Listen up and watch out! Today is World Day for Audiovisual Heritage, a day founded by UNESCO to raise awareness about both the profound richness and unstable nature of our common audio and visual collections. UNESCO's Director-General Irina Bokova writes: "A vector of identity and memory, it [audiovisual heritage] carries the promise of sharing experience and broadening the horizons of everyone. It provides unique insight to humanity’s great cultural and scientific diversity. No other medium bears such vibrant testimony to the world’s rituals, customs and cultural expressions."
True that, however the intrinsic importance of our AV collections isn't powerful enough to save them from neglect and deterioration. Many AV formats--both analog and digital--are also intrinsically unstable: nitrate film, acetate discs, DAT tape, AMPEX 406/40 audio tape, etc., etc., etc.... And even when we find an AV format that is relatively stable and somewhat resistant to deterioration, the peril of format obsolescence descends. What is format obsolescence? When's the last time you tried to buy a Mini-Disc, VHS or laser disc player?
Enough words! Now it's time to tune in and check out a 16mm film and reel-to-reel sound recoding we recently digitized for preservation and access at the UW Libraries Media Center.
Cannibals Once (1931) is an out of print film from the "Ports of Call Series." It's an early sound travelogue presenting the post-missionized "happy natives" of Fiji and an astonishing example of blatant racism (it appears UW is the only WorldCat library to hold this title). The film is from our Educational Media Collection
Long live our audiovisual heritage!