Thursday, September 23, 2010

Object of My Affection

Check out this fun piece by our own John Petit. John's film was part of a First Person Arts project titled "Object of My Affection" and it randomly partnered filmmakers with people and their objects. The goal was to create 5 minute documentaries about them within 5 days of meeting. John teamed up with a photographer whose important object was his hard drives of digital photos.

Wolfsonian Fellowship

The Wolfsonian–Florida International University is a museum and research center that promotes the examination of modern visual and material culture. The Wolfsonian’s fellowship program is intended to support research on the museum’s collection, generally for periods of three to four weeks. The program is open to holders of master’s or doctoral degrees, Ph.D. candidates, and others who have a significant record of professional achievement in relevant fields.

The focus of the Wolfsonian collection is on North American and European decorative arts, propaganda, architecture, and industrial and graphic design from the period 1885–1945. The United States, Great Britain, Germany, Italy, and the Netherlands are the countries most extensively represented. There are also smaller but significant collections of materials from a number of other countries, including Austria, Czechoslovakia, France, Japan, the former Soviet Union, and Hungary. The collection includes works on paper (including posters, prints, and design drawings), furniture, paintings, sculpture, glass, textiles, ceramics, lighting and other appliances, and many other kinds of objects. The Wolfsonian’s library has approximately 50,000 rare books, periodicals, and ephemeral items.

Applicants are encouraged to discuss their project with the museum staff prior to submission to ensure the relevance of their proposals to The Wolfsonian’s collection. For more information about The Wolfsonian and its collection, visit the website at, call 305-535-2686, or email to Applications for the 2011–12 academic year must be postmarked by December 31, 2010.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

HTML issues

If you are cutting and pasting from MS Word and having trouble posting to your blog, just change the font to Arial. Blogger recognizes much fewer fonts than Word, and does not recognize Times New Roman or Calibri.

When is a Brick More than a Brick?

Monday, September 20, 2010

Dreaming of Dixie

Dr. Karen Cox @ CHAT (Gladfelter 10th Floor), 3:30, to discuss Dreaming of Dixie: How the South Was Created in American Popular Culture (UNC Press, 2011)

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

DYI Exhibit Design

Those of you who are looking ahead to assignment 4 might be interested in this post from Nina Simon's Museum 2.0 blog.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Material Culture at Ground Zero

Over the weekend, National Public Radio's The Picture Show blog featured a photo essay by photographer and National Geographic contributor Ira Block. The essay showcased found objects from Ground Zero: "a necklace, a note, a shoe: personal items that belonged to those who perished." The objects will be part of an exhibit at the National September 11 Memorial & Museum.

The brief interview with Block included on the website suggests that he, a trained archeologist, struggled to extract himself from the powerful emotional stories surrounding each of the objects he photographed. Given our discussion in the last class about the difference between story and history, I was struck by Block's comments.

As for the National September 11 Memorial & Museum: according to the museum website, the exhibit will be composed of photos and text, mementos (objects), and oral remembrances -- all contributed by individuals -- as a means by which "to learn about the men, women, and children who died" on 9/11. Here's a brief description

. . . interactive tables will allow visitors to discover additional information about each person, including additional photographs, remembrances by family and friends, artifacts, and the location of individual names on the Memorial plaza. Rotating selections of personal artifacts will also be featured. An adjoining chamber will present profiles of individual victims in a dignified sequence through photographs, biographical information, and audio recordings.

Sounds like the exhibit will be somewhat similar (at least in form) to the First Person Museum.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Capitalzing on Object Stories

For an interesting meditation on the value and uses of object stories, check out Rob Walker's "The Back Story" in the New York Times Magazine. Good point from which to consider the difference between object stories and object histories.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Assignment 1

Thanks for your patience as we sort out where everyone's object is. I recognize that Assignment 1 will be challenging for those of you who have not had an opportunity to meet your object or, in some cases, may be unsure of what your object looks like or what it is precisely. In all cases, please make your best effort, even if circumstances force you to veer from the assignment prompts. You might, for instance, describe a similar object or perhaps an entire category of objects. Perhaps one of Prown's categories of analysis can help you get started. Or maybe consider how your object reflects Csikszentmihalyi's observations.

No matter how much or little you know about your object, at least introduce what you know of it to your audience and be forthright about your method (e.g. "I haven't seen my object yet, so this is all a guess..."). Posting a picture of your object would also be a good way to introduce it, although the images I've provided are owned by First Person Arts and should not be posted without permission. Please be sure, as the prompt indicates, to describe your object "in the most precise language possible." Because we are speaking with and about objects, we must become comfortable with their language. Manufacturer's websites, user manuals, patent descriptions (, chat group logs, and even eBay can provide invaluable insights into the particularities of our material world. Be creative in how you identify and use sources.

And, of course, be mindful of your audience(s) at all times and write carefully (blogs require just as much proofreading as formal writing).

Please send me a link to your blog as soon as you have created it. I'll build a list on our course blog so that you can review your colleagues' work. I'd encourage you also to become a fan of our page and/or subscribe to its feed so that you'll be aware of announcements.