Week 8

In terms of digital presence, I am all for the modernization of museums. I feel that in order for museums to stay relevant and up to date with the times, going the technological route is the way to go.

Of course, the first step would be a website. It would be a great service to the museum and to those interested in it if the museum were to have a website that would provide all the information they need – address, special exhibits, “know before you go” tips. A website would probably be one of the first things potential museum guests would look at before deciding to make the trip there, so this would definitely be something that is well crafted and enticing.

Secondly, social media is now the norm with many teenagers and young adults. This demographic is definitely the type to benefit from the information a museum can provide, so I would definitely expect for a museum to be on social media. This younger crowd definitely is the type to follow trends and visit cool locations, so in creating social media, museums could find that it is an inexpensive form of advertising for itself.

A class that would be extremely interesting to see would be how to do the basics of design. At this time and age, designing (or even just using basic photoshop) is the norm for most people looking for an entry-level position. It would definitely be helpful to learn design basics, typography and possibly photo editing. Although I’m sure there are some videos like this already available, to have all the basics conveniently available would be extremely beneficial.

Lastly, this is the digital story telling piece I would like to share.

It strikes a chord with me because this is a Content Creator that I’ve been following on Youtube and other forms of social media for a long time, primarily for beauty and lifestyle. While naturally, she would drop tidbits about her personal life from time to time, this video was beautiful to see. It was a wonderful and emotionally poignant piece of digital storytelling that makes me empathize with her, as well as educates me.

Week 7: The Infinite Museum

The Infinite Museum is a responsive website that was designed and written for the David Owsley Museum of Art at Ball State University in Indiana. The “responsive website” acts like a native application on a smart phone. Within the application/website is a collection of 1,500 short prompts that will help direct museum guests to a gallery or work of art that would interest them. Once they are paired with a piece, the prompt suggests a specific experience for the guest to have. They are then able to share the experience with others via social media, or they can save the prompt to revisit at another time. In addition, they can also share some ideas for new prompts for the application designers to add into the website.

I had an idea to produce a Web application that would help visitors to art museums experience the art in new and unusual ways: to treat the museum experience as a kind of performance art.

This was an extremely interesting piece of technology that I thought would be very helpful in the museum context. I also really enjoyed the amount of creativity that went into creating and executing the prompts—being able to think of personal and engaging ways to capture the museum audience is a difficult task in itself.

This actually reminded me of the Tate Ball that we had learned about earlier in the quarter. The way that the Tate Ball took different factors into play when generating a piece of art for the user is very similar to the way that this Infinite Museum works. The only difference is that the Infinite Museum has a much more thought-provoking aspect to it. The prompts range from silly and funny to a much more personal context, which is beneficial since it will appeal to users who are each looking for something different in a piece of art.

Check out the Tate Ball here!

Overall, this is definitely something that I’d love to try if I were ever given the opportunity to—the use of technology is innovative, creative and personal. It is so much more than an audio tour and that makes it really engaging to an audience that knows little.


Week 5: The Met and Youtube

This week’s discussed two different museum’s use of new technologies and digital media to expand and enhance their collections. Both museums shared a similar end goal—to excite audiences and extend their reach far beyond their walls. While the Brooklyn Museum ultimately decided not to continue with their efforts, the Met, on the other hand continues to do more social media activations to expand their reach. For example, to work around the setbacks that China’s bans on Twitter and Facebook created, the Met used Weibo to get in contact with Chinese social media users.

The work that the Met put into their social media accounts are incredibly impressive and it easy to see why they would win awards for it. It is interesting how they were able to achieve a strong balance of both education and scholarship, as well as the technology. They found that the general audiences want to see something raw and unrefined—something they won’t see at an exhibit, a “behind-the-scenes” look.

This actually reminded me a lot of Youtube culture, especially the videos of beauty and lifestyle gurus. These Youtube content creators gain popularity because they give their fans a glimpse of their life. For example, Judy Travis, also known as “itsjudytime,” “itsjudyslife,” and “itsmommyslife,” has millions of avid followers for her lifestyle and beauty channel. While she first started off as a beauty blogger, her channel expanded when she expanded her content to include more of her personal life. Recently, her pregnancy blogs and her daily vlogs with her husband, Benji (“ItsJudysLife”) is watched by millions of fans from around the world. It goes to show how much society values organic content that showcases real life rather than cut and polished videos.

Beyond ItsJudysLife, it is just incredible to see the Youtube culture expand and grow in such a way. If random people from Seattle or Kansas or Los Angeles are able to get their big break and have their reach expand to people they’ve never even met before, an institution as prestigious and large as the Met should be hopeful that they can too achieve the same goal.

Here’s a video from ItsJudysLife for reference:

Week 4: Image and Art

At first glance, an entire chapter dedicated solely to cataloging cultural objects seemed a little unnecessary, since the act in itself seemed so much like common sense. However, Baca surprised me with a ton of situations that I had never thought of before. One of which stuck out to me was the distinction between an image and a work of art. I had never realized that there was such a distinction between the two until he provided the example with the Eiffel Tower:

The photograph La Tour Eiffel by the well-known French photographer Brassaï is a popular image that shows the Eiffel Tower standing majestically at night. In this case, La Tour Eiffel is considered a work of art, not just an image of the Eiffel Tower.

I had always known the photograph and considered it a work of art because of how it was displayed and revered in the art world. I never really thought that at the end of the day, it is what it is—a picture of a building. There was no clear distinction between this photo and a photo I could take of the Eiffel Tower at night other than the fact that somewhere down the line, an art connoisseur deemed it to be a work of art.

This distinction definitely stuck out to me, especially when I think of myself or others taking pictures with art at the museum. Sometimes, people like to pose in a way that reflect their own understanding of the piece, which I feel, when photographed, shapes the way that others understand the same piece.

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The Broad

For example, taking this picture (see above) makes it a photograph just like any other. But if some art curator were to deem that this was a work of art, would it be mounted and revered as one? What are the ‘standards’ to which something is considered art? And who takes the credit—the secondary producer of the art or the individual whose work is encapsulated?


Week 3: Open Cultural Data and How We’re Not Using It

Mia Ridge’s article about Cultural Data in museums, and more importantly, the existence of open cultural data brings an interesting new commentary to the history behind many web sources we have today. The author breaks down the term ‘open cultural data’ to us step by step, as well as explaining to us what ‘linked data’ is. Essentially, open cultural data is data from cultural institutions that is made available for use in a machine-readable format under an open license. This means that it could simply be a PDF we have to read for a class. Linked data, on the other hand, is similar to open cultural data, but requires specific technical protocols to support connections in the ‘web of data.’

I related this article to my personal experiences with museums, namely the EMP (Experience Music Project) Museum in Seattle. Ridge states in her article that journalism ad politics were key drivers for the movement toward open data in the early to mid-2000s. However, it is quite interesting that museums followed journalism and politics into the era of open data in order to do a public service – share their knowledge of culture and history with the world.

The EMP museum website is no different. It is a beautifully designed website that provides access to information for all site visitors about the various exhibitions that the museum has. But aside from just logistical information, it also has historical and cultural commentary about the implications that certain exhibits had on the world. Unfortunately, these information pages, along with those about the programs and education that the EMP museum has, are rarely visited.

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Ridge, in her article, states that though there are many API libraries, galleries and archives, not every data set gets a lot of use. This is for a myriad of reasons: confusing/incompatible licenses, poor or inconsistent record quality within datasets, lack of images/interesting descriptions and undocumented/ambiguous vocabulary.

The EMP museum website tries to mitigate these reasons with aesthetically pleasing and modern design and easy-to-use layout. It goes to show that museums really are putting their best foot forward in creating an environment where learning is encouraged and welcomed—it’s not just a matter of whether or not the public will decide to make use of the resources available to them.

Week 2: The Exhibitionary Complex and Spongebob Squarepants

In “The Exhibitionary Complex,” Tony Bennett describes the two different opposing opinions in exhibiting art and artifacts in museums. One view, also known as the Carceral Archipelago, saw the public gaze as a form of incarceration, similar to people incarcerated in prisons. The other view, the Exhibitionary Complex, views the display of art as a way to educate the public and spread knowledge of the artifacts. It seeks to teach self-regulation through spreading knowledge. While prisons have inmates are monitored but cannot return their own look, the Exhibitionary Complex has it so that everyone is self-monitored, where the subject and object are interchangeable. Museums are like “show and tell” that seek to incorporate the common people into the processes of the state .

Something that I saw that aligns with this article is the Spongebob episode “Band Geeks,” where Squidward and his more pompous rival Squilliam compete to see who can direct the better ensemble to play at the Superbowl performance. Here, Squidward has to expose his less-cultured sea creatures to instruments and the art of performing music, which in this episode has been set up as a skill only for those more educated. In this episode, the Exhibitionary Complex can be seen in action—by teaching his fellow sea creatures how to play instruments—and that no, horse radish is not an instrument—Squidward is educating them and giving them a newfound understanding of something previously seen as exclusive to those of high wealth or status.

Similar to how the Exhibitionary Complex revolves around the art in museums, in this episode, music is the art form that is being showcased. Unlike what Douglas Crimp suggests, the showcase does not confine nor imprison the art. Instead, this showcase opens doors and exposes music as an art form to populations beyond simply the rich and cultured.

Here is the clip of the final band scene from the Spongebob episode, “Band Geeks.” I couldn’t find the full episode, unfortunately.