Kracauer’s short essay on one of UFA’s studios is part of The Object Reader, edited by Fiona Candlin and Raiford Guins. The Object Reader gathers together a collection of essays on objects and the discourse that has surrounded the study of objects since the beginning of the 20th century. Divided into seven parts, this collection of essays encompasses theories on objects from the difference between object and thing; the agency and experience of objects; to objects that have been left aside, being discarded or non-functional. The book’s collection of essays springs from diverse fields of disciplinary research, ranging from anthropology, art history, film studies, to cultural studies, comprising of both classical debates and contemporary analyses of specific objects.
The Object Reader, however, lacks certain important aspects of the afterlife of objects. The book solely concentrates on objects that become pieces of rubbish once they are no longer used. Julian Stallabrass’s essay, for example, on ‘Trash’, looks at the deadness of objects once left aside on a street corner, and how their deterioration creates another life for the objects. Objects, though, live on in many different ways after their original use. Some objects live on in museums, a kind of preserving grave for an obsolete object so that future generations may be able to see it, know of its once useful existence. Old and obsolete objects are also sold in antique shops. With the growing trend of vintage shops, an essay on this aspect of dead objects being brought back to life, given a second life as it were, is missing in the section entitled ‘Leftovers’, although somewhat alluded to in Lindsay’s essay on TRS-80 computers.
Through its diversity in discourse around objects, The Object Reader suggests the personal histories that surround each object. Every object has its own diverse stories connected to it: its creation, its affective relation to an individual, a person’s experience of it, its demise and obsolescence. While the piles of objects in the UFA studio may suggest ‘empty nothingness’, being mere illusions, the careful re/constructions of these objects by the film industries imply how important these objects are in life. Just as objects create the semblance of a real historical place in films, objects are what constitute our corporeal realm.