In working towards the establishment of a sound museum, it becomes essential to define what such an institution must collect, as the collection of objects has historically been viewed as essential to the mission of museums (Wittlin 1949, Macdonald 2011). While this notion has been gradually evolving to embrace intangible culture (Conn 2009, Gurian 2006), and work is developing related to the curation of sound in a museum context (Lobley 2015), I feel it is useful in the long term to propose an object-based methodology for sound curation centring around what I refer to as the acoustic object. 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 →
For the better part of a decade, I’ve been recording the sounds inside of museum spaces. While some of these recordings have been published either online or on CDs, an ideal situation would be for the recordings to be put on display in a public place, where people could listen to them, engage with them, discuss them, and hopefully find as much beauty, escapism, and poetry in them as I have. But what type of public space would be the best fit? Continue reading →
I often experience a sensation of temporal simultaneity when visiting museums, a merging of past, present, and future in which my sense of history is seldom linear. Even if the museum’s exhibition designers have organized their collections chronologically, visitors rarely follow their intended path. The actual routes taken by museum visitors often, if not entirely, involve a great number of chance operations in tandem with a curatorial guide who, unavoidably, is only partially in control of the situation. Continue reading →