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Souvenirs, salvage and storied things : remembering community.

Crang, M. (2013) 'Souvenirs, salvage and storied things : remembering community.', in I am seeing things. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University, pp. 68-77.


What I am talking about comes from a much larger set of projects with a number of collaborators so I will be ventriloquising along the way today. What effect does it have if we take that supply chain and value chain and take it even further, into the after life of things. And I am thinking about the Tales of Things of Electronic Memory. Lets extend the social biographies. Lets look at the movement in and out of the commodity phase. Not just ending as commodities and having use-value, but becoming commodities again then stopping being commodities again and so on. So this is a story that is also about circulation from stocks of objects. Things that we hold idling in our house, our wardrobes and things which are held in hiding by the state that we will come on to and many things that are circulated and how they made to circulate. A large part of the story is about things and about changing things in order to rekindle value. How do you take something which has no value let in it, no worth if you want to put it in those terms, and rekindle that, recreate worth from it? So this is dealing with consumption, not just consumption in terms of using, as context as Irene would says, but also as using up, consuming in that sense, finishing it. So I want to tell some stories about remainder objects; the things which are left over, or actually remainders of objects. What happens when the object themselves have got used up during consumption? And find their story map of object destruction, about actually using things until they have gone, until they have broken. So to continue that cheery theme of death and destruction, I thought I would just illustrate this in a few quotes in terms of things and objects. I will start with Robert Smithson’s take on this. The conceptual artist of the 1960s and 70s in the United States, with his comments: ‘separate forms, objects, shapes are mere convenient fictions. There is only an uncertain disintegrating order that transcends the limits of rational separations.” Now he does not acknowledge it, but basically he lifted that from Henri Bergson, who was summarsied by Bertrand Russell as being about being as flow: “separate things, beginnings and endings are mere convenient fictions: imaginary congealings of the stream” and of course we can take this back further to Heraclitus or Lucretius or if we want back to someone like Gautama Buddha's final words: “It came as if in all composite things, everything ends up breaking, everything ends up being destroyed.”

Item Type:Book chapter
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Status:Not peer-reviewed
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Date accepted:No date available
Date deposited:10 May 2013
Date of first online publication:2013
Date first made open access:No date available

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