To paraphrase Wikipedia’s definition of a curator, you make decisions regarding what albums to select for your own personal edification. You oversee their potential and documentation, conduct research based on your collection and its history. And, at times, you provide proper packaging for the display and transportation of your collection. And you may also share any research that you have done pertaining to your collection with the public and community through one-on-one discussion with friends and family or via some sort of online forum such as a blog (like this) or in a Facebook group setting like Vinyl Addiction.
You are the link to a physical medium that – despite its popularity now – will eventually go away. Like it or not, digital, cloud-based storage of music is the de facto way people collect their tunes. Many people don’t even store their stuff in the cloud and it may all be on their computer hard drives or on their phones. And those collections will be lost due to digital degradation, hard drive crashes or simply by losing a device.
Be glad of this. You record collectors are a historical link to a dying era.
Let’s say that in the future your curated album collection somehow manages to survive (its chances of survival are probably greater than digital), archeologists will be able to study your collection and get a pretty good understanding of who you were as a person.
That’s why Dennis Hopper’s record collection is important. But the sellers (and I’ll assume its his heirs) don’t realize this just by the mere fact that they’re selling it. Albeit for $150,000.
So who was Dennis Hopper? Anyone of a certain age knows that Hopper was an actor and filmmaker who helped usher in a new way of making and distributing movies when he directed and starred in the 1969 film Easy Rider. Its form and structure were different back then – anti-Hollywood filmmaking and, in a sense, anti-film. Hopper raised his middle finger directly at the studio system establishment. His acting style was driven by personal demons, his characterizations were manifestations of a tumultuous, drug-fueled lifestyle. But, by the time he died in 2010, Hopper was highly regarded as an innovator in the film industry.
You may or may not have known this.
In 10 years, fewer people will know this. And in 50, Hopper may only be known by a select group of film buffs (if those even exist). Eventually he won’t even be a cell in the data spreadsheet of humanity.
If Dennis Hopper’s family wanted future generations to understand Hopper as a person, they would not be selling his record collection. They would be preserving it and storing it. Preferably in an air-tight mausoleum. By releasing it now to the public, there’s a good chance it’ll disappear along with this aspect of the actor’s personality.
Of course, if you look at the collection, you’d realize that many albums in Hopper’s scant collection of 110, are probably already sitting on your own shelf or are easy to find at some used record store for pennies on the dollar.
But that’s not the point. If you’re going to pony up 150 grand on this actor’s collection, here’s hoping you’ll set up some sort of shrine to Hopper. And leave it alone as a part of your curated efforts.
Hang a sign over it that says: “Dennis Hopper’s Record Collection” and invite your friends and family over to discuss how mundane this great actor’s record collection was.
After all, your role as a curator is to share any research that you have done pertaining to your collection with the public and community.
© 2016 Chris Barry