An Audiovisual Heritage of Humanity?
One might wonder what Thomas Edison and the Lumière brothers would have thought about it… What is considered to be audiovisual heritage in today’s digital age?
October 27 marked the World Day for Audiovisual Heritage, which pertains to the documentation of the story of mankind. According to the UNESCO website:
“Audiovisual archives tell us stories about people’s lives and cultures from all over the world. They represent a priceless heritage which is an affirmation of our collective memory and a valuable source of knowledge since they reflect the cultural, social, and linguistic diversity of our communities. They help us grow and comprehend the world we all share. Conserving this heritage and ensuring it remains accessible to the public and future generations is a vital goal for all memory institutions as well as the public at large. The UNESCO Archives has launched the project “Digitizing our shared UNESCO history” with this very goal in mind”. UNESCO
130 years have passed since Thomas Edison and his assistant William Kennedy Dickson introduced the Kinetoscope in 1893, the first device for watching movies. Along with this device, Edison and Dickson invented the first motion picture camera, the Kinetographic Camera, for which Edison registered a patent in the USA (No. 589,168) on August 31, 1897.
In an era where wars are filmed live from the helmets of fighters, where artificial intelligence can produce videos in which a person appears to be saying things they never said, and where reality unfolds at a dizzying pace, recorded and distributed in seconds around the world on social media, influencing moods, public opinion, and even political decisions, one must wonder if the inventors could have imagined how their initial invention would evolve.
When we talk about documenting the audiovisual heritage of the world, it is uncertain what the documentation will include, and which aspects of heritage will be preserved.