Go back to article: A symposium on histories of use and tacit skills

Tim Boon: Conclusions

Many other examples of the application of practical investigative research to understanding past practice might have been brought forward for consideration here, and the selection here simply reflects the work of investigators who were able to attend our conference. To give one further example, the work of John Ellis’s ADAPT team researching the history of televisual technique is highly suggestive. In that project, it has been possible to reveal and record the techniques that technicians used in major areas of television-making, including interview setups and outside broadcasts. The availability of both technicians with experience of older techniques and of historical equipment has been essential to the success of the project (Ellis, 2015). This example, like the majority of Roger Kneebone’s work achieves a more haptically-rich account of past practice than is available from conventional written sources. In placing the emphasis on what can be experienced, Peter Heering’s case study shows how practical investigations can enlarge our felt understanding of what happened in the past, at the same time as we re-join historical artefacts with their pre-museum use histories. Yves Winkin suggests that there are intellectual traditions that hold the potential not only to understand, but to interrogate, the phenomena we are seeking to understand and to record. Klaus Staubermann’s argument takes us from questions of evidence to potentials for public engagement in what we discover. In toto, as Heering comments: ‘practical experiences benefit from these insights, and the insights benefit from the practical experiences.’

Component DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.15180/170808/006