Thursday, April 03, 2008

Do you see what I see?


What do you see in this image?

When I opened the State Library of NSW journal atmitchell, (Vol 4, No. 1, March 2008) this morning, I saw crocheted mittens first. Then I wondered who had made him the mittens and did she know how filthy they were?

I was looking at the picture through the eyes of a crafter and one who is well acquainted with the knitted and crocheted form. To me, the picture is of a bloke holding a penguin with mittened hands, and those mittens look like home-crafted crochet to me.

Someone else looking at the picture would describe it differently. A geologist might see the rocks as the primary subject of the photo, the man’s partner might see it as a portrait of his/her lover, an ornithologist might think it a very fine photo of a particular type of penguin, someone else would see the parka and it’s metal snaps and hood. A hairdresser might see the style of “do” and the recent beardage.

Because indexing images is part of what I do, and so I could justify researching and writing a blog post on work time, I thought I’d take a look at how the Mitchell Library described the image.

Wow, they describe it as “1930. J.F. Ivanec, geologist, with a rock-hopper penguin” and no where in the catalogue record is there a reference to the mittens, their style etc. So apart from finding out that my latest crush visited the Antarctic in 1930 and is most likely dead now (another doomed relationship *sigh*), the person who described the image didn’t think the clothing or hair was important or know anything about the rocks behind.

As I will point out when using this in a training session, someone interested in the history, design and use of hand-crafts, and crochet in particular, would not find this image in a search of the database. What other evidence are we missing out on because we see what we know and don’t describe what is there?

However, I don't think I need to explain that when this popped into view on Ravelry last night, I did NOT see a banana cosy.





13 comments:

Agnes said...

My reaction was completely adolescent ... I couldn't stop laughing! LOL!

The Shopping Sherpa said...

It's a good thing I no longer call myself a Librarian as I probably wouldn't have mentioned the mittens when indexing either...

Oh well, maybe I could go work at Mitchell Library if I get sick of shuffling between 2 jobs ;-)

Marg B said...

One size fits all bananas?

I've obviously been crafting too long - all I noticed was the mittens and the cute guy - didn't even see the penguin!

Beth Bynnag said...

My friend Adam recently suggested that the sock I was knitting was actually a willy warmer. I'm so sending him the link to this post.

TinkingBell said...

Am I weird? I thought it was a crocheted sea cucumber!! Truly!

Mmm - it was only after I saw your comments that I had an adolescent snortle!

With a Q said...

Bea, do you mind it I refer my class to your post? We are currently discussing just this thing - that and Dublin core and meta data - so it is very timely?

I share your thoughts on the banana cosy!

2paw said...

Banana, Apple AND pear cosies!!! What fabulous crocheted mittens. You are right, it is all about perception!!

kms said...

no, no penguins for me. or bananas either. as a historian who relied on that particular institution a lot lately, it doesnt surprise me that the mittens missed being indexed and is proof yet again of the white-male-scientific rationality bias of most western research facilities. ooops, sorry, i think some 'bitter and twisted' slipped out there. i wish you had been my librarian.

Jejune said...

*snort* heh - you are an evil genius, you know that, don't you?

But yes, very true about perceptions, training, and different points of view! I experience similar things all the time with graphic design, and noticing fonts that no-one else seems to think look different from each other...

Kate said...

Cna you cross reference the photo against 'hunk" as well? My, they made 'em tasy back then : )

Five Ferns Fibreholic said...

Is it a bad thing to want to meet the man who fits that thing?

Donna Lee said...

I noticed the very nice looking man before I noticed the mittens. Hmmm, guess where my mind is? Too bad he's an old man by now. I did see an article where women were making sweaters for penguins who had been injured by an oil spill and were freezing because the natural oils got washed off when they cleaned the spilled oil off. They would be an interesting item to catalogue.

Petunia said...

Wonderful post, on just soooo many levels.