How the past is represented in the present has always been central to many branches of the humanities. This lecture explores a number of the frameworks within which the past is situated in the present through consideration of particular ‘sites of memory’ with which most of us are reasonably familiar: the monument, the archive, and the database. Rather than addressing the content of these sites, Moriarty explores how we need firstly to understand their structure, for it is through this that control over content, over what we do or do not see, is exercised.
Both art and design history offer ways to look critically at the organising structures that make the past visible in the present. Such insights are especially vital since digital objects and networks accelerate the ways in which information is presented to and extracted from us, as well as requiring us to navigate and arrange content with increasing agility.
What does it mean to curate the past and what does this mean for researchers both within and beyond the university?