Week 8: Museum Websites and Digital Storytelling

I really enjoyed the videos from LACMA’s website. In fact, before this assignment I actually didn’t know there were such videos, despite having visited the website quite a few times previously.

I liked how there were different types of videos – some entertaining, some informational, and some educational. The one that especially appealed to me was the Past Exhibitions: New Objectivity: Modern German Art in the Weimar Republic, 1919–1933. Watching this video felt like I was given a private tour about modern German art. The curator did a great job narrating the historical facts and tying them in with interpretations of the artworks. I also liked the camerawork: it switched from the curator to paintings on the wall, to zoomed-in shots of the paintings, really shaping the storytelling presentation and making it feel real and dynamic.

Some educational videos, like on Khan Academy are very useful. I especially like that website for learning about math and sciences. That format, however, would not be appropriate for discussing objects and artworks, I think, because it’s too static.

There are many factors to consider when making a digital storytelling project about an object, and I think the way it should be done and presenting will vary based on the object, or at least type of object. For example, for smaller, cultural objects such as masks, pots, vases, plates, mini-statues, etc. – I would expect a lot of close-up shots of the actual object. Also, I would expect some images or clips showing how that object is used in its natural context. Also, given that today we can also have 3-D representations, it could be interesting to integrate a clip of the 3-D interaction with the object if there is any interesting detail to reveal that is not observable using basic videocamera. For larger objects and/or presentations, I would also expect shots of the curator, or other visitors in order to understand the scale of it.

5 thoughts on “Week 8: Museum Websites and Digital Storytelling”

  1. I’ve actually visited the New Objectivity: Modern German Art in the Weimar Republic, 1919-1933 not too long ago. Ironically, the first thing I was told before I stepped into the exhibition was to not take photos or videos. The exhibition itself was pretty great, even though there was a lack of digital technology. But they compensated this by creating context for the objects using spatial relations and ordinary objects to create Greenblatt’s idea of resonance. In the video, one of the speakers talks about the huge mural of Germany’s largest gay club to recreate the vibe during this time in Germany. It’s interesting to see that the curators intended the viewers to engage with the artwork and experience what the atmosphere must have been like in Germany during this time without technological distractions. But they also produced this video to give deeper context and understanding of the artworks. So they used technology to enhance the experience but just in a different way.

  2. I agree with you on online courses, especially formatted like how Khan Academy does their videos. I used to have Khan Academy courses as supplementary lessons for my summer Statistics class, and although I thought that they were pretty useful, I found myself having to either go back and attempt to match the speed of Salman Khan when he’s explaining a concept, or have to look up even more information if I was still confused. So in that aspect, as well as in terms of having video lessons like these for, say, history and the arts, I think different formats should be considered. Maybe interactive lessons, like using games or other forms of digital media, I think would result in learning that caters to students specializing in humanities education, or people curious to find out more.

  3. I also really enjoyed the Objectivity virtual tour. I feel like behind the scenes work that gives you a personal experience with the art that is different from entering the museum itself is important with digital storytelling. I also feel that interesting, detailed shots of the work are important because they give the viewer a different perspective.

  4. I think your observation on Khan Academy not working for arts is interesting. Khan academy actually has an art history section the last time I checked, but I agree with that notion. I think integrating 3-D objects will certainly help with online learning. Especially when you account for where the technology could be in a few years, I think more immersive learning via the internet will definitely more prevalent.

  5. I think the New Objectivity video was informational in providing context to artworks as a museum’s digital content should be. Although the history behind New Objectivity is dense, the curators did a great job breaking down the significance of the artworks. One area that LACMA could have done a better job with is cinematography. Yes, the video is not a movie and its foremost purpose is to inform, but from a viewer’s perspective with the average attention span of three minutes, I found the filming style slightly plain. Diverse camera shots, angles and visualizations could have helped make the video more interesting. I say this because I consider museums to be not only institutions with the mandate to educate, but also leaders in creativity that push boundaries and are as well-versed as the artists they work with in what is modern and new.

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