Objectives and Aims

Inevitably, however, the project has broader theoretical and methodological aims and objectives than this kind of core metadata resource enhancement alone, and these ideas have also influenced some of the ways in which information about the photographs and the digital record of the images have been presented in the website.

Whilst one of the primary objectives has been to make 6000 images of Tibet from 1920-50 from the named collections available as a searchable and multi-layered web resource, this web-resource is intended to demonstrate a number of theoretical and methodological approaches. The website aims to explore the ‘historical potential’ of the images, to encourage new ways of thinking about visual history, to ‘reconstitute’ the collections as fully as possible (i.e.: enable related groups of images to be seen in their various historical relationships with each other, even when they may be spread across a number of different collections), develop comparative tools and ‘routes’ for navigating through the collections, and to explore the content as well as the context and history of image making.

These aims and objectives also relate to various theoretical and methodological approaches to photographs as material objects that have been explored in the Pitt Rivers Museum over a number of years [see Edwards 2004 and Harris 1999, 2003]. This means that photographs and photographic objects are not approached solely through the content of the images seen. What images are made from, the many ways in which they are used and reproduced, the layers of inscription such as photographers captions and markings or reference numbers that are often physically marked on the objects themselves, and so on, are all seen as part of the image, its creation and its history and should be presented in the website. The project could not adopt a representational approach that focused solely upon image content and the website is intended to be more than just an online image library.

Dr Mandy Sadan, Project Manager/Researcher, 2006