Item Details

The Junk Drawer Project: Field Photography and the Construction of Assemblage

Issue: Vol 4 No. 2 (2017) Forum: Beyond Art/Archaeology

Journal: Journal of Contemporary Archaeology

Subject Areas: Archaeology

DOI: 10.1558/jca.32421


In “The Junk Drawer Project”, I rely on assemblage photographs I created at a Caribbean archaeological site and in contemporary American homes, to interrogate how aesthetic mediation enters archaeological interpretations through such methodological practices as field photography, and how the visual media produced for field analyses themselves become sites upon which the archaeological imagination is constituted. By presenting the outcome of the Junk Drawer Project as a photo essay, I aim to offer a critical engagement with artifact photography based in the deliberate and attentive application to contemporary contexts of methodological practices developed for the study of the eighteenth and nineteenth century, in order to reveal the tensions between the sensorial properties of artifacts, the specific bearings of my technical training as an archaeologist, and the field of possible interpretations afforded by evidentiary regimes within which my work typically unfolds. Through the application of this methodology to my own scholarship and in-field practice, I also explore how archaeology’s unique contribution to our understanding of human experience in the context of transdisciplinary scholarship might contribute to a critical engagement with the “creative turn” in the humanities and social sciences. I argue that the practice of assemblage photography throws into relief how the tensions between archaeological scholarship, fieldwork and representation shape not only the constitution of “assemblages” into meaningfully discrete bundles of evidence, but also the very recording process through which traces of the past are made visible, and through which archaeologists are made visible to each-other and themselves as practitioners.

Author: Genevieve Godbout

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