Tag Archives: authenticity

The Exhibition Catalogue As Printed Echo

When a museum exhibition ends, all we’re left with are memories.

Well, that and a catalogue.

Museum exhibitions are collaborative projects, culminations of the work of many people with a variety of skills: Continue reading

Cultural Heritage in the Age of 3-D Printing: Rise of the Intangible?

A year ago, I wrote a post about 3-D printing and its impact on cultural heritage in the museum world. Last week, I presented an expanded version of the essay as a paper at the tenth annual Arts in Society conference at Imperial College London.

You can now read the paper on Academia.edu.


Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

Cultural heritage in the age of 3D printing

Egypt’s current Antiquities Minister Mohamed Ibrahim is planning to file a formal complaint with UNESCO, declaring that a replica of the Sphinx built at a recently opened Chinese amusement park “harms Egypt’s cultural heritage.” The life-sized Chinese Sphinx replica was completed in April 2014, but judging by a photo of it, I would be hard pressed to call it an exact replica of the original. It’s close enough, however, to have angered the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities. There appears to be no evidence of the Chinese attempting to pass off their Sphinx as the original, particularly since it sits within an amusement park instead of a pyramid complex, thereby cut off from any of the cultural context that would usually give the Sphinx its meaning.

Or is it? Continue reading

Towards a Poetics of Museum Sound

i. Collections

An urge,
an unheard whisper in the ear,
a yearning for that
complete set,
that rarity that only we –
the privileged, the possessors –
can call our own
and control who sees it or hears it.

ii. Objects

This multitude of things
material or intangible
mute or loquacious
produced by culture
assumed authentic
obtained through
– excavation
– plunder
– exchange
selected by a few
desired by many
seen or unseen
with aural auras
untouchable
yet somehow accessible
if deemed worthy.


iii. Galleries

The display of our wares
our triumphs
our tragedies
icons of history
or forgotten pasts
within discursive configurations
spaces resonating with
meaning
history
passion
mortality
time –
the nexus of echoes
past and present:
the active sounds of history.

iv. Memory

What is it about that
sound
that makes me think of childhood?
Why does this image
transport me back to that thing I read
back when I was a student?
Which story about
my family
deserves to be recorded?
When did they decide
these are the things
that we should remember?

v. Contemplation

This silence
that is not silent
these echoes
these objects
installed and instilled with
their own preciousness
encourage one’s mind to ponder
and wander
across time: backwards and forwards
waves of sound, waves of history
upon which our thoughts might float.

vi. Engagement

We visit these places
not just to learn,
but to teach
not just to see,
but to be seen
not just to listen,
but to be heard.


Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

Film Review: Museum Hours

Museum Hours (2012)
106 minutes
directed by Jem Cohen

Museum Hours, Jem Cohen’s cinematic meditation on life, death, and art has a somewhat unexpected focus: sound. I finally got the chance to see this film almost a year after its initial release, and while I was expecting impressive visual statements (considering the film was shot primarily inside Vienna’s Kunsthistorisches Museum), I was pleasantly surprised by its many fascinating sonic moments as well. Continue reading

Book Review: On The Odd Hours by Eric Liberge

On The Odd Hours coverSince 2005, the Louvre has been co-sponsoring the publication of a series of graphic novels set within the Louvre’s environs. Written and illustrated by multiple authors, these comics are self-contained rather than serialized stories, placing casts of characters inside the Louvre that act out stories asking fundamental questions about art, collection, audience, and museums (there’s a wonderful in-depth overview of the first four volumes in the series over at Comixology written by Columbia University’s Karen Green). Unsurprisingly, the novel that’s impressed me most in this series so far is Eric Liberge’s On The Odd Hours, a fantastical tale involving the power of sound to keep the Louvre’s objects “appeased.” It’s a thought-provoking take on the sonic experience of museums that has, pun intended, continued to resonate with me long after reading it. Continue reading

Mapping the Sounds of Collections: Listening to Museums and Archives

This essay was commissioned by Meri Kytö and originally published in the World Forum for Acoustic Ecology News Quarterly’s Research and Projects column (v.11 n.1, Jan-Mar 2014).

Museums, although thought of as silent spaces, can be surprisingly noisy when listened to attentively. A large portion of my practice as an artist involves listening to museums, where the sonic collisions between present and past create what I have previously referred to as the active sounds of history (Kannenberg 2012, 8). While I am not suggesting we can listen to the past directly by looking at objects, I believe that contemporary sounds in museum spaces are experientially charged and transformed by their physical contact with the tangible cultural heritage of the past. This transformation is in part reliant upon the accepted authenticity of museum objects: Continue reading