As human beings we seem to define ourselves by the objects we create, buy, sell, collect and pass down from generation to generation. Ants and birds collect materials to build their nests; crows collect shiny objects to hoard; but few other creatures express themselves by collecting inessential things as we do.
Some of us keep objects simply to look at. We are drawn to them. Why? Some may remind us of a special time, or special person, or they might give us pleasure in the way they look or feel. Some appeal because they are familiar, or for the opposite reason – because they seem to us strange or exotic. We have special artefacts for special rituals – such as candlesticks, wedding rings, decorated sticks, masks – which we like to trace back to our (cultural) origins. But we also create and invent new things. We fill our homes with gadgets, like televisions, cell phones, cameras and electronic tablets.
The way we choose things, acquire them, make, display or even hide them, tells the world something about ourselves, and about our cultures.