School of Historical and Philosophical Studies - Research Publications

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    Identification of polymer-based artefacts from the former Wheeler Residence at the Mernda archaeological site in Victoria, Australia: A comparison of attenuated total reflectance and reflectance spectroscopic techniques
    Wong, SSH ; Stuart, B ; Kim, C ; Nel, P (International Council of Museums, 2021)
    The purpose of this investigation was to identify the polymers in artefacts recovered from archaeological excavations at the former Wheeler Residence using attenuated total reflectance Fourier transform infrared and reflectance spectroscopy. The results from both techniques are compared and discussed. Identification will assist with the long-term management and storage of these polymer-based artefacts. Evaluation of these two sampling techniques included whether the physical characteristics and polymer type of the artefacts favoured the use of one technique over the other. The inherent challenges of archaeological artefacts such as cataloguing conventions, awkwardly shaped fragments and soil encrustations complicated the analysis. Of the 270 samples analysed, 67% were identified as containing ten different types of polymers, with the remaining 33% consisting of unidentified polymers, encrusted polymers in which only soil bands or other materials such as glass were identified. Although reflectance achieved better results for certain types of artefacts, it also revealed limitations. The identified polymers are compatible with the proposed occupation of the site from 1852 to the 1970s.
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    Should we clean plastics like we clean paintings? A study in cleaning plasticised poly (vinyl chloride)
    Nel, P ; Morrison, J ; Rowe, S (University of Cambridge Museums, 2023)
    Cleaning plastics poses a significant issue in cultural collections. Highly susceptible to attack from mech- anical, organic and ionic cleaning agents, it can seem impossible to find products that adequately clean plastic materials without causing damage in the process. This paper aims to address these issues. It explores how techniques, knowledge and decision-making processes used in painting conservation can be adapted and used to deliver sophisticated, inexpensive, and accessible strategies for cleaning plastics. Using plasticised polyvinyl chloride as a case study, this paper demonstrates how principles of pH, ion concentration, polarity, chelation, gel-formulations and colloidal interface can be used to arrive at optimal methods for cleaning plastics. Combinations of Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy with attenuated total reflectance (FTIR-ATR), optical microscopy, colourimetry and accelerated ageing were used to determ- ine the effectiveness of and damage levels of the cleaning processes being evaluated. Ultimately it was found that neat solvents, detergents and acidic or basic aqueous solutions should not be used unaltered but should rather be tailored specifically to the needs of the polymeric material being treated.
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    Ontology and knowing: A framework for conserving a rare musical instrument within and beyond the archive
    Tse, N ; Cook, RH ; Kartomi, M ; Chakim, L ; Brigland, J (International Council of Museums, 2023-09-18)
    Conserving cultures other than one’s own and working from the outside provokes questions of authority and the unknown in materials conservation. This paper focuses on identifying knowledge for cultural materials conservation of world culture objects, specifically a rare Indonesian musical instrument known as a bundengan. The study examines the ambiguous tensions surrounding a rare instrument located in an archive geographically isolated from its source community and how it acts as a social trigger to revive living heritage and performance practices, and to build culturally responsible communities of practice in conservation. An ontological framework to expand the knowledge of objects within and outside the archive is presented. The reiterative ontology draws on four disciplinary domains – archives, ethnomusicology, conservation, and performance – to build upon processual knowledge and networks of care, allowing deep connections with contemporary performance communities to emerge.
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    Bones of Contention: Social Acceptance of Digital Cemetery Technologies
    Allison, F ; Nansen, B ; Gibbs, M ; Arnold, M (ASSOC COMPUTING MACHINERY, 2023)
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    Authentication, Attribution and the Art Market: Understanding issues of art attribution in contemporary Indonesia
    O'Donnell, E ; Tse, N (ACAH: The International Academic Forum, 2018)
    The widespread circulation of paintings lacking a secure provenance within the Indonesian art market is an increasingly prevalent issue that questions trust, damages reputations and collective cultural narratives. In the long-term, this may impact on the credibility of artists, their work and the international art market. Under the current Indonesian copyright laws, replicating a painting is not considered a crime of art forgery, rather a crime of autograph forgery, a loophole that has allowed the practice of forgery to grow. Despite widespread claims of problematic paintings appearing in cultural collections over recent years, there has been little scholarly research to map the scope of counterfeit painting circulation within the market. Building on this research gap and the themes of the conference, this paper will provide a current understanding of art fraud in Indonesia based on research undertaken on the Authentication, Attribution and the Art Market in Indonesia: Understanding issues of art attribution in contemporary Indonesia. This research is interdisciplinary in its scope and is grounded in the art historical, socio-political and socio economic context of cultural and artistic production in Indonesia, from the early twentieth century to the contemporary art world of today. By locating the study within a regionally relevant framework, this paper aims to provide a current understanding of issues of authenticity in Indonesia and is a targeted response to the need for a materials evidence based framework for the research, identification and documentation of questionable paintings, their production and circulation in the region.
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    Bundengan: Social media as a space for collaboration in the conservation and revival of an endangered musical instrument
    Cook, R ; Chakim, L ; Abdulloh, S ; Tse, N ; Kartomi, M ; Kurniawan, DF (ISI Press, 2017)
    The widespread use of social media in cultural heritage and conservation projects principally makes use of its capacity for public-facing engagement and the promotion of cultural institutions and events. Its potential as an inclusive, accessible and dynamic research output is less well-established. This paper focuses upon the potential of social media as a complementary form of conservation documentation, in response to the use of interdisciplinary and cross-cultural collaboration between source communities and collecting institutions as a means to preserve both material and intangible cultural heritage. Using the conservation of a rare and endangered musical instrument called bundengan as a case study, this paper will assess the uses of social media platforms in both documenting and enabling collaboration between the source community in Wonosobo, Java, Indonesia, and academic researchers based in Indonesia and Australia.
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    Investigating Vynol: Australia’s first artists’ acrylic and vinyl-acrylic emulsion paints
    Rajkowski, R ; Tse, N ; Nel, P ; Brigland, J (Pulido & Nunes; ICOM Committee for Conservation, 2017)
    Vynol Paints, established in 1964, was the first manufacturer of artists’ acrylic paints in Australia. However, it has received minimal recognition in the art historical, conservation and technical art research fields. It is the aim of this paper to address this research gap by considering its relevance to material knowledge and conservation practice, as part of a broader investigation into the relationship between acrylic paints and the Australian colourfield painting movement. Vynol was found to be used by artists featured in the seminal exhibition, The Field (1968), at the National Gallery of Victoria. This interdisciplinary study presents archive material, interview findings and Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy analysis of Vynol paints, showing connections between the movement’s artists and the manufacturer. It reveals that, during the 1960s, Vynol produced vinyl-acrylic paints – copolymers of polyvinyl acetate (PVAc) and an acrylate monomer, a formulation that was likely used by some of the artists associated with The Field exhibition. Hence, identification of the PVAc/acrylic copolymers using FTIR spectroscopy is explored.
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    Gender system justification predicts decreased blame towards perpetrators of sexual harassment
    Weaving, M ; Fine, C (University of Melbourne, 2020)
    Sexual harassment is a pervasive social problem with serious physical and psychological repercussions. Whilst the #MeToo movement has shone a spotlight on the issue, public reactions to perpetrators remain divided. Building on system justification theory, we argue that this division can be explained by individual differences in the desire to safeguard the gender hierarchy. To investigate this claim, we conducted a correlational study (n = 185) to examine whether gender system justification predicts perceptions of sexual harassment as unintentional and benign, and whether this leads to decreased blame judgements towards perpetrators. Results largely supported our hypotheses: we found that individuals who are high (vs. low) on gender system justification are more likely to view sexual harassment as unintentional and harmless and are less likely to blame perpetrators. Additionally, our analyses revealed that the effect of gender system justification on blame was mediated by differing perceptions of harm, but not intent. These results suggest that the exoneration of perpetrators may be motivated by a desire to maintain the status quo of gender relations, and that this motivation may result in the interpretation of evidence in a manner that favours exculpating perpetrators.
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    Cybernetic Funeral Systems
    Arnold, M ; Gould, H ; Kohn, T ; Nansen, B ; Allison, F ; Love, H ; Adamson, G ; Gopal, TV (IEEE, 2021)
    Using Postphenomenology (one of many methods informed by Wiener's cybernetics) as an analytical approach, this paper examines three examples of robot participation in, and mediation of, funerals. The analysis of robot mediation of funerals challenges the idea that death rituals are exclusively human performances and experiences, and instead repositions them as cybernetic systems of entanglement and impact. The paper begins with an introduction to the relevance of postphenomenological theory, then moves to the case of CARL, a robot that enables remote participation in funeral ceremonies. We argue that the [Human-Robot-Funeral] relation and its variants are both engaging and alienating, through revealing-concealing, magnification-reduction and a more generalised enabling-constraining. Technological mediation is also evident in the case of Pepper, a robot that has officiated at funerals as a Buddhist monk. We describe similarities and differences in the way CARL and Pepper manifest the [Human-Robot-Funeral] relation. The final example is AIBO, a companion robot that becomes the locus of a funeral ritual. This offers a radical case that directly challenges humans' self-proclaimed exceptional ontology.
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    A Post-Colonial Horrea Piperataria
    Webber, M-L (ASCS, 2022)
    Rome’s Horrea Piperataria – or ‘Pepper Warehouse’ – receives little more than a passing mention in our discussions of the Imperial Forum. Given the minimal archaeological and textual record, this is not surprising. Within a century of its Domitianic construction, the horrea had all but burned to the ground. When the Basilica of Maxentius was constructed in the early fourth century, the horrea disappeared from view entirely. It would seem that Rome’s emporium of herbs and spices from across the Empire has little to tell us. But is that the whole story? Recent excavations beneath the Basilica have uncovered new details about the warehouse’s internal space. If we consider the visual literacy of Rome’s population, we can situate the horrea within an architectural typology and begin to uncover its presence within the city. And adopting a post-colonial lens both reconstructs the social experience of this site and interrogates its post-classical scholarly reception. Many locations across the Roman world possess an equally fragmentary record. Yet many also enjoy considerably more attention in the literature than the Horrea Piperataria. This paper will reveal the horrea as a site of multicultural exchange and social identity in a diverse ancient city. In this process, it will also question whether eurocentrism incorrectly shaped – or rather diminished – our view of the Horrea Piperataria as being of minimal importance in the imperial power landscape.