Principle Of Provenance dan Permasalahannya

Prinsip Asal-Usul (Principle of Provenance) dalam ilmu kearsipan merupakan ciri khusus yang membedakan dengan profesi informasi lainnya khususnya yang mengkaji tentang dokumen, misalnya ilmu perpustakaan. Ciri khusus yang dimaksud di sini meliputi konteks, penggunaan serta makna dokumen. Prinsip asal-usul ini, maksudnya asal-usul arsip dinamis (records), mempunyai tiga makna yang berbeda (Bellardo & Bellardo, 1992). Pertama, secara umum mengacu pada “asal-usul kantor/unit pencipta” arsip dinamis, atau kantor itu sendiri, entitas administrasi, person, famili, perusahaan, tempat arsip-arsip dinamis, personal papers atau manuskrip tersebut berasal. Kedua, mengacu pada koleksi informasi yang berasal dari transfer kepemilikan arsip, dan yang ketiga, mengacu pada ide bahwa koleksi arsip (statis, khususnya) yang berasal dari unit pencipta tertentu tidak boleh dicampur jadi satu dengan unit pencipta lainnya. Dalam hal ini, prinsip asal-usul tersebut sering dinamakan dalam bahasa Perancis respect des fonds. Ada lagi prinsip turunannya, yang secara ketat menerapkan, “Principle of the Sanctity of Original Order,” yang menyatakan bahwa arsip dinamis harus disimpan sesuai dengan aturan/penataan aslinya (Prinsip Aturan Asli).
Principle of Provenance itu sendiri pada awalnya dikembangkan oleh para archives manager Perancis modern dan Prusia pada abad kesembilan belas, baik secara teori maupun praktek. Sebelum diterapkannya prinsip ini, semua arsip statis ditata dan dideskripsikan menurut “principle of pertinence,” dimana arsip-arsip statis ditata menurut subjek tanpa memandang asal-usul dan aturan aslinya (Gränström, 1994). Dengan perkembangan arsip pemerintah di Perancis dan Prusia, di mana volume arsip masuk yang diterima oleh setiap instansi pemerintah semakin menggunung, “principle of pertinence” ini ternyata tidak praktis diterapkan. Selain itu, para sejarawan saat itu, dan bahkan sampai sekarang, mementingkan objektivitas original source material. Mereka berkeinginan untuk membangun apa yang sebenarnya terjadi, sehingga mereka merasa bahwa sumber-sumber tertulis harus dipertahankan dalam aturan aslinya, tidak boleh ditata ulang. Dengan demikian, prinsip ini memenuhi dua standar sekaligus – jauh lebih mudah dan cepat dalam memproses koleksi seandainya tidak diperlukan mencantumkan tajuk subjek pada masing-masing dokumen atau fond; dan yang kedua adalah terpenuhinya standar objektivitas yang disyaratkan oleh sejarawan. Terkait dengan standar historis, Principle of Provenance juga mencakup prosedur-prosedur diplomatika (studi otentisitas dokumen) abad pertengahan, yang berkenaan dengan penentuan dan penilaian arsip-arsip dinamis berdasarkan keotentikan, dan nilai guna kebuktian khususnya kebuktian secara hukum.
Meskipun prinsip ini dianggap objektif dan praktis, Principle of Provenance masih menimbulkan kompleksitas utama, yaitu masalah ciri organik arsip statis (archives) itu sendiri. Peter Horsman telah menulis dua artikel terkait dengan permasalahn ini. Argumennya yang paling mendasar adalah bahwa sumber arsip statis (baik administrasi, person, maupun famili) adalah organisme hidup, yang tumbuh dan berkembang dan jarang ada arsip itu bersifat absolut, tatanan fisik yang dokumen yang statis selama keberadaan dokumen tersebut. Akan tetapi sebaliknya, masih menurut Peter Horsman, koleksi arsip merupakan “ a complicated result of the activities of the creator, political decisions, organizational behavior, record-keeping methods and many other unexpected events” (Horsman, 1994). Daftar inventaris arsip statis, dan alat bantu temu kembali hanyalah suatu snapshot arsip dinamis pada satu waktu yang berbeda, khususnya pada akhir penggunaannya, dan merupakan bukti bahwa dokumen-dokumen yang saling terkait tersebut secara fisik dikumpulkan oleh instansi yang ditentukan (Horsman, 1999). The real power of an archive, as yet underutilized, is the notion of providing context. Context is a more complicated concept than “original order,” however, and in this case is concerned primarily with describing a continuum of relationships and inter-relationships over time and place. Preserving the physical original order of a fonds, which Horsman defines as the internal application of the Principle of Provenance, is merely a logistical artifact; valuable because it is, at least, “an original administrative artifact,” not defined from outside. To comprehend context, Horsman argues that the archivist not only has to describe and define the structure of the fonds in its seris and sub-series, but also to define and describe the relationships between the agency’s characteristics or functions, and the records it has created throughout the range of its existence.
Unlikely though it may be, this idea of providing meaningful contextual information is also a problem being considered by art historians, in a quest to describe of works of art from different cultures in significant and equivalent language. The most recent work is being done by David Summers, in his new tome, Real Spaces: World Art History and the Rise of Western Modernism (Summers, 2003). Although the two fields, archival science and the history of art might, at first glance, seem to have little in common, on the first page of the introduction, Summers states, “However the discipline of the history of art may have changed over the last few decades of theoretical and critical examination, it has continued to be an archival field, concerned with setting its objects in spatial and temporal order, and with relating them to appropriate documents and archaeological evidence.” In trying to develop a new descriptive language for works of art, Summers focuses on the “organic nature” of the work – concentrating on the overarching
theoretical construct of “facture,” which embodies the idea that the object itself carries some record of its having been made. The value of this physical and format-based characteristic is primary and unassailable.1 There is an obvious parallel here with the “organic character of records,” discussed by Schellenberg (1961),
“Records that are the product of organic activity have a value that derives from the way they were produced. Since they were created in consequence of the actions to which they relate, they often contain an unconscious and therefore impartial record of the action. Thus the evidence they contain of the actions they record has a peculiar value. It is the quality of this evidence that is our concern here. Records, however, also have a value for the evidence they contain of the actions that resulted in their production. It is the content of the evidence that is our concern here.”
What Summers calls “facture,” and Schellenberg calls “evidential value,” are related, and I think not explicitly spelled out due to the varying nature of their tasks: Summers is presenting a highly theoretical descriptive language for works of art, and Schellenberg, while concerned with theoretical underpinnings, is primarily interested in providing a real framework within which real, physical organizations (namely archives) can arrange and describe their collections.
How does this relate to image content management systems? While Summers’ framework, such as it is,2 could be expanded to include descriptive languages for “anything that is made,” it was developed first and foremost for cultural, artistic artifacts. He argues that access to and understanding of artifacts will improve if we could provide more complete information on a given artifact’s facture (Winget, 2003) and provenance. Significantly, Summers is using the term “provenance” in an archival sense – he is concerned with documenting the name of the creator as well as the organization or entity for which the artifact was created, that creator or entity’s functions, relationships, and predecessors; and the artifact’s successive spaces and uses throughout the range of its life. The fact that a Renaissance triptych, for example, started out as a functional devotional device, lost that functionality, was collected by a host of individuals for its monetary or artifactual value, let’s say the last individual to collect the triptych was a German Jew, whose collection was perhaps stolen by the Nazis, and now it resides in an American Museum collection – is all noteworthy and interesting information, and, Summers argues rather forcefully, significantly more valuable than simply providing subject access to that image.
Right now, image database managers, after worrying about quality and sustainability issues, seem to be primarily concerned with providing thematic or subject-oriented access to their collections. They are working with the “principle of pertinence,” as it were, and they’re running into the same problems that early-modern archivists had. It takes a very long time to provide robust subject access; it’s not objective, and in worst cases, can hinder retrieval. If they could twist the Principle of Provenance to relate primarily to providing access through description, rather than focusing on its use in arrangement,3 meaningful use of these image collections might rise, and retrieval problems might decline. The people in charge of image content management systems have a unique opportunity to develop a new system based principally on the user – providing facture and provenantial information without the difficulty of keeping a strict hierarchical structure that archives face. What’s more, for artifacts collected by museums at least, most of this information is already available: when acquiring a new work, curators research the artifact’s provenance to ensure that it is authentic and not stolen; conservators keep deliberate records about the format, materials and processes inherent in an artifact, and they furthermore tend to document any changes that happen to the work over time. There are a multitude of administrative attributes that are noted within the course of owning and maintaining culturally significant artifacts. The only problem is that these artifacts aren’t typically considered “important,” and they’re usually in paper form. If they are available digitally, access points are typically not provided (you can’t search on these terms).
Summers’ new framework now gives us the theoretical tools to recognize these attributes’ importance, and the archival profession gives us a practical framework within which to work. Metadata initiatives like the Dublin Core and METS provide specific requirements for collecting information and describing these objects; the CIDOC-CRM provides an ontology that could be used to add semantic meaning (and hence understanding) between disparate attributes within these schemas; and OAIS provides frameworks within which information can be shared across space and disciplines. The pieces are all there. Provenance has proved to be a powerful and uniquely user-centered concept for the archival profession. With the advent of ubiquitous digital technology, which tends to help transfer ideas across traditional professional boundaries, it’s time to expand and translate that notion to other fields for other uses.
Bellardo, L. J., & Bellardo, L. L. (1992). A glossary for archivists, manuscript curators, and records managers. Chicago: Society of American Archivists.
Dearstyne, B. W. (1993). The archival enterprise: Modern archival principles, practices, and management techniques. Chicago, IL: American Library Association.
Gränström, C. (1994). The Janus syndrome. The Principle of Provenance. Stockholm: Swedish National Archives.
Horsman, P. (1994). Taming the elephant: An orthodox approach to the Principle of Provenance. The Principle of Provenance. Stockholm: Swedish National Archives.
Horsman, P. (1999). Dirty Hands: A new perspective on the original order. Archives and Manuscripts, 27(1), 42-53.
Schellenberg, T. R. (1961). Archival principles of arrangement. American Archivist, 24, 11-24.
Summers, D. (2003). Real spaces: World art history and the rise of modernism. New York: Phaidon.
Winget, M. (2003). Metadata for Digital Images: Theory and Practice.

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