donderdag 23 juni 2011

Het verhaal van een fotoalbum


This album, which surfaced recently in New York, shows the Eastern Front and Bavaria.
Tony Cenicola/The New York Times
Eergisteren verscheen op het "fotografie-blog" van de New York Times een bericht over een mysterieus album met foto's uit de Tweede Wereldoorlog. In "de pers" ging de meeste aandacht hierbij uit naar de snelheid waarmee de lezers van het weblog de identiteit van de tot dan toe onbekende fotograaf hebben achterhaald.
Vanuit archief-oogpunt is dat interessant, want dit toont aan dat je op die manier met een beetje geluk en verstandig gebruik van weblog, social media en een krant (onderschat niet dat het hier om de New York Times gaat) delen van je collectie kunt interpreteren.
Wat ik echter nog interessanter vindt, is het onderstaande citaat van professor Taylor:
Professor Taylor called attention to the fact that the pictures were printed on two different types of paper: Agfa Brovira and Leonar. He invited us to consider the possibility that the pictures were culled from a number of sources, not just the PK photographer’s own work; that the album may have been compiled and pasted up by his companion or someone else with little interest in faithful narrative cohesion or chronological order.
Beware of inference, in other words. Professor Taylor has learned this lesson from dealing with other personal photo albums. “We think we can get so close to these people, but we can’t,” Professor Taylor said. “They are not the same people we are. We come up with assumptions — and the material always undermines what we think.”
En L'Archivista voegt daar een digitale equivalent aan toe:
And if you believe that the digital age will be devoid of archival mystery, let me assure you that, thanks to missing and incorrect metadata, corrupted files, ill-advised migrations and conversions, murky transfers of custody, and a host of other problems, we are on the cusp of a most mysterious age. Earlier today, I was looking through a series of born-digital photographs in an effort to find exhibit-worthy images and started scrutinizing their internal timestamps, which are visible only when the images are displayed at 10 times their original size and which aren't included in the metadata that accompanied these images. I quickly realized that when sorted by file name, these images, which were taken seconds apart and run through a variety of systems before they were transferred to my repository, are actually in reverse chronological order -- something that escaped me when I initially processed these files several years ago. This isn't the first digital mystery I've encountered, and it most certainly won't be the last.
Soms moet je twee keer kijken om te zien wat er echt staat...

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