“All museums must be prepared for war,” states director Alexander Sokurov during his ongoing narration of his latest film, Francofonia, a meditation on European cultural heritage and conflict via the Louvre. Continue reading
Since 2005, the Louvre has been co-sponsoring the publication of a series of graphic novels set within the Louvre’s environs. Written and illustrated by multiple authors, these comics are self-contained rather than serialized stories, placing casts of characters inside the Louvre that act out stories asking fundamental questions about art, collection, audience, and museums (there’s a wonderful in-depth overview of the first four volumes in the series over at Comixology written by Columbia University’s Karen Green). Unsurprisingly, the novel that’s impressed me most in this series so far is Eric Liberge’s On The Odd Hours, a fantastical tale involving the power of sound to keep the Louvre’s objects “appeased.” It’s a thought-provoking take on the sonic experience of museums that has, pun intended, continued to resonate with me long after reading it. Continue reading
This essay was commissioned by Cheryl Tipp, curator of sound at the British Library. Illustrated with photographs and sound clips, it was originally published 30 August 2013 on the British Library’s Sound and Vision blog. I’m reproducing it here with a few minor edits I should have caught the first time around.
Memory is at the heart of much human activity. Memory drives us to collect, to record, to create documents –”information or evidence that serves as an official record” – that we then spend a lot of time and effort preserving. Some of these documents are strictly personal and kept as family heirlooms. Others end up being judged by someone else as having a broader significance, and end up being preserved in places like museums and libraries in order that they be made accessible to a wider audience. There are countless institutions around the world whose mission statements may not explicitly express it, but which are essentially dedicated to honoring the human desire to remember. Continue reading