Friday, November 7, 2008

Listening to Donald Preziosi

In tracing a history of the museum, Preziosi in a talk in Melbourne last week spoke of museums 'ostensifying their own mediations', and made a useful distinction between human being and its expression. In more recent years – which he mentioned only briefly – the museum's task has become more specifically archival in the sense that it has as a key function the creation of metadata about its objects. The expression of human being, likewise, is no longer exclusively through the ostentation of things (clothes, watches, phones . . .) but our constitution as data. It is striking that this continuation of the trajectory of dematerialisation extends the commodification Preziosi identified in the ironic juxtaposition of shared fascination with the Great Exhibition on the part of both Queen Victoria and karl marx. In our age, the dematerialisation Marx witnessed in commodity fetishism no longer masquerades in 'the fantastical guise of objects' but as pure data. This dematerialisation is then even more powerfully placed to usurp the position of the immaterial.

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