I have recently been reading Walter Benjamin's Arcades Project and found his writings on the Collector highly evocative, particularly when we consider the fetish character of the commodity and how this relates to our modern life. There is also a sense of intrigue found in the confusion struck by the collector due to the scattering of objects which are found in the world and the collectors desire to bestow order upon them. The following are a few brief excerpts from The Collector that I felt could perhaps be the beginning pieces of a project, after all "Collecting is a primal phenomenon of study: the student collects knowledge"
What is decisive in collecting is that the object is detached from all its original functions in order to enter into the closest conceivable relation to things of the same kind. This relation is the diametric opposite of any utility, and falls into the peculiar category of completeness. What is this "completeness"? It is a grand attempt to overcome the wholly irrational character of the object's mere presence at the hand through its integration into a new, expressly devised historical system: the collection.
The true method of making things present is to represent them in our space (not to represent ourselves in their space).
insofar as it entails the liberation of things from the drudgery of being useful, represents the consummation of the collector - deduced from Marx: "Private property has made us so stupid and inert that an object is ours only when we have it, when it exists as capital for us, or when...we use it."
Further to these thoughts what if one was to consider the city (I would consider Newcastle) as the collector. Through this analysis the city transfers its built environment into a history of wealth, assets and greed, for the city seeks to acquire new development whilst at the same time neglecting those that already stand and remain empty, falling into a state of disrepute.
|William Heath Robisnon|
|Peter Menzels Material World A Global Family Portrait Russia 1993|