SourcesTraditionally, genealogy is the study of families and the tracing of their lineages and history. In critical theory, genealogy may refer to a mode of inquiry tracing the historical trajectory of a particular idea or current of thought, a social phenomenon, a cultural practice, etc. A rigorous genealogical study is essential for any project seeking to recover the legacy of participative or collaborative approaches to image production developed in the past, and may also throw light on the context or motivation of similar present day projects. Re-examining past debates, and the challenges and obstacles faced by alternative cultural practices in other historical periods, may give our own projects today a more solid foundation.
Genealogies of practice
- The Mnemosyne Atlas (1924-1929)
The Mnemosyne Atlas is an unfinished assemblage consisting of 2000 figurative images arranged in 60 wooden plates. Each plate displays a montage of photographs, reproductions from books, and visual materials from daily life. The images range from works of art from the Renaissance and antiquity (artworks, playing cards, archaeological finds, etc) to newspapers and stamps from the 20th Century. The Atlas is regarded as a visual document of the western imagination through the ages, revealing political violence through clusters of images throughout history. In his own words, Warburg sought to create “an atlas of images which, through a serial arrangement, would document antiquity-related expressive values, originally intended to represent the motions of internal and external life. The atlas will also serve as the basis for the development of a new theory of the function of human visual memory”.