The Afterlife of Archival Film

17 Oct

Our archival footage has been turning up in a number of places lately (more to come on that soon), and while it’s cool to see it reused and integrated into new projects, for me it’s also unsettling. There is something about the decontextualized and atomized snippets that are so far removed from the original source material and creator, that even when our repository is credited, I still want to shout out, “That’s the Oregon Country Fair from 1971 from the KEZI TV news collection! That’s Cordially Yours, Corvallis from the Roy Adams Advertising Agency!” It’s not just visual wallpaper that came out of nowhere whose sole purpose is to stir up nostalgia. I know our job is to preserve films, make them accessible, and then set them free for all kinds of uses we really don’t even want to control. I know. But I can’t be the only one who’d like a bibliography with links to the full films, even in something like this:

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