The Value of Things explores the evolution of the department store and the public museum as perfect technologies for the sourcing, transportation, accounting, stocking, and exhibition of material things and the people and values that swirl around them. Unfortunately its out of print.
You could browse a hacked photocopy of the preface and introduction, download it from the foot of the page, or read on...
The Value of Things
The speed and stunning profusion of modern material life has deformed the nature of culture. Values are no longer implemented from above -the influence and taste of a few- but ripple and fluctuate through a networked web of images, objects, spaces and media. On an individual and public, national and international scale we are described by an astonishing array of things; a growing mountain of clothes, tools, art, gifts, information, souvenirs, knowledge, electronic technology and rubbish piles-up around us.
This vast accumulation of things, from an ancient egyptian sandals to ‘new’ software exist in a complex mesh of competing narratives which dispute ownership, contest interpretation, disagree on value, and correct and incorrect usage. There is an endless struggle to control, classify and interpret objects, as they are inserted into and spill out of every shelf, cupboard, display-case, shop, home, gallery, museum, magazine, computer monitor and land-fill site.
In hindsight, our previous century unfolded as the endgame of the 19th century.