Captivity and Construction

Here’s a video of a male Superb Lyrebird at the Adelaide Zoo.

The zoo had been doing construction and the bird, a natural mimic, began mimicking the sounds of construction including:  hammer, chainsaw, jack hammer, human voices, lawnmowers. He also mimics the calls of other birds in nearby cages.

A zoo is an archive. This bird is an object in a collection. It’s proximity to other objects in the archive have changed it indelibly. It is not what it was in the wild. It is a product of the archive.

Can the same be said of objects in a museum, books in a library? Does collection, and proximity to other collected objects, change the object? Is the book I buy and make part of my personal collection different in substance or affect from the books in a public library? Is the lithograph on my living room wall (part of a collection, however modest, certainly) different from a lithograph in a gallery or museum?

Does the archive change its contents?


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