In “The Museum Interface,” Hromrack and Giampietro talk about facilitating “meaningful interactions with art that might occur in the gallery, via Web-based applications or in new hybrid spaces that merge the real and the virtual.” But how can curators control for these interactions to be meaningful, educational, and appropriate when technology has allowed for more freedom in digital engagement? Museums have utilized Instagram, Tumblr, Twitter, Facebook, and online blogging platforms among many other digital tools to further expand and connect with both the local and global audience. And while the number of likes, followers, comments, and retweets can be quantified and measured, it does not necessarily translate to meaningful interactions as Orit Gat points out in his article.
A case in point is the way museum visitors use Snapchat to interact with the art. Due to the short lifespan of the captured photo, people behave and interact differently as opposed to careful posing, filters, and comments in Instagram. To catch the Snapchat users’ attention, funny, witty, or even inappropriate comments are added to the photo, which not only affects the way the art is encountered and experienced by those viewers but also leads to blatant disregard of the artist’s work and the curator’s intended experience. Buzzfeed has a couple articles dedicated to some of the saved Snapchats out there in the virtual world showcasing the ways users have interacted with art. In a way, these snapshots have become a form of art in itself since they are forms of expressions and interpretations of the users. But it poses a challenge for museums to balance their role as the caretaker of the collections while also enabling scholarship and digital engagement with the public. Giampietro says, “The new hyper-visibility is difficult because it can transform a unique installation into commodified image; the work’s lasting political power could easily be mistaken for a fleeting trend.” And these Snapchats of art pieces, although very funny, have completely removed the objects from their resonance, ignoring any means of meaningful interaction. Perhaps this is one of many reasons why museums have prohibited pictures in the gallery.
*Some more links to the Buzzfeed page: