Sunday, March 8, 2009

Collecting Things: Lust of the Eye

I am one of those people that is forever picking things up, putting them in my pockets, and forgetting about them. My coats come out in fall and I discover buttons, glass beads, and rocks from some walk I took the year before. My bathroom counter is covered in smooth shell pieces. I have been doing this for years with dozens of mediums and haven't much thought about why until I saw this chair sculpture by Marc Andre Robinson. The minute I saw it I knew what it meant to a collector of things to see one rock, one chair, one string.
Why do we collect the things we do and more importantly, why do we stop and move to something new? One summer I brought in large-ish rocks and covered most of my bathroom floor with them and just as inexplicably moved to sea glass. Right now I'm collecting antique gears... whatever that means.
It also got me thinking of the reasons people collect. Some people collect things thinking they will get a financial return on their collection, like baseball cards. Other collect seashells on beaches they have been to for memories sake. Still others do it for a sort of internal research. Learning about the items as they gather more. Like pressing flowers or perhaps rocks.
One scientist believes it to be a genetic defect as accumulation in history of tools or wealth often lead to a longer life expectancy so therefore, we are predisposed to collecting.
Still others believe it's a need to structure your own identity in some way. Anyway, next time you go to grab that stone that caught your eye, take a minute and think about why you want to collect it.


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