I don’t think I have any major expectations in terms of a museum’s digital presence except a clean functioning website that offers an explanation or information on the exhibits and events taking place at that particular musuem. Any museum site should be user friendly so as to draw in potential patrons, an expectation that I would think to be intuitively considered in the web design process. Othewise I think digital aspects shouldn’t necessarily stand in for the physical experience, but instead enhance it as with the arrival of the megalith in the Levitated Mass video on the LACMA site.
I’m actually taking an online class right now through UCLA for my last science GE. Though its pretty convenient, I wouldn’t say I’m getting much out of the experience since it is so easy to complete the adjoined activities without really understanding the content. However I think this has less to do with the online aspect and probably more to do with my lack of interest in the subject matter. If I had to chose or create an online class I think I would be interested in something more of a practical application like something to do wth coding that way I’d be more interested in actually understanding the content.
I didn’t have any immediate thoughts when it came to good digital storytelling projects I’d seen so I googled. A project that came up numerous times was Bear 71 which was an interactive storytelling project about a female bear living in Banff National Park in Canada. The story took around 20 minutes and varied between controlled visuals which would play at specific points in the narration in conjunction with an interactive range which would appear in between allowing you to travel over the park tracking not only Bear 71 but other animals and humans. All the while there was narration that was meant to be coming from the main subject Bear 71 explaining essentially the negative effects of the human expansion and presence in the once truly wild habitat of these animals. By relating these issues in the format of a story, I think it was more emotionally resonant and the message thus had more impact.
For this week’s blog post I looked at the article Personal and Social? Designing Personalised Experiences for Groups in Museums which covered a kind of experiment that involved allowing the visitors to become the curators for their friends’ and families’ experiences in the museum. To do this they offered a mobile app which had a basic template from which the designer could choose whatever pieces they felt their respective loved one should visit. After making those selctions they could add an audio element through song to better create the mood of the moment. Additionally they could provide instructions on how the loved one should interact with the chosen piece and textual information they should know about it. The purpose of the piece was to blend the personalization of self-curated tours of museums with the social experience of coming to a museum with others which can be lost when individually creating personal experiences.
In terms of how successfull the app was, I think they achieved their purpose in creating something that was both personal and social since they were able to watch as both pairs and groups interacted and reacted towards how their loved ones wanted to view an object. Though I think the argument could be made that this still removes the agency of the patron since they are stll not controlling their own experience, I think the personal element is still clearly evident in that the people who likely know them best are specifically designing something for them to enjoy which is pretty cool. The tour then perhaps becomes more personal then something purely self-curated since patrons are sharing an experience in which each object is chosen to have a special meaning. In that way I feel like there is a greater sense of resonance with each object since they would then be able to connect to the personal moment and interaction curated by their loved one. Thus in this way the technology enhanced the connection between the patron and the art.
The part of the readings that I found to be the most interesting was in the Art in America article “The Museum Interface” written by Sarah Hromack and Rob Giampietro, in which Hromack discusses a group of people n New York she spoke to who chose not to attend what she perceived to be an important exhibit due to the high quanitity of social media exposure to the exhibit they had received. I feel like this example directly relates to what we’ve discussed in class, which is whether or not the digital experience of an exhibit can act as a replacement to actually experiencing the exhibit in person. Hromack made the point, which I agree with, that without physically visiting a museum and seeing a piece of art for yourself, you lose some sort of sensory reaction and perhaps sense of wonder. That indefinable quality that comes from the museumm experience, I don’t think will ever be replicated into the digital sphere until we are virtually able to enter the museum space and experience it as though we are there in person.
Still, I think that the role of digital exposure in the museum world is important. A growing trend in museum visitorship is to use social media and photography to look at art in a comedic sense through parody. Last year my family went on vacation to Italy, where we essentially took a museum tour of the country. While the artwork was impressive and awe-inspiring at a certain point interaction and interest with for example hundreds of similar statues of ancient Roman figures becomes limited. My sister and I thus decided to pose ridiculously with said sculptures and objects so as to liven up the experience. Though I was slightly concerned with disrespecting the museum and the art, I think humor can actually work really well in helping people who otherwise not be interested in art to actually appreciate what they are seeing. The article “Museums See Different Virtues in Virtual Worlds” touched on the comedic role of social media in the museum experience when it touched upon the mustache tour of the Met.
Looking at this week’s readings the thing that stood out to me the most was the contrast in the presentation and purpose between the Cooper-Hewitt and the “I cannot make bricks without clay visualizations”. While they both have a somewhat similar purpose in that they were created to look at the change in color usage over the years, the presentation was widely contrasting. I think despite shortcomings in both, the Martin Bellander tumblr post was more successful in that he explained what he was producing. With the Cooper-Hewitt post I was left with a feeling of so what, it’s all fine and dandy to make a visualization, but if it doesn’t really say anything on its own you should probably go to some effort to explain it. I think perhaps the point might have been for viewers of the post to noitce trends on their own and come up with their own observations, but the visualizaton to me seems flawed in that nothing really jumps out to me as partcularly notable except perhaps the recurrence of brown and green in the 1940’s. With the Bellander visualization he stated an observation towards the trend of the growing use of blue and he presented several theories as to why that trend may have occurred. While the theories were produced through comments and thus cannot necessarily be relied upon, they show engagement with users on the visualizations. I think that visualizations can be great ways to look at data differently, like with the DH101 projects we did last quarter which includes the well made Tate project, but I feel like sometimes visualizations are made just to be made. With the Cooper-Hewitt viz I just feel like it doesn’t really say anything. Perhaps it could be used as a starting point to lead into more in depth research, but as it is I think data alone can’t necessarily be left unexplained. Though they might be made with the latest software and tech and they might look fancy, if a visualization isn’t being used to argue a point or act as evidence for the data they represent then they are merely decorative minutiae.
In “The Exhibitionary Complex” by Tony Bennett, when discussing world fairs there was a quote I found interesting regarding their “function less as vehvles for the technical educaton of the working classes than as instruments for their stupefaction” (22). I think with museums there is somewhat of a line drawn between what is educational vesus what is meant to amuse and entertain the masses. The need for a growth or consistancy in terms of visitorship often means curation of exhibits that will draw in the greatest numbers which does not automatically indicate a loss in educational value and purpose, but can do so. Regardless of the educational value of an exhibit, the self-celebrating quality of musuems which show human acheivments seems clear. The prestge associated with various museums of art and the pieces they display are in themselves evidence of a culture that places value in its own productions. To clarify, the issue of what is art versus what is an artifact is part of this. For example, the museum in my hometown has a number of famous pieces of art and photography from Western artists reflecting the history of the county. In a comletely separate exhibit are the pieces of Native American history that were likely originally taken without permission. The separation of cultural identities to both self-congratulate and almost voyeuristically speculate is definitely problematic. Though perhaps done to educate the masses on the history of the Native American peoples in the are, the exhibit was advertised as something exotic with if I recall correctly a tagline about entering another world suggesting the kind of alien nature of another culture. The need to create the sense of stupefaction to draw in visitors to celebrate what is not their own is problematic and undermines the value of the museum experience.