This may be a bit intuitive, but there is an ancient tradition for
writing about the ephemeral embodied in the literature of Zen. One
lovely example of this is also an example of what was once new media
curating, ca. 627-650 AD. The wanderer and poet Han-Shan scribbled
his poems on rocks, monastery walls, and fragments of bamboo. After
Han-Shan disappeared, the poems and fragments were collected by Lu
Ch'iu-Yin, governor of T'ai Prefecture had them collected. Lu's
preface to the collection (Snyder 1965: 39-42) is a wonderful example
of writing about the ephemeral.
My own experience in the challenges of writing about the ephemeral
often focus on descriptions of events, of how to use event scores, or
describing issues around events and event scores.
A book that a colleague and I are developing on film brings forward
an interesting issue. We observe that many authors writing on film
treat film as an ephemeral experience. It's clear they have seen a
film only once, taking rough notes at best. Many of the comments on
film are at odds with the action, the dialogue, the images, or the
characters in the movie. The coming of video and now DVD makes it
possible to review (re-view) the film carefully, and this brings to
film inquiry a quality of archival research along with the on-going
sense of ephemeral presence in time.
From a slightly different angle, I addressed some of these ideas in
an article on behavioral artifacts (Friedman 2006). This includes the
challenge of describing the embedded layers of behavior in physical
space -- or the vanished behaviors that shape culture (cf. Barth
2003: 40). This is a classic challenge in ethnography, anthropology,
and ritual studies.
Thanks for this interesting topic.
Barth, Karl. 2003 (1956). Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Eugene, Oregon:
Wipf and Stock Publishers. (Zurich: Theologicher Verlag Zurich.)
Friedman, Ken. 2006. "Behavioral Artifacts." Artifact, vol. 1, no. 1, 35-39.
Snyder, Gary. 1965. Riprap & Cold Mountain Poems. San Francisco: Four
Seasons Foundation, distributed by City Lights Books.
Dean, Swinburne Design
Swinburne University of Technology