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Posts Tagged ‘heritage

“What you remember saves you”*…

Observations on obsolescent (or otherwise “over”) objects…

“My mother possessed a superlative ashtray,” writes architecture critic Catherine Slessor. It had a waist-high stand and a chrome-plated bowl, and, she writes, “faintly reeking, it stood to attention in our 1960s suburban living room like some engorged trophy.” Slessor goes on to describe other ashtrays of note: a Limoges porcelain limited-edition ashtray that Salvador Dalí designed for use on Air India, in exchange for a baby elephant that the airline transported for him from Bangalore to Spain; the ashtrays at Quaglino’s in London that reportedly used to disappear at a rate of seven per day in the 1990s, snatched by diners as souvenirs of a society locale. In doing so, she conjures the material world of the twentieth century, inhabited as it was by ashtrays of all shapes and sizes. Then, with the dawn of the millennium, this category of object—part functional décor, part objet d’art—all but disappeared.

Slessor’s short essay on the ashtray appears in the new book Extinct: A Compendium of Obsolete Objects, a collection of illustrated essays on eighty-five objects that, its editors write, “once populated the world and do so no longer.”…

The essays in Extinct often answer two questions: What was it that has disappeared and why? And then, what was the significance of this loss? Some, like Slessor’s, are lucidly personal meditations, stuffed with anecdotes and design history; others are more technical treatises on the reason a particular technology failed to take root. The editors identify six general reasons why things become extinct and categorize each object in this way. Certain objects are deemed “failed”; they simply didn’t work. Many more, though, are “superseded” by more advanced models of similar things. Some dead objects, especially commercial products, are “defunct”—these have failed to gain widespread adoption, or couldn’t be mass-produced, or have simply gone out of style. Others are “aestivated,” meaning that they disappear but are revived in a new form. Still others are classified as “visionary,” in that they never quite came into being at all. The rest are “enforced,” basically regulated into disappearance…

From “Mementos Mori,” an appreciation by Sophie Haigney (@SophieHaigney) of Extinct: A Compendium of Obsolete Objects, in @thebafflermag.

See also “Heritage out of Control: Disturbing Heritage,” by Birgit Meyer, from which:

… waste, is in many respects the Other of heritage. Things that have lost their value, were left to decay or targeted for destruction can be scrutinized for alternative understandings of how past things matter in our global entangled world: as haunting shadows, shady specters, or hidden time bombs, challenging how histories have been written, and the narratives and powers condoned by them.

* W. S. Merwin

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As we deliberate on disappearance, we might recall that it was on this date in 1958, above the waters off Tybee Island near Savannah, Georgia, that an F-86 fighter plane collided with the B-47 bomber carrying a nuclear bomb. To protect the aircrew from a possible detonation in the event of a crash, the bomb was jettisoned. Following several unsuccessful searches, the bomb was presumed lost somewhere in Wassaw Sound off the shores of Tybee Island. It has never been found. (That said, nuclear weapons are, sadly, still with us.)

An Mk 15 nuclear bomb of the type lost when jettisoned after the collision (source)

“Inanimate objects sometimes appear endowed with a strange power of sight. A statue notices”*…

Scan the World is an ambitious initiative that gives you the possibility to enjoy 3D printable representations of cultural artifacts in a remarkably tangible way. The community led project enables everyone with access to the internet to experience material culture in an emotionally impactful manner, one which digital images cannot otherwise offer. The collaborative, living network removes the barriers of geographic location and socioeconomic backgrounds by empowering you to engage, behold, scan or own a copy of 3d printable artifacts that hold significance for you. The collective effort is as much about renowned historical artifacts as it is about household antiques with deep culturally significant roots.

Your contributions work to bridge the gap between technology and the arts. The web of diverse sharers range from educators, scanners, storytellers, artists, makers, historians, art lovers, globe trotters and all passionate individuals, eager to share a piece of their unique culture. Scan the world is about adding dimension to your cultural identity by sharing your views, roots, artifacts and narratives with the world. Providing you with space to deepen your understanding of your personal heritage while giving you the freedom to enrich the otherwise untold story of your ancestors. This initiative was born to put culture back on the map; to connect you to your roots and sense of belonging, and give you a chance to share and strengthen your understanding of yourself. You are the result of the generations that came before you. This network in its truest form is a shared, open access, museum of the future, built by and for you…

Cultural heritage is important for historical research and education as well as establishing a sense of identity amongst communities. Through documenting the past, cultural heritage comes in both physical and intangible forms which include objects, monuments, beliefs, rituals and traditions. 

Scan the World collects stories from people and museums alike, to share various views on the importance and impact of culture, helping diversify our personal approach to art. As different individuals will have very different experiences and values within their own culture, this network provides a safe space for culture to be shared and discovered, no matter where in the world it comes from… 

Access to heritage: Scan the World collects and shares 3-D printable files of cultural artifacts (since it’s inception in 2014, over 17,000, by over 1800 artists/artisans, from over 800 places around the world).

* Victor Hugo

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As we peruse our past, we might spare a thought for someone whose work is in STW– the painter, sculptor, architect, musician, mathematician, engineer, inventor, physicist, chemist, anatomist, botanist, geologist, cartographer, and writer– the archetypical Renaissance Man– Leonardo da Vinci.  Quite possibly the greatest genius of the last Millennium, he died on this date in 1519.

 Self-portrait in red chalk, circa 1512-15 [source]

Named virtues…

The United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization, UNESCO, is charged with administering “the Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage“– a duty they discharge by convening a committee once a year to select from member nations’ nominations those traditions that are needy of conservation.

Consider, for example:

Castells are human towers built by members of amateur groups, usually as part of annual festivities in Catalonian towns and cities… The human towers are formed by castellers standing on the shoulders of one another in a succession of stages (between six and ten). Each level of the tronc, the name given to the second level upwards, generally comprises two to five heavier built men supporting younger, lighter-weight boys or girls. The pom de dalt – the three uppermost levels of the tower – comprises young children. Anyone is welcome to form the pinya, the throng that supports the base of the tower… The knowledge required for raising castells is traditionally passed down from generation to generation within a group, and can only be learned by practice.

 

On consideration, the committee ruled that Castells satisfied the criteria for inscription on the Representative List:

R1: Human towers are recognized by Catalan people as an integral part of their cultural identity, transmitted from generation from generation and providing community members a sense of continuity, social cohesion and solidarity;
R2: Their inscription on the Representative List could promote intangible cultural heritage as a means of reinforcing social cohesion, while encouraging respect for cultural dialogue and human creativity;
R3: The safeguarding measures being implemented and those planned are carefully described, and the commitments of both the State and the communities are well demonstrated, all aiming at ensuring the viability of the element;
R4: The nomination was elaborated through a process of consultation and cooperation with the bearers of the tradition who have provided their free, prior and informed consent;
R5: Human towers are registered in the Inventory of the Ethnological Heritage of Catalonia, maintained and updated by the Department of Culture and Media.

For a peek at 2010’s newly-anointed treasures, announced last week, readers can visit this Foreign Policy roster of “10 Traditions You Never Thought Needed Protecting.”

As we wonder if the castellers are now required to wear blue helmets, we might recall that it was on this date in 1993 that Hollywood’s homage to the Anglo-Saxon tradition of cross-dressing– Mrs. Doubtfire— premiered.

source

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