Monday, 14 December 2009

Mythological Objects

What constitutes an object? Owain Rhys,a distance learner on the MA programme, and Curator of Contemporary Life at St Fagan's Museum in Cardiff presented a redefinition of DVD content as an object. 'Dynamic Music and Myth' re-presents the concept of the object as something intangible, emotional and sensory as well as material. All cultural expression, then, can be considered an object: contemporary collecting methods, progressing technology and changing topics of collection all contribute to a re-evaluation of what constitutes 'material culture'.

Given this, can we ever come to a full definition of what 'material culture' is. Perhaps not, and perhaps that is as it should be. Our world, increasingly virtual, ever-changing and fast-moving, cannot be inhabited purely by 'tangible objects' alone. These physical objects retain an importance, but they are not to be considered the only form of evidence available to us. Those forms of evidence are never, he claims, unmediated. The recording of evidence is a creative interpretive act in itself: reading it as objective truth is, as I said in a previous post, a fallacy.

DVDs contain complex elements - sound and vision, but they also contain features which illicit memories of senses that perhaps they are less performative of. DVDs are one form (or one collection of forms) of embodiment and in this way they do link to the physical, traditionally material world. The internet, often considered very much a virtual medium, also retains these elements of sensory engagement. It's interesting to speculate upon the implications of this.

Poor Owain was constantly saying sorry for his use of theory - I really don't think that he needed to! Even at 5pm on a Monday afternoon, he managed to keep people engaged and kudos to him for that! Plus, he let us watch his video!

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