Documentation and Observations on:

On the Scaffolding of Collecting


Do you see a raised eyebrow in the python egg above?     Does it make any difference if I do and you do too?     Probably not much difference considering the scale and scope of the installation or documentation but some observations are worth noting here so a larger thought process can emerge. These image links (along with dozens of others they lead to) are part of my field notes. There is also a moleskin notebook with the tag number data correlations.

The installation title On the Scaffolding of Collecting draws directly from:
On the Origin of Species
Charles Darwin 1859


Collecting and interpreting collections is basic to human life. Other animals collect food and on rare occasions ephemeral objects, but not like we do. Finding order in "stuff" can be more interesting than the basic systems of learned logic. Libraries and data like scientific collections are ordered for the retrieval of systematic information. ~TH
The Voyage of the HMS Beagle
Charles Darwin 1839
OCTOBER 8, 1835.

The lake is quite circular, and is fringed with a border of bright green succulent plants; the almost precipitous walls of the crater are clothed with wood, so that the scene was altogether both picturesque and curious. A few years since the sailors belonging to a sealing-vessel murdered their captain in this quiet spot; and we saw his skull lying among the bushes.

Charles Darwin Voyage of the HMS Beagle 1839
Scaffolding is a flexible skeletal structure from which we physically build and conceptually shape everything we believe, about everything we think we know, about everything. And collecting is a process of selecting everything we consume or preserve.
Please note: the intentional repetition of everything above. The tangible and intangible aspects of every "thing" within this collection I interpret in relationship to every other thing. ~TH
This work and much of what I do evolves from interpreting collecting by collecting, then interpreting the assembled collections, reordering, reassembling, reinterpreting and eventually presenting collections to be interpreted by others. Discovery from the bone-in-the-hand experience of collecting is as significant to me as the interpretation of the accumulated collection. Each element found is a new key to the overall. No element of a coherent collection is totally separate from the others. Add or remove any element and the entire collection changes. So nuances in the individual object can make profound alterations to the interpretation of the collection. ~TH
If, as the ancients supposed, the flat earth was surrounded by an impassable breadth of water, or by deserts heated to an intolerable excess, who would not look at these last boundaries to man's knowledge with deep but ill-defined sensations?

CHARLES DARWIN, Voyage of the Beagle 1839
Being able to put things in order means you can retrieve information better and thus learn more about the world. But the order you choose to use for your classification scheme can also limit what you learn. In the big picture sense, Linnaeus invented an artificial ordering system for plants and animals (artificial in that his system was not built upon the evolutionary history of the organisms, how they were related, but only on their appearance). His system revolutionized biology, enable people to learn much, much more about the world, but ultimately the same system also limited what could be learned. When Darwin came along and proposed a system based on the evolutionary history of organisms (how they were related), we understood much more.

John E. Simmons, 4 Nov 09
Art collections are groups of objects we choose to preserve in a currently rapidly expanding cultural and mass social environment, while Natural History collections contain what little we preserve from a quickly dwindling environment.
~TH
Linked to the image below is a one minute study of late morning sunlight moving across the east-north-east studio window at a fast snail's pace of 7 minutes lapse time.
The animation linked below is a large file so it is slow opening and subtle. Please give it time to "sink in"
The animation linked below is the start of a series of botanical studies
Studies for an installation on Darwin at Wright State University 1 Nov 09 thru 10 Jan 10