Curating the evidence

As advised by Chris from the Ashmolean in Oxford, having a ruler to describe the size of an artefact is part of an archivist’s standard process when cataloguing finds. I have made composites of various items and created images of single items as if they were evidence. I have spent some time to try and ensure that the scale is correct – although their depiction is clearly different. The number of items left of him become, seemingly fewer. These objects are a selection of a very few personal possessions of my father after he died some years ago.

The next stage is to sequence the landscapes, artefacts and texts into a ‘tighter edit’ for assignment four. The scales can clearly be seen to be different on these images, but I’m interested to see what, if any reaction, people might have to the scaling – is larger more effective than smaller?



14 thoughts on “Curating the evidence

  1. This forensic approach adds something for me in term of emotional distance. There is a ‘coldness’ to it that I can understand and at the same time, I feel in this ‘coldness’ a way to ‘freeze’ too unsettling feelings. I can tell if it is about distance or ‘distancing’, as if may be, this coldness is a way to avoid fire.

    Do you plan to present it with the Purgatory images? I am very curious about it.

    • Yes, Stephanie, the Purgatory images are connected and will be presented together as well as texts that I am collecting. The ‘coldness’ you feel, similar to Gesa and Catherine’s comments are what I am hoping to describe. There may be many readings regarding the jewellery, but I am connecting them and the texts. My fear is that it will be too didactic, but the next assignment will be a testing ground for the idea.

  2. Don’t have strong feelings between larger or smaller, John, but those with the numbers feel better to me. Consistency will be important, of course. I realise this is a trial of various approaches but, interestingly, the resulting multiplicity is an irritation that you would want to avoid in the final outcome. Again, I know it’s a trial run but, for a finished version, do the scratches on the ruler make it look more authentic – as pure evidence and nothing more – or do they distract from the purity that you might be looking for in a final presentation. The same might be asked of the reflections in some of the surfaces. I’m not making a judgement one way or the other, just flagging up that they were issues that occurred to me as I looked through these.

  3. Visually I prefer the smaller ones – number five (floral cuff links) and seven (the chain) work best for me as I find the larger scales visually distracting. I can see where you are coming from with the factual, forensic approach and it certainly gives the items an emotional distance, they are much more dispassionate laid out like this.

  4. Compositionally, the placement of the ruler works best for me in the chain image: the ruler placed to the bottom right, but that may also have to do with it being the smallest scale of them; being placed on the left-hand side also works well for me, I’m more uncertain about the middle placements with all but the first set of cufflinks. I wonder if the ruler – which I think is a fitting addition) needs the same position/ starting point throughout – at the moment it seems arbitrary and I have the sense that that introduces a different emotion to the distance/ coldness… as if it reveals an impatience, a demonstrative not-caring (which may reveal its opposite) or similar… The edge/ starting point of the ruler is somewhat uneven… I think that heightens the sense of the impatience/ improvisation… (feel free to completely disregard, John!).

  5. Dear Gesa, Carol, Stephanie, Catherine and Stan, many thanks for your thoughts – most appreciated. What I think I have decided is that the ruler is a distraction, maybe – as Gesa says – the chain image works best perhaps because there is less information, the ruler is there but doesn’t impose (less text). My thoughts are that I may decide not to have the ruler in the piece at all – or maybe a single image of a ruler devoid of any artefacts. The objects themselves will be printed small – perhaps ‘life-size’; this will provide two layers – I hope – the first being that the life hasn’t been remembered very well, hopefully not in a judgemental way? And secondly the scale, as compared to the landscapes, will create a tension, even if the landscape prints are still small in physical dimension – I’m thinking of A5 – the scope of ahem they portray will (hopefully) be ‘larger’.

    If any of that makes sense……

    • It does make sense. I was just thinking about the ruler/scale at the point your response pinged into my email. Thinking about measurement and the difficulty of measuring emotion (or lack of it) and its impact on a life.

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