practice dark art of invisibility. Who will defend a places identity as it suffers from spatial anonymity?

copyright © Olsen 2016

[1] Augé, M (2008). Non-places: Introduction to an Anthropology of Supermodernity. 2nd ed. London: Verso. p25.