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July 27, 2014

Rapid Response Collecting at the Victoria and Albert Museum


The latest New Yorker, in its "Talk of the Town" section, introduces us to the just launched Rapid Response Collecting project in the London-based museum's Contemporary Architecture, Design, and Digital Department.

Its stated goal is to demonstrate "how design reflects and defines how we live together today."

According to the New Yorker, "In practical terms, this means that the curators have been given carte blanche to scour the streets — in a global sense — for items of interest and get them into the museum as quickly as possible."

Pictured up top, from the collection: The Liberator 3D-printed gun.

July 27, 2014 at 08:01 PM | Permalink


The message is - extraordinary change at an ever increasing rate. We went from reel-to-reel audio recording tape (yes, that's still around - though the double-wide 2" is worth it's weight in rubies for professional, analog recording studios) to 8-track in about 20 years. 8-track held the market for no more than three years when the compact cassette came on the scene. Cassettes held their place for about 10 years, then the Compact Disk format began supplanting tape and vinyl - for about 10 years and then the furious war over digital audio formats began. Today's recordings... Don't get me started.

What this comes down to is while we can reproduce sound from Edison's wax cylinders today, nearly 100 years after they were made, absent a CURATOR in RAPID RESPONSE mode we might lose some, or all of the intermediate technologies to the junk heap - and, the recordings made by those technologies.

We'd look pretty silly if we had the complete (well, a substantial body of the originals) record of recordings from 1900 - 1966 and then lost everything from '66 to 2030 because we didn't keep an archive of that technology.

If the changes within the consumer audio world of the last 60 years are any indication, every field of endeavor should have its own archive(s).

Does anybody still manufacture ether induction masks? Is there a museum to Big Bang Anestheasia (cyclopropane era)?

Posted by: 6.02*10^23 | Jul 28, 2014 3:31:11 AM

The medium is the message.

Posted by: Marianne | Jul 28, 2014 1:32:00 AM

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