The Internet facilitates new interactions, experiences, and understandings of art within a museum setting. It has spawned new conventions of display that has drastically changed the museum-going experience as a whole. As a generation that exists online, museums have had to adapt beyond catering solely to visitorship and embrace the ever-growing presence that exists online. One thing that the Internet loves is content. They want access to that content and more. They want to download it, hack it, upload it, and remix it; most importantly the online community wants to be a part of the conversation. The difficulty that museums face with the advent of the Internet and new digital platforms is what conversation they want to have. Should a museum’s online presence seek to develop scholarship? Should it entice the online world to step away from their screens and onto the museum’s steps? Should the goal be to reach an audience that would otherwise not have access to or the means of visiting and experiencing the museum itself? Or has the ubiquity that comes with having an online presence demystify and discourage online users from experiencing their works in real life? I personally find this last question most interesting. As someone who loves to actively visit museums and scroll endlessly through Instagram, with the new “hyper-visibility” that applications like Instagram, Snapchat, or Vine propagate, I do feel that objects loose their sense of wonder and resonance when I’m bombarded with their image over and over again online. I don’t think it replaces the experience of actually going to view an object in person, but I think something is lost. With the proliferation of the same image of the same object, I also can get a sense of the kinds of interactions we have with objects today within a museum setting. It has become almost less about the object, and more about the response to that object. People love to comment either through their posting of an image, or a thought on twitter, or a status update on Facebook. I find it interesting that our interactions with the objects themselves have shifted from passive viewing to actively critiquing in our own, small ways.
All in all, I’m for museums having a larger presence online. I think you can gain access to some great works that maybe otherwise wouldn’t have been accessible to you before.
This is one of my favorite online exhibitions (and artists).
Check out this interactive Cindy Sherman exhibit: http://www.moma.org/interactives/exhibitions/2012/cindysherman/#/0/