Capitulating the past


Can we learn to capitulate to the past rather than to capitalise upon it?

This idea stems from my recent musings on the point or use of new media and its relationship to the study of the past.  The starting point is to allow the idea of the past, of archaeology, of ancient materiality, of past people to remain to some extent mysterious. The past is an opportunity to be creative; it provides an intellectual and corporeal creative arena; it fuels the imagination.  Can we embrace the idea that the past does not need to be explained necessarily to be enjoyed, to be appreciated, to be imagined?  The past, not so much as a thing that we can engage with but as a belief.  The past as a belief is a much more open concept than the past as a commodity to be generated and controlled.

We can consider the potential for convergence between explorations of the past (as a belief) and explorations of new media.  New media provide a new form of discovery; the remediation of exploration.  Much as we discover and explore new media, we explore and discover the past and we increasingly employ new media to do this.  Through new (and old) media we are establishing a future for the past.  Following this, we need not overly worry ourselves about the why’s of using new media; acknowledging a convergence between exploring new media and exploring the past provides a foundation for our endeavours.  It is in the doing, the digitaling, the pastxting that the intellect is challenged and channelled.

Media such as wood, stone, clay and metal have been continuosly, and continue to be, explored as modes of expression by people at various times and places.  We as users (and developers) of new media are doing a similar, if not the same, thing.  Herein lies the convergence.  Developing and encouraging a digital habitus may encourage a more open and multisensory academic attitude. Digitaling is good for your scholarly health!

I will continue to explore this notion of convergence, particularly in respect of cultures of sampling -as in sound and (moving) images- and sampling the archaeological record.  Following from this we can explore the relationships between the analogue and digital representations of places, events, people.  We live in an analogue world (including the archaeological record) in its original format that is increasingly sampled and then represented through digital media and then received again by sentient beings in analogue form.


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