Materiality on the Web

Materiality on the Web

Scanning and digitising museum collections and creating web sites that are accessible by the masses is an extraordinary good use of the World Wide Web. There is more to objects and photos than can be captured digitally, this is their materiality. The item's history in its own right, more than just it's image content. A photographs may be a slice of time captured as an image, but from the moment the print is developed it has a life of it's own, passed between friends, glued into an album, sent to printers with reproduction instructions, or annotated with memories of the photographer. All of this information is their materiality, their meaning and describes their use.

Keeping this sense of the material object or photograph that has been scanned and put onto the web is a fine balancing act.

Practical suggestions

Good description when cataloging; are there scratches? small markings? faded edges?

Take multiple angles, scan the backs and fronts of photographs and images, scan whole pages that items are from.

Specific examples of these ideas can be found on the Tibet Album website. Recorded in the database relating to photographic images were, the types of negatives, evidence of copying, places of reproduction and evidence of exchange. The website also gives access to the original "raw" version of the print or scan as well as an optimised version.