ABSTRACT

Despite a climate in which we know that the found document can be simulated, manipulated, and “misused” (see Chapter 2), viewers nonetheless continue to seek “authenticity” through found documents, and one site regarded as particularly “authentic” is that of home movies. These seemingly “innocent” images, often of family life, hold out the promise of an “uncorrupted” view of the past. Indeed, home movies, home videos, and snapshots have generally been aligned with the “private” and the “found” rather than with the “public” and the “archival,” which endows them with an added aura of unmediated “truth.” At the same time, however, such audiovisual documents are now being ever more frequently regarded as “proper” to history and treated as such. While in the past what theorist Richard Chalfen refers to as “home mode” documents – snapshots, home movies and, later, home videos – were rarely collected in official archives, they are now being reevaluated in terms of the history of everyday life.1 In fact, archivists are actively seeking to preserve these kinds of documents, many of which are in danger of being lost to material corrosion or digital decay.2