Cabinets of Curiosities
 
The framework for this project is existing scholarly discourses on the origins and legacies of collecting, from Baroque ideas of ‘pansemioticism’ and the ‘polyhistor’ through to the modern museum and beyond – including the physical collections and intellectual ideas developed by Ole Worm, Carl Linnaeus, André Malraux, Isabella Gardner and others. Taking firsthand archival work as my departure point, my contribution to such debates is three-fold, comprising a series of contemporary ‘cabinets of curiosities’ or wunderkammer, a body of linked graphic works and an accompanying selection of essays. Acknowledging key historical reference points such as the furniture, etchings and books that make up Albertus Seba’s cabinet of natural curiosities, the objects, texts and drawings I generate pose questions about the ways we imagine and order the world. Playful and enigmatic in nature, the project sets out to examine through a synthesis of humanities- and practice-based research methodologies the roles of personal style, taste and private invention in the structuring and delineation of knowledge.
 
Over the next few years I will conduct exploratory field trips, turning to various disciplinary-specific traditions of ‘fieldwork’ – for example in archaeology, anthropology and forensics – to inform my itineraries and actions. Using a mixture of techniques for documentation (measured drawing, writing, photography, film making), I will progressively collect objects (driftwood, stones, rubbish, tourist souvenirs, knick-knacks, mementos) and impressions (images, sounds) that testify to my personal experiences and memories of particular moments and places. Returning to the studio, my resulting collection of ‘curiosities’ from the field will be imaginatively and eclectically curated. Meticulously explored, examined and catalogued through a variety of analytical and experimental drawing techniques, my ‘post-fieldwork’ analysis of my findings will generate graphic works in a range of media and scales. Individual objects and groupings of objects will then go on to inform and be physically incorporated into the eventual design and working mechanisms of the ‘cabinets’ that house them.
ART+DESIGN TEACHING RESEARCH IN PROGRESS 01 02 jérémie michael mcgowan art+design : teaching : research About Home CV Work © 2011