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Only Collect: ‘Benjamin’s “Unpacking My Library: A Talk about Book Collecting” may explain the architect’s obsessions with books, but in the post-print era, what do we hoard?’. Mimi Zeiger in Domus on the state of the contemporary collector and the outlet for their obsession. Collecting has evolved: ‘But given the spate of books, exhibitions, Tumblrs, and websites that document and compile material appearing within the discipline and beyond, I suggest that the archive itself has become not a mode of collection, but the thing in itself to be collected.’


There’s an emerging consensus about what digital collections mean; i.e., it’s much more than simply assembling a set of objects. Increasingly, it appears to be about presentation, a form of composition. In many respects this presentation seems no different from the assemblages of objects that characterised the Victorian treasure houses and private museums, where typologies and materials trumped more complex data like location, function and date. It also feels related to Benjamin’s statement about possession of the thing: ‘For inside him there are spirits, or at least little genii, which have seen to it that for a collector – and I mean a real collector, a collector as he ought to be – ownership is the most intimate relationship that one can have to objects’.

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