the germ of history’s great alterations


A 24th-century digital archaeologist peers back through the murk of time to the early 21st, seeking, amid the welter of sounds, images, objects, the perfectly emblematic object or personification of that remote and fevered time. Such a symbol, she assumes, must be an image or an artefact, for no one except antiquarians could imagine that ancient screeds of print could have anything to say about the epoch now known as DigiOne. She pauses for a moment in her memory archive, arrested by names with a cultic ring to them, presumably typical of archaic cyber-time: Gaga, Kaka, Banksy, Bono? But then up through the ether shimmies a dazzling apparition, tagged to 2007, a diamond-encrusted skull, fashioned by one D Hirst, entitled “For the Love of God” and, apparently, exhibited in a White Cube. Noticing that shortly after it was given to the world, the financial citadels of capitalism crumbled in panic, she writes a memo to self: “Poss blogothesis? ‘Diamond, Cube, Sphere: Solid Forms in the Age of Meltdown?’” For it can’t be fortuitous that the skull, with its mega-carat cranial studs, was produced at the tipping point of what historians came to call the Great Derivative Delirium?

more from Simon Schama at the FT here.