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Photo: © Erkki Huhtamo

The Logic of Scollecting

Audiovisual heritage can be collected in many ways. Some collectors focus on a single object category like the magic lantern. Others are interested in optical toys. Yet others collect paper documents like broadsides and handbills, and so on. Private collectors put their collections together for different reasons and in different ways than institutions. In this lecture I will discuss my own collecting practice, which I call scollecting (from “scholarly” + “collecting”). Even since my collection began taking shape over 30 years ago, it has been intimately associated with my scholarly work on the field of media archaeology, which I co-founded in the 1990s. Rather than trying to put together a full series of anything, I focus on representative examples of phenomena that my research tries to illuminate. I have also gathered a large amount of original documents, both to preserve them and to use them as source material in my research. Last but not least, I collect original devices, because believe that tangible access to media machines of the past is essential for understanding their principles and the roles they played in different times and places. I will illustrate my talk with numerous items from my collection.


Professor Erkki Huhtamo, Ph.D.,  is Professor of Design Media Arts, and Film, Television, and Digital Media at UCLA. He has lectured worldwide, curated numerous exhibitions, directed television programs, and published texts in 11 languages. His most important book to date is Illusions in Motion: Media Archaeology of the Moving Panorama and Related Spectacles(The MIT Press, 2013). Fairy Engine: Media Archaeology as Topos Study is forthcoming from The MIT Press.