So, as you can see, this NetNarr blog is called The Wunderkammer. You can also see that some of my work for the NetNarr class (like my DDAs and one of my entries into the Digital Art Referencium) has involved the same term and concept.
<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet” data-lang=”en”><p lang=”en” dir=”ltr”><a href=”https://twitter.com/netnarr?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@netnarr</a> <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/dda150?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#dda150</a> <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/netnarr?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#netnarr</a> A raccoon skull (and other goodies) from my wunderkammer. <a href=”https://t.co/9V7MLi9ktw”>pic.twitter.com/9V7MLi9ktw</a></p>— Katherine Marzinsky (@KMarzinsky) <a href=”https://twitter.com/KMarzinsky/status/963217158917455878?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>February 13, 2018</a></blockquote>
The wunderkammer (wonder room), or cabinet of curiosities, is a very important concept to me, and one that the Internet seems to be helping to come back from the dead. The concept has its roots in the Age of Discovery (the beginning of the 15th century through the end of the 18th century), when noblemen often took up the mantle of amateur gentleman scholar to impress other noblemen. They collected and curated objects from the “new” and remote places in the world, and they displayed them in “wonder rooms” or ornate cabinets. These wunderkammern are seen as a unique kind of artistic curation because of the way completely different objects were displayed together without any context. This stands in stark contrast to modern museums (many of which originated from notable wunderkammern) and collections of the Enlightenment Era, which concern themselves with categories and contexts. Wunderkammern were not about dividing the world into logical collections; they were about presenting everything with a sense of universal wonder. Yes, there were problems with this, particularly with the exoticized views of other cultures that wunderkammern perpetuated and the sideshow attitudes they took toward some diseases and deformities; however, the idea of slapping interesting things together in a room or cabinet to remind oneself of the wonder in the world is, I feel, a necessary thing in today’s world, where we often feel like there’s nothing new to discover.
One of the articles I contributed to The Referencium this week discusses the ways that the Internet has enabled a new, digital kind of wunderkammer to emerge in the post-modern world in which we live. I looked into this idea further, and I also discovered ways in which the Internet has helped to revive traditional wunderkammern. On YouTube, owners of wunderkammern can show off their odd and wondrous collections and communicate with other curators; no longer is one required to find other gentlemen scholars to invite into the home. Online shops like The Evolution Store provide places for people to purchase unique items for their wunderkammern; one can place an order and have the weird and extraordinary delivered to their door instead of waiting for the next ship from the New World. In the spirit of the 21st century, one can even purchase a sleek, handheld wunderkammer online.
I know I talked about the wunderkammer in the previous iteration of the NetNarr class, but there’s a lot of new people this time around, so I figured I’d talk about it again (I can never get enough of talking about wunderkammern). The idea of the wunderkammer is also a theme that wove its way into a lot of the work I did this week, so why not?