Wednesday, 19 November 2008

The Wallaby Track: why fund digitisation - click me and find out!

Every now and then you come across something that totally inspires you both in it's simplicity, and the power of it's underlying purpose. Taken from Seb Chan's blog, the embed at the bottom from The Powerhouse Museum in Sydney is one such example.

It's only one image - and a digitised one at that, which has then been edited and given a really beautiful sound track. The original analogue image is a glass negative from their Tyrrell collection

It's a priceless moment from the early history of Australia. Being originally a glass plate negative. the detail is extraordinary. However, the empathy in the video animation sequence from Jean-Francois Lanzarone, beautifully draws out each of the faces and so creates the space to bring back to life the character and spirit of each of the men in the picture.

The hidden archives
Just like Australia, here in New Zealand, we have thousands and thousands of these kinds of images sitting in special heritage boxes in our national and regional heritage collections. I've seen some/many of them - or at least I've see the boxes, because most of them remain uncatalogued, and in some cases unexamined since the day they were carefully put away.

Many many more will wait for years for the funding to get a proper record online. and only a fraction of them, given current funding, will eventually end up being digitsied and put up on online. A few brave institutional souls might even make them available for peole to use, a la Lessig, as part of their own creative moments.

The Funding Question
All too often getting the funding to even begin that journey will fail because when the funder asks " why should we do this" the answer is too complicated, or too obscure, or too loosely linked to instrumental value statements like 'building national identity'.

Now, courtesy of moments like this one below, although we might end up in those kinds of discussions eventually, in the first instance, when asked - "and why should we do this" all we need to do is hand them the mouse and tell them to 'press play'

Acknowledgement: this image is part of the Powerhouse's contribution to the Flickr Commons [ see here for an explanation] View the original image in the Commons on Flickr.
Or on the Powerhouse Museum’s own website. The detailed story of the image, the photgraher and the collection is here.


Warren Cheetham said...

Thanks for highlighting that video Paul - it's a very interesting project

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