Week 8 – Digital Storytelling

Personally, I feel that the use of technology (in regards to the traditional definitions of technology, rather than our class’s understanding) is only most useful to museums if it engages the audience in a way that current print mediums cannot. Otherwise, the need to use technology renders useless. For example, if the idea is to reduce waste by using less paper for museum pamphlets through the increase of digital posters — it is successful in the sense that it creates solutions but I feel a strong need for interative elements beyond moving visuals. The beauty, for lack of a better word, in the use of technology is its capabilities to connect people beyond the physical realm, give answers to questions instantaneously, and to take a viewer into a different world essentially (may it be interactive interfaces that are clickable to immersive 3D environments with the virtual reality headsets). Thus, a museum’s virtual presence should be immense– it should unveil artwork in a way that the audience and understand the context better or experience differently than just seeing a work on the wall.


Also, despite lack of popular opinion, I personally enjoy online classes, such as Code Academy and Lynda. The reason being is the flexibility in the nature of online courses. For example, Lynda has the courses transcripted in the description with the ability to read ahead and highlight key phrases. Furthermore, for those who are pressed for time but want the most of the learning experience, Lynda allows the chance to change the speed — something that cannot be done in a real life class setting. If I zoned out Ina real class, that moment of learning would be lost; yet, the ability of online courses provides a way to go back in time and relearn what was forgotten as well. A pitch for an online course that I would take is how to make an effective anthropological video journalism work– how to properly and ethically interview and delve into social and cultural stories (so toes are never stepped on and cultures are respectfully represented). I feel that hear are important topics to discuss and share with a world wide public (beyond the physical realms of classroom settings).


A digital storytelling work that I find interesting is http://queeringthemuseum.org/previous-projects/digital-storytelling-project/

because it delves into the stories of an underrepresented community.


Week 7 – Museums as a Sacred Space

” Museums, like churches and libraries, are designed to enhance specific activities — praying, reading, looking — through the manipulation of architecture, lighting, object placement and ritualized behavior.”

In the article, “Tuning Out Digital Buzz, for an Intimate Communication with Art,” written by Holland Cotter, Cotter makes a ton of points in the argument of illustrating the benefits with artworks in physical spaces rather than technological representations as “sufficient” replacement. She mentions the understanding of scale; the beauty of massive art works surrounding you. Also, to see the work in real life has the power to create physical inclinations, such as this humanistic need to reach out to the art piece or feeling the anxiety and gravity in a “Christ in Majesty With Symbols of the Four Evangelists” due to the way Christ is positioned on the wall. However, the quote that I have pasted above is something that stood out to me — this comparison to a museum with a church.

Over the summer, I was able to take the class “Jerusalem, the Holy City,” where we discuss the idea of sacred space in Jerusalem. The term “sacred space” can be defined as a physical realm that is not homogenous, something set apart, in a religious sense, from the profane world. A sacred space has the capacity to change one’s behavior as well. For example, for a believer, the church is a sacred place that is set apart from the street on which it stands. The sacred space of church the changes the person as he or she walks through the doors.

With this understanding and Cotter’s article, the physical implementation of a museum can immediately change the perceptions of a viewer — as not many people would take selfies with a page in an art book, yet would act differently if in the MoMA where the walls and lighting are staged perfectly for photo-taking. In a way, for art-lovers (much akin to religious believers) may find that the museum is a sacred space that is set apart from the rest of the world, and thus, the work within the confined spaces are just as sacred. When a piece is in a book page, it not only takes away from the details of the pieces, but the overall experience of separating the person you are when you walk on the street to the person you become when you walk past the double doors that enter into a gallery.

Week 5 – The Virtual Worlds of Youtube and Museums

In the article, “Museums See Different Virtues in Virtual Worlds” written by Anand Giridharadas, Giridharadas discussed the various ways museums, specifically the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Brooklyn Museum, have outreached their information to further open its worldwide audience, especially through social media platforms. A part of the reading that struck a cord with me is the idea that the public no longer wishes to see the final “polished” product, but seeks the behind-the-scene views into the lives of the creators — best said by Sreenivasan :“You want to build an audience before you have the big launch, rather than just sit on something and have it appear.” As an avid youtube watcher, one of the biggest things that this reminded me of was the movie “Camp Takota” starring Grace Helbig, Hannah Hart and Mamrie Hart (all famous Youtube celebrities). Helbig has stated in numerous interviews that she attributes the success of the movie and its massive following to her two week video blogs where she took her youtube audience of her personal Youtube Channel (“itsgrace”)around the set, introducing the viewers to the cast, directors, producers and showing the making of the movie as it was being made. She claims that the video blogging experience made the viewers more invested into the movie (thus, more inclined to purchase the movie), as if the viewers were somehow a part of the movie by watching the making of it. Without the accolade nor publicity of professional film studios, this insight of behind the scenes information developed a more intimate relationship and bond to viewers. Helbig’s view and experiences would further the argument of Sreenivasan.

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Giridharadas also touches on the fine lines involved in creating shareable content that would speak to potentially anyone and everyone; yet, maintain its sense of credibility and scholarship in an internet world of cat memes and cinnamon challenge videos. This balancing act can be somewhat compared to the world of Youtube as well. Youtube relies on the factor of sharing videos to achieve “viral” success and even encourages this behavior to create viral content, yet aims to be seen as a more professional platform by creating music video award show and web show series. Although museums and Youtube are vastly different entities, they embed similar qualities in that they both aim to provide platforms that endeavor to showcase something reflects our culture to the public eye.

Week 4 – SANAA

In the article, “Community makers, major museums, and the Keet S’aaxw: Learning about the role of museums in interpreting cultural objects,” written by Charles Zange, Zange discusses new wave aim of museums trying to embody cultures in technology in efforts to preserve something that truly cannot be contained. This article illicit reminders of my last quarter in DH150, of SANAA coming to visit the class and discussing how community can be given a voice over the platform of the internet. However, in later classes, it was much discussed that culture cannot be fully understood by these modes of data — as data is merely a representation.

SANAA aims to illustrate the stories of people of color who have been marginalized due to the misrepresentation of the South Asian people in mass media after the 9/11 attack. However, it was important that they mentioned how although these are the stories of the people who face the trials of immigration, that one cannot truly live out the experiences expressed through mere reading. This database and site furthers the argument that Zange creates as to “… take a closer look at a few examples of how museums work with community makers; and second, to begin a discussion that critically evaluates the future of community-driven digital projects.”

Week 3 – Renderman Open Sourcing

In the article, “Where next for open cultural data in museums?” written by Mia Ridge, Ridge explicates the recent demand and openness of cultural data projects as well as the numerous effects that follows such transparency. Something from the article that interested me was the potential use of a museum’s cultural data for creative use through Creative Commons. Although museums most likely intended that artwork images be shared for the sake of sharing and learning, the article pointed out how artist can take the data and repurpose it to create new meanings — regardless of whether or not that is a good or bad thing.

This utilization of open data seems, to me, much akin to when a program suddenly opens its use to the public for noncommercial purposes– in this case, I am reminded of the release of Pixar’s Renderman application. Pixar, known for its immense animation, utilizes this program to speed up rendering time with just as perfected quality. The fact that they have released this technology to the public is no secret.

Ridge articulates this tension between allowing certain parts of data be accessible for others to use for their own personal work; yet, the importance of distinguishing a “more sophisticated data structures and specialised vocabularies to support internal uses, partnerships between museums, libraries and archives, or for use in research-led projects.” Pixar holds this similar distinction by opening up a noncommercial free version of Renderman while keeping the most up-to-date technology saved for themselves to create the animations we see on the theaters. Likewise, Ridge explains how “many museums are making lower resolutions images available for re-use while reserving high resolution versions for commercial sales and licensing.”

I personally agree with this distinction and classification of materials. By making certain portions “off-limits,” it demonstrates that the artwork or program as more valuable than if it were to be given away freely, respecting the artists who’ve shared their work.  Ridge ends her article concluding that in the end, open data has to potential to expand knowledge and stimulate innovation — just as Pixar’s Renderman application has the potential to advance progressing animators.


Week 2 — Installing art is an art form

In this week’s reading, “The Museum As a Way of Seeing,” by Svetlana Aplers, Alpers illustrates a variety of examples of her experiences at art museums and exhibitions: specifically that of Dutch art and the MOMA. She further argues that “the museum effect… is a way of seeing. And rather than trying to overcome it, one might as well try to work with it.” Thus, the installation of the objects do, indeed, attribute to the viewer’s overall experience. Alpert even goes as far to say that museums need to “pay as much attention to the possibilities of installation as to the information about what is being installed.”

This reading heavily reminded me to an academic article written by Erkki Huhtamo, a professor here at UCLA’s Design | Media Arts department, titled “Explorations in Exhibition Anthropology.” In Huhtamo’s piece, Huhtamo discusses how the display of the work and the signs that surround the work will attribute to the piece itself. For example, by having a sign that says “Do Not Touch This Piece,” it implies that there are other pieces that are to be touched and interacted with. Also, when the space of an installation was arranged that a doorway was right behind the piece, viewers were naturally inclined to walk behind the piece even though it was later discovered to be off-limits as soon as the security stopped them. Huhtamo discovered that the way a piece is presented has the potential to ultimately take away or add to the viewer’s experience of the piece.

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Although both writers have different aims in resolution, they both discuss a similar premise — that is, the design of the installation plays a role in the museum space. Alpers, on one hand, illustrates the importance of presenting the work in a way that educates the public — leading to resolutions such as MOMA’s audio tour guides, giving clarity and clear vision to the pieces in an exhibition. Huhtamo, on the other hand, depicts the significance of designing a space to present the works in the most practical way that viewers can get the optimal experience, without confusion whether or not to touch the piece or disfunction in regards to where to walk, and able to fully put their focus on the piece itself.