Can I pretend that today is Wednesday, please?  If it were, then this post wouldn’t be a day late…and I’ve still have two-and-a-bit days left of Lovely Archive Time to go…

Sigh.  Wordpress says ‘no’, and apparently is going to publish today’s date at the top of this post just to spite me.  Wordpress and I are not on fantastic terms right now after it sent a large chunk of my previous post to the Great Recycle Bin in the sky.

So, yesterday’s news, today (You Heard it Here First).


The very first known pictorial representation of a Wunderkammer, belonging to Ferrante Imperato (published in 1599)

Wednesday was busy, busy, too.  I spent both the morning and the afternoon working with Film and Media MA students (Journalism, Animation, Documentary Filmmaking, Filmmaking, Photography…the list goes on!)  I really enjoyed teaching a group of creative individuals that spanned such a wide variety of disciplines, as everyone could bring something different to group discussions.

I began the morning’s session with a second talk about Wunderkammern (Cabinets of Curiosity).  I find the history of Wunderkammern fascinating (a history that of course interlinked with Rudolfine Mannerism, Alchemy, the expansion of Renaissance Trade routes, major shifts in the production and classification of knowledge, the carnivalesque…and lots of other interesting areas), and so many of the objects that were originally housed in collections of the 16th and 17th centuries still seem contemporary.  Take Giuseppe Arcimboldo’s Vertumnus, which was painted in 1590-91 for Rudolf II – Holy Roman Emperor and curiosity collector extraordinaire:



I then moved sideways from Wunderkammern (and, specifically, Rudolfine Prague), to Jan Švankmajer, an artist who has created his own extensive Wunderkammer in his house at Horni Stankov (inspired by Rudolf II), as well as numerous pieces that refer directly to alchemy and the transmutation of base matter.

The homunculus in the alchemist's laboratory.  Still from Faust, 1994

The homunculus in the alchemist’s laboratory. Film still from Faust, 1994

As a group we then began to examine the psychology of collecting, and collecting as methodology (both within the work of artists like Švankmajer, and in relation to new media).  So many interesting anecdotes and points of discussion emerged!  The afternoon also included great presentations by Yuwei (on digital culture and collecting), and by Rebekah Taylor (on creative archiving methods, cataloguing, and collecting).

Last, but not least, we finished the day by introducing students to the lovely animation archive itself.  It sounded though it might prove very useful to some students further down the line, so watch this space!

In the evening I screened Švankmajer’s latest feature film, Surviving Life (Theory and Practice) (2010) in The Glasshouse, at the student union.  It was great to see familiar faces from both my BA and MA classes, and was also a bit of a treat to be able to sit in a comfy, worn tub chair to watch the film again on the big screen.

Oh, to have my own home cinema…


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