Contemporary cabinets of curiosities. Capturing environment and experiences into digital collections.

Thumbnail Image
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
School of Arts, Design and Architecture | Master's thesis
Degree programme
This thesis looks into the phenomenon of capturing environment and experiences into digital collections. Digital collecting can be seen as a cross-section of today’s situation where physical and digital are intertwined and where the fast life pace makes many people capture the current moments to be remembered later. With digital equipment it’s more possible to collect things in various ways and also to describe unseen things such as memories, smells and feelings. Many things that we used to have as concrete, tangible objects have become digital. For example a butterfly collection can be done without taking the lives of butterflies but instead by capturing virtual butterflies or displaying representations of them online. Collecting is a multidimensional activity and there is a fine line between collecting and hoarding, for instance. Collecting has a long tradition and now it has stepped into an era where it gets new forms by using new media possibilities such as digital devices, applications, platforms and social communities. In this thesis I am exploring the individual level collecting done by today’s capturing possibilities, especially turning the physical environment and experiences into digital forms. I am using my own digital photography collections and other cases as examples along with the related literature and a survey I implemented. After realizing that I had collections in the first place, I wanted to know why I had been creating them and what digital collecting was about. That was the starting point for this thesis topic. My research questions are: What is digital collecting about? Why people digitally collect things? According to my research, digitally collecting one’s environment and experiences relates to wide range of phenomena such as self-expression, comprehension and memory. Digital collections reflect collector’s thinking and identity and the contemporary culture. The results suggest that the motives for digitally collecting derive more from the collector’s inner life than from the actual things collected. The findings help to understand better the contemporary collecting and its links to our modern lives and it also offers viewpoints for further research.
Leinonen, Teemu
Thesis advisor
Bauters, Merja
collecting, digital collecting, digital capturing, psychology of collecting, web art, memory, self-expression, digital photography, visual culture
Other note