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Memorizing the Future: Collecting in the 21st Century

Friday, October 05, 2018,
  • Location: Jean and Alexander Heard Library TN

The overarching goal of this conference is to lay the foundation for a “new” theory of collecting in the light of both the most recent and anticipated technological innovations. It aims to facilitate dialogues between scholars from different academic fields, artists, archivists, curators, and IT experts; to reassess our traditional understanding of cultural memory in light of technological advances; to examine how the private and public spheres of collection are merging or diverging, and identify how both collecting institutions and individual collectors are reaching out to their virtual and actual visitors and followers; and to determine the common interests that academia, institutions, and businesses as well as private collectors share in a market of collecting.

With the rise of new technologies, the definition of objects is changing side-by-side with our understanding of collecting. Collectibles are no longer limited to their material shape but also appear on screen, retrieved from source codes and algorithms. The simultaneity of actual and virtual objects is transforming our cultural memory. Concepts of our past and projections of our future increasingly rely on “collections” of data to preserve, protect, and produce memory. Traditionally considered a form of human self-understanding, the social practice of collecting today serves to memorialize culture in ways that exceed the capacities of museums and archives. Indeed, the technological achievements of the past two decades necessitate a redefinition of the concept of collecting as a whole.

Professor Johannes Endres (University of California, Riverside)
Professor Christoph Zeller (Vanderbilt University, Nashville)