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date: 24 May 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This illustrated essay presents a series of photographic images documenting the contents of an abandoned cobbler’s workshop in Cornwall, UK. A reflection on the process of encountering and documenting this place accompanies the photographs, and problematizes the impulse to conduct ‘salvage archaeology’ through means of visual representation. The process of photographic mediation is traced through four distinct stages: invitation, intercession, intrusion, and invention. The essay draws on the work of Walter Benjamin and Michael Taussig to explore how the act of representation can be seen to be implicated in both the destruction and production of an object’s aura, particularly in relation to transient and ephemeral material cultures.

Keywords: photography, representation, salvage archaeology, Walter Benjamin, Michael Taussig, aura

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