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Museum Object as Document

A concise explanation of the useful concept of Document (as in Buckland, Briet) to understand the museum object.

Kiersten F. Latham

on 23 September 2010

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Transcript of Museum Object as Document

Museum Object as Document Michael Buckland:
the concept of document as
a central unifying force between LAM Antelope 4 conditions evidence
4) There is a phenomenological position: the object is perceived to be a document.
It is the use of this semiotic concept, indice, that makes a document a document (Buckland, 1998; Day, 2001).
Indice: (translated as indexicality)—the quality of having been placed into an organized, meaningful relationship with other evidence.
In other words, the document is present as evidence. The very reason the museum collects objects is because they are evidential and provide information that is to be used for a future purpose.
Documentation is concerned with access to evidence, not texts. Documentalists use the term “document” to denote any physical information resource or any expression (representation) of human thought (Buckland, 1998) rather than limiting it to specific text-bearing media (Buckland, 1991b). “any concrete or symbolic indexical sign [indice], preserved or recorded toward the ends of representing, of reconstituting, or of proving a physical or intellectual phenomenon” (Briet, 2006, p.10). material, intentional, processed, and phenomenological ...for example, an antelope of a new kind has been encountered in Africa by an explorer who has succeeded in capturing an individual that is then brought back to Europe for our Botanical Garden...A press release makes the event known by newspaper, by radio, and by newsreels. The discovery becomes the topic of an announcement at the Academy of Science. A professor of the Museum discusses it in his courses. The living animal is placed in a cage and cataloged...Once it is dead, it will be stuffed and preserved (in the Museum). It is loaned to an Exposition. It is played on a soundtrack at a cinema. Its voice is recorded on a disk. The first monograph serves to establish part of a treatise with places, then a special encyclopedia...then a general encyclopedia. The works are cataloged in a library, after having been announced at publication...The documents are recopied (drawings, watercolors, paintings, statues, photos, films, microfilms), then selected, analyzed, described, translated...The cataloged antelope is an initial document and the other documents are secondary or derived (Briet, 2006: 10).
Experience Transaction John Dewey--A transaction, simply put, sees together—in a system–that which has conventionally been seen apart in separation, including knowing people and the world they know (Palmer, 2004). Person-Object Transaction-- deep connections, meaningful encounters, a person may have with a physical object John Dewey--that which refers to the undivided continuous transaction between human beings and their environment. direct experience— an immediate and continuous act, holistic -occasionally there are segments of this experience that are heightened, marked by a sense of wholeness, unity and fulfillment (Jackson, 1998); active engagement a psychic activity, or communicative sign process, where meaning is gained only in the context of the transaction itself—in other words, the elements of the transaction are not actually independent of each other (Csikszentmihalyi & Rochberg-Halton, 1981). It is not static
involves both the past and the future, and is always historically situated.
It includes not only thought, but also feeling, doing, perceiving, suffering and other aspects of living in the world. It is not just what registers on our consciousness as we make our way through the world but includes the objects and events that compose that world.
The objects and events are as much a part of experience as we are ourselves.
When we are fully immersed in experience, its components so interpenetrate one another that we lose all sense of separation between self, object, and event.
what does it mean to experience a museum object? Background:
On The LAM phenomenologcial position materiality
2) There is intentionality: it is intended that the object be treated as evidence. processed "any signifying thing" Suzanne Briet, Documentalist 1) There is materiality
3) The objects have to be processed: they have to be made into documents. physical, a thing Briet: organized physical evidence (physical forms of information) (any expression of human thought) (any material basis used for extending our knowledge
which is available for study or comparison) (embodied thought) AN experience Experience, in other words, is transactional.
Star in Sky No
Photo of Star Yes
Animal in Wild No
Animal in Zoo Yes Object Document?
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