Krzysztof Pątek Criteria of Appraisal of the Audio-Visual Materials



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substantial - allowing appraisal of form and content in terms of their historical relevance (their importance for history, politics, economy and culture), and technical - including quality of image and sound, condition of an information carrier: photographic paper, tape, vinyl record, film tape or video tape. The substantial criteria should be considered as the more important and materials accepted for the sake of their form and content shall not be disposed of even if their technical condition is not good.

In appraising historical value, particular attention should be paid to documents concerning facts, events, processes and phenomena in their different aspects and manifestations, as well as to their authenticity, uniqueness and representational qualities for the issues which are documented by them. In terms of historical criteria materials to be deemed archival are, among others - speeches and other statements recorded with the use of audio visual methods, made by statesmen, political and social activists, prominent representatives of cultural and scientific life, sportsmen, etc. which are significant for political, economic, social, scientific and cultural life of the country, its regions and different professional circles.

Along the traditional methods of archival documentation appraisal, which take into account researching the background, aim of a document, its content, time and place of realization, we should also consider values which may be perceived by hearing and sight and which result from the audio visual form of the materials. These include the following:

a) reaction of audience presented in image and sound in the case of manifestations, rallies, meetings expressed in the form of particular gestures, ovation, shouts, spontaneous singing, whistles, or no reaction whatsoever,

b) emotional factors accompanying speeches, showing speakers' engagement in the issue they are talking about, present in gestures, pitch and timbre of voice, its rhythm, fluent or discontinuous flow of speech illustrating - apart from arguments used - a way of convincing by a properly used gesture or a word articulated in a pregnant manner,

c) image and sound elements characterizing speakers' background - education, language, clothes, etc. which are especially important in accounts and reminiscences concerning various events,

d) so-called "phonic gesture" expressed in individual, linguistic and phonetic features of speakers, such as: voice colour and pitch, pace, manner of stressing, repeating certain words or phrases - elements enriching a "portray" of a given person,

e) sound and music interpreting values - of literary and music works, theatrical plays - resulting from competencies of actors, performers and musicians; the name of the author or performer may be helpful in appraisal here (Julian Tuwim, Konstanty I. Gałczyńksi, Ludwik Solski, Helena Modrzejewska, Artur Rubinstein)9,

f) image and sound elements which constitute an instrument of scientific research in the fields of history and related science, linguistics, ethnography, etc. These are elements of regional dress, dialects and regional varieties of the language (melody), etc.

g) elements resulting from directness (no time distance) of an event, account, phenomenon, etc.

h) external and internal looks of historic buildings, significant public buildings presenting interesting architectural, technical, etc. solutions,

i) dress and clothes reflecting fashion trends,

j) technical means of expression, or interpreting features of sound and image montage, applying a concrete photographic or sound convention of artistic value (special effects, tricks, unconventional or innovatory form of realization),

k) physical condition of a document constituting a representative example of a specific manner of recording information, or a particular example reflecting technological advancement,

l) unique or exceptional technical manner of recording information on an audio visual carrier.

Appraisal of audio visual materials meant for permanent storage is an immensely difficult task. As we see, appraisal criteria are different and multiple. That is why it is not enough to look at each of them separately. While appraising materials we should use a set of well developed criteria which encompass elements concerning form and content of a recording, circumstances in which it was created and its aim. We should also consider an array of values resulting from applying audio visual techniques.

Selected issues concerning selection and appraisal of photographs, sound records and films presented above lead us to say that audio visual documentation (no matter the technique) has to be critically appraised both in a manner typical of traditional sources of information, and it should be additionally analysed in terms of values resulting from its audio visual form. Considering those elements - not mentioned in written sources - provides a researcher with additional possibilities of a more objective and closer to reality judgement about facts, events, people and drawing well-grounded conclusions in the researched area.





1 Helena Karczowa - Problemy krytyki i wykorzystania materiałów fonograficznych (Critical study and using phonographic materials) [in] Pamiętnik X Powszechnego Zjazdu Historyków Polskich w Lublinie (Memoirs of the 10th Universal Convention of Polish Historians in Lublin). Warsaw 1969.

2 The Polish institution which deals with audio visual documents is Archive of Audio Visual Records established in 1955. This is a central institution set up with the aim to collect, elaborate, provide access to and preserve phonographic, sound and film materials constituting a part of state archival funds.

3 Jan Boniecki - Fototeka Archiwum Dokumentacji Mechanicznej w Warszawie (Photographic library of Archive of Audio Visual Records in Warsaw). Warsaw 2005.

4 as above

5 H. Karczowa - Rozwój form kancelaryjnych i współczesne rodzaje dokumentów archiwalnych. Dokumentacja wizualna i audialna (fotografie, nagrania i filmy) (Development of office forms and modern types of archival documents. Audio visual documentation (photographs, records and films)). Toruń 1979.

6 AAVR - Record No. T 1020

7 Helena Karczowa - Critical study and using...

8 Jan Boniecki - Katalog fotografii z Archiwum Dokumentacji Mechanicznej i innych archiwów państwowych (Catalogue of photographs from Archive of Audio Visual Records and other state archives). Warsaw-Łódź 1989.

9 AAVR records include an interesting collection of voices of Polish poets and writers reciting their own poetry or reading fragments of their books. There is also a similar collection of voices of prominent Polish scientists speaking about their professional work and achievements, as well as hobbies, tastes, views, etc.



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