Thermocultures of Memory

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Abstract

Memory institutions depend on heating-cooling infrastructures for the long-term preservation and mediation of cultural heritage. The energy-intensive thermal regulation of object and data storage environments is guided by the need to ward off decay and to safeguard computer hardware and operations. Despite the tremendous dependence of memory institutions on thermal regulation, temperature has been regarded as merely metaphorical in media studies (Sterne & Mulvin, 2014; Starosielski, 2014). Digital studies in cultural heritage (Cameron and Kenderdine, 2007) have also bypassed the topic of temperature and humidity as it affects the representation of cultural memory. In fact, there hardly exists any literature on the evolution of thermal cultures of memory institutions even though they might be considered as thermally-dependent media institutions. This article explores how thermal infrastructures are entangled with the preservation of cultural heritage in order to show how the latter is linked to the expanding use of energy and the embodied energy of natural resources. Understanding the energetic and material impacts of thermal infrastructures and practices in museums and archives demands us to ask ourselves: What are the origins of temperature control and humidity in memory institutions? How did the superimposition of the thermal cultures of the factory affect the practices of the museum? In addressing these questions, my goal is not only to direct attention to the materialities of thermal practices but also to provoke an ecological approach for the future of the memory institution. Could a re-evaluation of thermal infrastructures and practices shape an ecological institution?

Details

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-20
Number of pages20
JournalCulture machine
Volume17
Publication statusPublished - 5 May 2019
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

    Research areas

  • museum, infrastructure, thermal, temperature, humidity, energy

ID: 34322719