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What is the life-cycle of an object?
How do objects gain an afterlife?
- "Like us, objects are conceived, designed and created"
- Things gain meaning by playing roles
- Objects acquire biographies (knowing the biography ensures afterlife)
- Object centred (archaeological approach) - how objects shaped society/how society shaped objects)
- Defined by where they are and what people do with them - people confer an afterlife on an object
- Objects function on different levels of sensation, memory, emotion and they link to people
Why is afterlife important?
By studying things and acknowledging their afterlives we enrich our understanding of the past
They aid memory, reflection and understanding (i.e. Shoah)
Name 4 issues concerning afterlife...
Afterlife of religious objects...
They lose their significance in museums, yet gain a new identity
In their new context they carry a different meaning against those who originally observed them
Performative relics - afterlife ensured
Buzz words - PLOTCOP!!
- Post-mortem Narration (for celebrity relics)
- Life cycle (and biography continue in afterlife)
- Object biography
- Touristification (ensures afterlife of an object)
- Conceptualised (through the idea of a biography)
- Objectification (of charisma...to create an on-going link)
- Performativity (religious objects....prolongs longevity)
EXAMPLE of the life cycle of an object
PRODUCTION: manufactured in Greece; different shapes and types of containers with different uses
CONSUMPTION: trading; findspot - most Athenian vases surviving today found in Italy (Etruscan consumers)
- Late 18/19c led to a revival in decorative arts (Wedgewood's Pegasus Vase)
- Early 20c - Oxford scholar, John Beazley classified pots using Morellian method (by artist, finding fingerprint)
- Archaeological - cultural value, insight to ancient life and trading
- Anthropological - painted scenes are representations of life
- Scholars - Pots subject to chemical/physical analysis (mineral composition, techniques of manufacture)
EXAMPLE of performative afterlives:
- Missionary religion so relics 'spread the word'
- Relics not conceptualised as inanimate objects - treated as both dead and alive
- Relics can replicate and multiply (as believed to have happened on Heart Shrine Tour)
- On the tour, the relic history is narrated - in narrating the history, authenticity is confirmed
- Relics put into Stupas for healing
- Narrated and treated as alive so have an active and performative afterlife
EXAMPLE of objectification and post-mortem narration:
- On-going connection to Elvis through pilgrimage
- Commodification cements the afterlife
- Afterlife of charismatic lives is in other people's handsPeople ensure continuation of a relic's on-going status, value and post-mortem function
EXAMPLE of objects acquiring biographies:
- Objects acquire value through afterlife with association with high status individuals
- Trobriand Islanders visit other islands to feast, give gifts, exchange and barter
- Kula valuables traded in a cycle in ritualised exchanges
- Prestige items - cannot be traded for money/goods but gifted; inalienable goods (ownership never given up, objects loaned)
- When gifted, biography is told - shells carry eminence of previous owners
- Shells acquire specific identity through their biographies
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