Archive | Good Links

Material globes on material worlds – Google Earth and social change

Toby Wilkinson. Research Scholar, British Institute at Ankara. January 2007.
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Most readers of this blog will have doubtless come across Google Earth (figure 1), the interactive three-dimensional simulated globe, published by Google. If not, it is almost inevitable that you soon will, as its increasing usage amongst academics for showing spatial locations of fieldsites, and concurrent application by news agencies such as CNN and advertising agencies such as for British Airways (see figure 4), means its visual style is in danger of becoming the ubiquitous global image. From the point of view of material culture studies, virtual globes such as Google Earth raises a range of important issues. This includes the significance of the interface’s visual realism and simultaneous appeal to corporeal delight and entertainment; the dominant modality of space employed by users; common patterns of place-image ‘consumption’; the social narratives and biographies constructed using the program; and ultimately the relationship between material culture and social change.…

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Material Connexion

Haidy Geismar, NYU
Material Connexion is a “material library” based in New York, Cologne, Bangkok, and Milan. The Library houses over 3,500 new and innovative materials representing eight categories: polymers, glass, ceramics, carbon-based materials, cement-based materials, metals, natural materials and natural material derivatives. It is a resource for designers, architects, and so on, to touch materials, assess their viability in new projects, learn about new technologies and techniques.
Click here to download an article about the library from Dwell Magazine: Download file (.pdf)
However, these materials are oddly decontextualised in this setting, with its overt focus on technology. For instance, one of the success stories cited on the website MaterialConnexion.com highlights the capability of materials to be redefined through the process of product design.…

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Vik Muniz

Haidy Geismar, NYU
Whilst of course, all art is material culture, Vik Muniz, a Brazilian artist, who I saw in September at Sikkema Jenkins Gallery in Chelsea, New York is one of the few contemporary artists whose work resonates profoundly with material culture studies in its own right, without needing the meditation of critical discourse.
Muniz himself outlines the importance of materiality in his own artist’s manifesto:
“Basically, we artists make art so we can evidence the materialization of an idea, to test it in the material world, only in the end to transform it back into actual visual stimuli, making a connection between ourselves and the world we live in” (Vik Muniz, Reflex: a Vik Muniz Primer, 2005, Aperture Foundation, page 22)

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Material Religion

Barbara Kirschenblatt Gimblett, NYU
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Mitzvah Kinder figurines, right to left: Malkeleh, Moishy, Totty (Father), Mommy, and Baby Chaim. “The ‘Mitzvah Kinder’ has been designed to represent a Yiddishe family in the world of children’s play and imagination. Our charming characters made of soft lightweight rubber, makes them safe, durable and irresistible. So make the ‘Mitzvah Kinder’ part of your family.”
The Working Group on Jews, Media, and Religion at NYU’s Center for Religion and Media is contributing to a special issue of Material Religion dedicated to Jews edited by Jeffrey Shandler and Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett. The articles in this issue examine the role that material culture plays in the intersection of Jews, media, and religion. Our goal in this endeavor is to explore the range of material culture–the designing, production, dissemination, collecting, inventorying, and use of things–as media in Jewish religious life, past and present, broadly defined.…

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The Anthropology of Money – an undergraduate project

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This is a link to undergraduate projects studying the anthropology of money in Southern California, as part of a class in the anthropology of money, taught by Bill Maurer at University of California, Irvine. There are links to student’s research into virtual world communities, feng shui, strip clubs and wishing wells. This is an excellent example of getting undergraduates involved in original research and thinking through the complex and hybrid nature of money in our own cultures as well as those more conventionally studied in anthropology at undergraduate level.
www.anthro.uci.edu/faculty_bios/maurer/AnthroMoney/AnthroMoney

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The Lost Museum

Museums on the web are, in general, rather disappointing. At worst a selection of digital images with directions for how to get to the institution, at their best, they use the potentials of the internet to create new online visitor constituent (see the Brooklyn Museum’s Myspace page for instance, www.myspace.com/brooklynmuseum.
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Possibly one of the best ‘virtual’ museums, The Lost Museum is a digital recreation of P.T Barnum’s American Museum in New York, which burned to the ground in 1865. Visitors are encouraged by the man himself to solve the mystery of the fire. You can explore the museum in three-dimensions with innovative use of image, film and sound, search archival material, maintain personal files on the case, and engage with specific objects.…

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Museum + Anthropology = Blog, and Other Online Phenomena

Haidy Geismar, NYU
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Map showing the location of the last 100 viewers of Materialworldblog, source www.statcounter.com
Alongside this site, there are several recent additions to the Museum/Anthropology blogosphere which are definitely worth checking out (any other good links, please add to the comments below!).
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The bi-annual journal, Museum Anthropology, now has it’s own blog, which will be used increasingly to supplement materials published in the journal. The blog offers a forum in which articles published in the journal can be discussed formally as a form of post-publication peer-review. It will also dynamically post notifications of current exhibitions, symposium, book releases and other relevant material. Scholars interested in the fields of museum studies and material culture studies are urged to submit announcements and other materials of interest to the community.…

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Traumwerk Website

Victor Buchli, Reader in Material Culture, University College London
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The Traumwerk website is a brilliant project started by Mike Shanks and his students at Stanford University that experiments with the boundaries of archaeological work and interpretation and wider questions in material culture. In particular there a number of projects hosted on the site that are of interest to students of material culture in general: These are the archaeology of the contemporary past project, the china garbology initiative with Bill Rathje, and the three rooms project by Mike Shanks. In addition there are numerous experimental projects based on soundscapes and virtual environments which involve archaeoloigsts, artists and other scholars.
The cultures of contact and the Mercedes Benz Daimler initiative are also well worth exploring especially the Mercedes project which brings together, material culture studies, anthropology, archaeology and design together.…

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