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Contemporary Archaeology

Historians and Archaeologists studied our past by looking at artifacts.  The broken pieces dug up from the soil were linked together to form the story of our ancestors. Imagine it’s 3012 and someone discovers a few unidentified objects that once was part of human’s life. What would they be? Artist Christopher Locke created modern fossils of “actual archaic technology that was once cutting-edge”. The creations include Nintendo controllers, Gameboy, floppy disk, cassette tape, all the icons of the 90s. A special Latin name was given to each of them, for example, floppy disk is called Repondicium antiquipotacium.

Images from Christopher Locke

It’s always funny to look back at the past technology or old creations, seeing from them the evolution of humankind and the mood of that era. Back to 2012, these technological objects that we call them fossils are in fact not that distant from us. But now time is moving so fast that we don’t wait for one or two decades to call our past “past”. Technology progression makes things obsolete within a year. For this reason, we have to start collect items even those objects are contemporaries. German artist Hans-Peter Feldmann collected handbags of six women and showed the contents inside these bag in his first solo presentation held in Serpentine Gallery. Mobile phones, receipts, make up products, money were laid out in traditional museum vitrines. The contents are not surprising, but they are snapshots of the lifestyle of woman at this moment.

© 2012 Jerry Hardman-Jones

Another artist, Song Dong from China, showed 10,000 everyday objects collected by his mother in his Barbican exhibition Waste Not. These objects were collected based on a Chinese traditional mentality of wu jin qi yong (waste not). Items displayed range from small objects like bottle caps and toothpaste tubes to large objects like furniture and even a section of his home. The exhibition shows the artist’s family bond, and tells us intimately their family life.

We are likely to see more and more people capture the mood of our time through different means. It’s not about photographing and making a digital copy of the objects, but archiving the real artifacts for recording our “history” and passing it to the next generation.

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