The importance of the unique

I was listening to the BBC World Service yesterday and an article on the Boston Calling programme made me think about the importance of items that are completely unique. 

The programme talked about how a Japanese photography company are travelling to areas affected by the 2011 tsunami. The company are voluntarily taking photographs of families who lost everything. The really important part is that they are using an instant film camera. After the picture is taken, they hand it over, and leave with nothing. The programme mentions how the people feel that many people have come and taken pictures of the devastation, leaving the them in the same position as before. This way they are given back something that noone else has. There are no copies, it is the true archival record in the traditional sense.

Having recently spent half a week talking about digital preservation, where storing copies of material in multiple places makes sure it will still be accessible in the future, it was interesting to think about the importance of documentation to the individual, and how the truly unique still holds such weight.

Photographs as objects are very important to me. If my house was burning down and I could save one thing, I think it would probably be the small box of photographs I have, rather than my laptop which contains thousands. How about you?

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