My PhD undertaken at the Australian National University in Canberra was titled Cultural Mulch, an investigation into collectors who create collections of mass-produced objects and of the potential signifcance of those objects in relation to consumer culture. Collecting is an activity that stems from humankind’s roots as hunters and gathers, when necessity rather than want, was key. This dissertation considers the strategies and motivations behind collecting in the 21st Century and what the significance is of collected objects. It considers the many guises, aims and reasons for collections being made, from the attainment of wealth and status, to the filling of personal voids, or the simple pleasures of belonging to a like-minded group of people.
The dissertation charts contemporary influences in collecting behaviour, from an increased interest in celebrity, the push by corporations to market mass-produced collectibles, alternative consumer trends, and what effect the internet has had on the availability of a vast array of objects globally and locally. Back grounded by a diminishing of the earth’s resources and the production of objects at a peak, it considers the notion of futility.