Monday, 29 September 2014

Unwitting evidence

I got interviewed on Friday for a story in the local newspaper - watch this space!!!!

The experience got me thinking about unwitting evidence. It started off with me stressing over what I should wear and how to do my hair and makeup for the photo - everyday, casual vanity. Then I got thinking about how the photo would look in print - would it be splashed across the front page? A grainy, ink-sploged miniature? More vanity. Then I thought of the bays in the Archive Room where we keep newspapers - hundreds of bound books and giant boxes, covering thousands of editions, from the stalwart Thames Star and the Hauraki Herald to the mildly obscure Coromandel Crier and The Informer, over more than a hundred years. Then, it occured to me that some day, somehow, my photo and story would wind up on those shelves. Permanently. Suddenly, the clothes and the hair were a tad more important.

Anyway, unwitting evidence:

Thanks, Google Image Search!

So, my witting testimony in that photo will be that I work at the archive. Look, I'm archiving. There are folders on shelves. I'm wearing white gloves and everything.

Unwitting evidence, I suppose in this case, would be inferring from my clothes how an average 20-something archives trainee dressed in the early 21st century. Or inferring how well off I am, based on my jewellery. Or drawing some conclusion about the photo being staged, because I'm wearing white gloves while holding a totally non-archival ring-binder. Depends on who's looking. There's so much information packed into a single image, that only becomes apparent with an outsider's perspective.

So anyway, thank goodness it occured to me that your average historian would appreciate that a photo in a newspaper is most likely staged for the purpose, because I was a lot more relaxed about staging my appearance after that!

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