Category Archives: Notes

Things: Material Culture Seminar, 4 June 2014

On 4 June 2014, I will speaking at the Things: Material Culture 1500-1900 Seminar at Centre for Research in the Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities at University of Cambridge on the panel 100 Hours? Materiality and Expertise with colleagues from the 100 Hours Project Elizabeth Haines (Geography, Royal Holloway, University of London, and the Science Museum) and Matthew Paskins (History of Science and Technology, University College London). Our overview:

This panel presents the reflections of Liz Haines, Juliette Kristensen, and Mat Paskins, three members of the 100 Hours Project, founded by Kate Smith and Leonie Hannan at University College London. The members of the project have been working with an object from the Museums Collection at UCL since October 2013. We have made repeated visits to our chosen objects, punctuated by discussion sessions with a variety of researchers. As a group we have accumulated ‘one hundred hours’ of looking and thinking. These three papers represent perspectives on our collective interrogation of the methods and meaning of materiality in historical work.

Once, Upon An Object

Written for the exhibition ‘You And That Thing There’ held at the APT Gallery, from  14 February – 3 March 2014.

Let me tell you a thing. Once upon an object, there … No … Let me try again … The object is a foreign country; it does things differently … No. No, no, no … Let’s change tack; let’s work from the outside.

First, send your glance towards those things. There they lie, littering the ground, cast aside but then brought ‘out of chance’, standing bare. Cast your eyes over that pile of evocative objects, and feel the pull of their (attempted) seduction. Now, turn your head to rest your gaze on that abandoned desk, with its top right-hand drawer half-open, offering a glimpse of some rifled-through paraphernalia whose secret magical lives appear to loiter in the half-light. And there, behind you, those one hundred objects, served up and unveiled one after another, as artefacts through which have been built a story of the world.

And yet.

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