Week 8 Blog Post

I personally expect a museum’s digital presence to enhance the works of art within a museum, rather than replace or overpower it.  I think that museums can utilize technology as a way to disseminate their information to a wide rage of audiences to gain attention.  I also believe that museum’s can utilize the transition into the digital space to change their role in a community or in the art world from a site of colonialism to a site of diversity.

Looking through the courses on coursera, I found that the Data science class developed by Johns Hopkins would be the most interesting to participate in for the course of a whole year.  I think that the information presented in this course would be extremely interesting and beneficial in multiple disciplines.  Similarly, since it is focused on data and manipulating data structures, working on the computer may make it easier to understand the translational process form lecture to practice.

I have found http://www.makers.com/about which utilizes digital storytelling to empower women.  The website holds a collection of digital storytelling processes and gives insight into the lives of powerful and impactful women in society. Check it out!

Week 7 Blog Post

Playful engineering: Designing and Building art discovery systems was interesting to me because it discusses a project that utilized a humanistic approach to technology from the very beginning. The intention of the technology was to introduce individuals to new types of art in a meaningful and sustainable relationship. This process was intended to act as a complement to the works of art, rather than as a technology to replace the work of art. Finally, the project was integrated into the city of Boston, which makes it more human based because the users will be able to interact with their surroundings through the lens of this technology.

I found Andrew’s discussion of algorithms particularly interesting because he presents an idea that I had never considered. If people see too many objects and too many options, the technology looses its purpose. The point to the technology is to be specific enough that the user sees hidden gems, rather than multiple collections of work with gems hidden within them. This point also shows off the human concern based in these projects. The creators have adjusted these technologies to enable users to feel as though their personal preferences are being understood while avoiding them feeling overwhelmed.

Finally, the physical layout of this article proved that human understanding was crucial to this project. By breaking down each section step by step, and including images of the work along the way, users are able to understand the personal work that went into creating this project. So often our technologies are created to hide the human aspect of technology, and I appreciate that this project aimed to break that barrier.

Week 5 Blog Post

This week’s readings, particularly Museums See Different Virtues in Virtual Worlds, highlighted questions that I had not started to fully consider before completing the readings.  Specifically, I became interested in the notion of funding and revenue for museums.  As a World Arts and Cultures major, I tend to focus on the content and curation of museums when i am considering them.  However, as we further discussions about museums’ transition to the digital, new factors begin to arise. As the Gat article highlights, shifting to technology shifts the dynamic of the museum-goers.  Understanding new ways to determine success becomes crucial within this transition.

With the transition to the digital space, museums must consider and contest their goal with their financial concerns.  By this I mean to suggest that museums often, when speaking of their digital information, claim that the transition will make the pieces within the museum more accessible to the public.  However, at what point does making a collection available online hurt the museum’s profit.  Will museums eventually become more concerned with making a profit than distributing their information to the general public? Will they eventually begin charging people to look at their collections online?

The answers to these questions will be very interesting.  It is my hope that museums will be able to keep people visiting in person and online.  However, if this trend is not the case, museums must critically consider what they believe their role to be within society.  Museums that decide to disseminate information to the public in the hopes of expanding education and interest in art will have a very different answer than museums that simply hope to make a profit.  I believe that this transition to the digital gives museums the option to redefine their own role.

Week 4 Blog Post

This article seemed to encapsulate many of the questions we as Digital Humanities scholars face on a daily basis.  How do we translate culture and art into data.  The general consensus that many people, including Baca, is that this translational process relies on metadata.  However, I think that it is critical to consider the effects that strict categorization can have on art.  I approach this discussion from a position that recognizes language as the fundamental basis for culture.  Each culture and its institutions are structured by their language.  So, as we transition art into a digital space, I argue that we are creating a new type of culture/ institution.  Within this creative process, we as scholars must be mindful of the terms that we use to categorize cultural objects and works of art.  This turning point of technology gives us as a society the capability to change the discourse of art as we define it.

Scholars have the opportunity to capitalize on this translational and transitional process in order to begin breaking down hierarchies that exist within the art world.  Though there are other concerns with defining metadata, I believe that focusing on this aspect of the transitional process can yield new possibilities within the art world.  If the translational process situates art from multiple different cultures, including minorities, in similar categories or of the same degree, it effectively challenges notions of otherness and potentially marginalizing discourses. Questions, such as is it a work or is it an image, are incredibly important in the transitional process.  However, I believe that a more pertinent question to consider is how can we translate the cultural objects in a way that works to break down the hierarchies that have be consciously, and unconsciously, imposed by the museum as an institution.

Week 3 Blog Post

This week’s readings were very interesting because they prompted a conversation about what it really means to have access to all of a museum’s pieces of art. I believe this article raises a few key points and concerns regarding the mass publication of artwork and embracing openness within the museum setting. Some such concerns are questions about whether the pieces will loose their significance when they are all available. Will the public still come to the museum to see it or will objects transition to be just digital information that is occasionally looked at? Are there ethical issues with presenting particular museum pieces online? Will this openness hinder or help museums in their relationships with the public?


I feel that it is important to consider the Smithsonian X 3D project to address many of these questions. The Smithsonian, as an institution, has international fame and draws people from around the world to come see their collections. By putting some of their pieces online, they have allowed people from around the world to view their pieces without necessarily being physically present. However, when I was working with Smithsonian X 3D, I felt encouraged to go see the objects in person. This desire to visit the Smithsonian in person was sparked by me wanting to see what differences there were between the pieces in person and the pieces online. I feel confident that many other people would have a similar thought process, or at least would be similarly intrigued by visiting the museum. I believe that this project could be difficult to work with while looking at particular pieces because of the cultural norms that the piece is associated with. However, I feel that in instances such as human remains and other objects, such as culturally significant masks, the museum could work to create alternative modes of expression. These expressions could range from descriptions about the object to recordings of voices from the culture that the piece is from. Overall, I believe that the museum should be using this technological turn to embrace a multivocal approach and expand the viewership of the museum.

Week 2 Blog Post

This week’s readings, specifically Resonance and Wonder, were very interesting to consider in relation to multiple exhibitions I visited at the Fowler Museum on the UCLA Campus. The Fowler aims to be a cutting edge museum that works with communities to integrate their own ideas into curated exhibit. Though they do not always accomplish this goal, their attempt to challenge historical methods of curating reflects the openness that Greenblatt discusses.

This newer approach to curating museum spaces has led to the creation of two exhibits, one on maps and one on the cabinets of curiosity that are discussed in the Greenblatt article. I believe that the acknowledgement of the cabinets  of curiosity by the Fowler opens a space for discussion, and prompts the subject of wonder to be about the museum as an institution.   By allowing the audience to be critical of the museum as an institution, I believe it opens a space for people to consider the objects both in the context of their culture, but also in the context of their history. Opening this space is crucial for individuals to gain a more complete understanding of the histories if the objects and the people that objects belong to. This space also allows individuals to consider the relationship that the museum has with the people who it aims to represent.

The Fowler also has exhibits, like the exhibit on Zuni Maps, which aim to completely integrate both the people and the objects that a culture presents in a museum. This particular exhibit was created in association with the artists and elders from the Zuni community to curate an exhibit that the community felt comfortable with. By integrating the voices of community members, the exhibit evokes wonder and openness in the experience because it allows for exposure to marginalized point of views.

These readings were effective to consider with relation to the Fowler Museum because it allowed me to contemplate the different approaches to curating museums and required me to be critical of the institution that I have attended since my freshman year at UCLA.  I believe that the museum can utilize digital technology to enhance this integration both as a method of curating and as an aspect of the exhibition