Week 8: Response to Agnes Stauber

As far as digital storytelling, something I really look for is if the topic at hand is interesting at first glace, if the discussion of it is quick and to the point, and if the way it is presented is engaging. A good example I’ve stumbled upon in the past is (excuse the candid topic) Asian Flush, Explained. also by Vox (they do a really good job at these types of videos, evidently.) As with Noor’s example, the topic and the video length is perfect for motivating me to watch the video in its entirety. I think when conducting this type of storytelling to people who are unfamiliar with the given topic, videos in the format of a “crash course”–i.e. quick, to the point, exciting, sometimes funny–are really effective. Also, it doesn’t hurt that the video itself is visually striking.

Although this example is somewhat unrelated in the context of museums, I feel that museums are able to and should leverage this kind of storytelling in their digital presence. Looking at the LACMA’s current videos, it seems as though LACMA is doing relatively well in its videos angles–behind the scenes, interviews, expanding on exhibits’ topics, etc. I don’t really have strict requisites for museum’s digital presence beyond that, in all honesty. Videos are, to me, the most effective way to add context to curious museum goers, so long as they are done in a way that keeps viewers interested, as sometimes museums blur the line between a “digital presence” and “educational television, online.” Instagram being effectively used as a publicity tool and as a way to convert digital viewers into in-person viewers has also been discussed in readings, and I agree it’s a good tool in establishing digital presence. The Broad and The Met have been seen as good examples of this.

As far as online classes, I’ve taken a handful in an academic setting. One UCLA class was focused on 3D modeling in urban planning, and had two elements: a set of video lessons of the program SketchUp building on top of one another, and a set of videos giving real-life context to what we were modelling. The former was effective, but the latter was completely ineffective. The context videos were just really dull and did not come across as meaningful, where as the 3D modelling videos were engaging because of its “learn-by-doing” concept. I remember KhanAcademy in high school… and hating it; but I also remember going through Lynda classes on Adobe Creative Suite and Final Cut Pro and enjoying them, so perhaps my initial interest play a significant role in lessons’ perceived effectiveness. A class I would pitch would be maybe a web design class or an iOS application design class that would employ the same “learn-by-doing” aspect my 3D modelling class had, ultimately having students walk away with a finished product for a portfolio or something in that nature.

Tuning Out Digital Buzz, for an Outdated Way of Thinking

(Please excuse me if I sound angry; these types of arguments just annoy me.)

They move through galleries fast and with a new purpose — cellphones in hand, they’re on Instagram treks and selfie hunts — and with a new viewing rhythm: Stop, point, pose, snap.

I’ll just start by saying I hate this article. I hate the wording. I hate the attitude. I hate the way of thinking. I hate that the article sounds like another “them-versus-us” argument about the detrements of social media and those young people are on those darn smartphones too much. 

Although yes, there are people who are just that vain and do go to museums just to take “selfies,” generalizing an entire demographic as attending museums for such reason is… stupid.

Like libraries, they were places where the volume was low, the energy slow, the technology unobtrusive. You came to them to look, to think and, in the days before museums became the prime social spaces they are now, to be alone in a small, like-minded crowd.

Yes, and you also used to pay gas that didn’t make your wallet cry, used to refer to a paper map for driving directions, and used to dial an industrial-grade plastic telephone with a corded handset. So what? What point are you trying to make? That museums are no longer the same environment back in “the good ol’ days?”


My own introduction to art was remote and virtual, at home as a kid, looking through books, flipping pages, stopping when something caught my attention. But what got me hooked were visits to museums, notably the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and seeing crucial features of art that didn’t come through in reproduction.

The attitude this author has is preventing him from realizing this: the same way books motivated him to go out to the museums to experience the real thing, social media is serving for the present generation. He speaks of everything books lacked–scale, experience, texture–without realizing that the “digital photographs” he speaks of are not seen as a holy grail that our generation is using to substitute a live experience. He sites a survey that states the obvious–that people prefer to see museums in person. He ends his argument with, again, the obvious–that photos do not suffice in terms of experiencing art. What he completely fails to see is that us, as “young people,” agree with him as well. I can attest to this firsthand, as my list of must-visit-when-I-have-free-time museums were generated from a friend’s Instagram. Without him, I probably would not have known about the more obscure, local museums outside of the LACMA and the recent Broad-buzz. Furthermore, museums own social media accounts do not supplement a substitute for a real life visit, but rather encourages it, seen below in the Pasadena Museum of California Art’s Instagram.

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Notice a user tagging her friend to actually go to the museum in person (I checked, she’s not old.)

Obviously there is the same motivative quality in social media as the author found in books. Just because we are now in an age of “digital natives” does not mean that all museum goers today lack substance. In fact, the fact that the author has a discouraging tone towards those who do manage to visit a museum in person, assuming and brushing off their motive as vain, only weakens his already ill-focused argument to me. He’s not satisfied with millennial culture making museums accessible online, nor is he satisfied with the reasons that make them want to go in person… What is he trying to achieve?

The only thing this article achieves is perpetuating an unnecessary “us-versus-them” mentality over a subject that is (somewhat) universally agreed upon.  How can you call this good journalism?



Using digital media to reach further

“Eight years ago, we were saying the Internet is the way to become broad,” Ms. Bernstein said. “I think we should be thinking about that in moderation now.”

The New York Time’s Museums See Different Virtues in Virtual Worlds highlighted two different museums using social media to expand their reach to audiences–the Brooklyn Museum, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. While the first is a smaller, locally-focused art museum, and the other “an isle in the global archipelago of leading museums,” both museums had similar goals in overcoming geographical boundaries by engaging far-away audiences through digital platforms, the goal echoing that “anyone, anywhere, could participate and would, if given the chance.” Both of these museums explored their options in achieving this goal, and ultimately these two museums diverged in their results: the Met continues to utilize Instagram to give global audiences sample tastes of what the museum has to offer, whereas the Brooklyn museum continues to use their internet presence to give their local audience more intimate insights of the museum’s featured artists.

The article brings up a great argument that digital media’s reach can vary greatly, depending on the goals and intentions of the user. The Met was (seemingly) successful in achieving the global reach that the Brooklyn Museum wanted but could not attain. However, that does not go to say that the Brooklyn Museum is failing to use such technology successfully in their own right; they simply have a different goal from the Met now. The article describes the Brooklyn Museum as using social media’s reach in moderation, with attention now being shifted from a global reach to attain brand-recognition, to a local reach to attain a more well-rounded and intimate artist-audience relationship. Yes, social media holds the potential to transcend physical boundaries and reach global audiences, but there is still value in smaller-scale digital outreach, like when the Alhambra police department began using Wechat to engage with their local (majority) Chinese-speaking population. Although this isn’t an art example, it was an example to me that demonstrated that local audiences are just as important as global audiences; we (and museums) should not lose sight of that capability when it comes to utilizing digital platforms. The impact is different, but effective and meaningful, nonetheless. The Brooklyn Museum therefore can’t be considered necessarily less successful than the Met in their use of digital outreach.

And another point that I found interesting was the Met using Instagram themselves to reach audiences. It goes to show that when trying to reach a larger audience through social media, museums have two options to go about it: either through their own account and their own content, or through their audiences’ accounts by providing engagement.Being in LA, we have so many public art pieces such as murals and even specialized museums (Broad, etc) that allow us to–and actually encourage us to–blast them on our accounts as a tool to generate social capital (while at the same time giving publicity to the art.) The Broad’s digital presence is successful by using the latter, and I wonder if the Met has done that as well.

Cataloging and Related Works

This week’s reading was interesting in that it almost sounded like an instruction manual on how to set up a museum (at least to me.) With the way the author narrates the article, this could very well prove to become something like “Museums for Dummies.”

Anyways, what I found most interesting was the discussion in part one about related works. The reading describes related works as having important conceptual relationship with each other, and are most relevant for works with multiple parts, works of architecture, collections of works, and works in a series. The article goes to say that it is most important to record works that have a direct relationship with the work of art being cataloged, especially when the connection is not obvious i.e. works by the same artist or with the same subject are apparent, but if one of these works is “preparatory for another,” that connection is not as apparent and must be recorded. In order to aid this, the CCO recommends distinguishing between intrinsic relationships–relationships that enable effective searches, such as by artist or subject–and extrinsic relationships–where two or more works have a relationship that is informative, but not essential either physically or logically in identifying either of the works.

When I read this, I couldn’t help but recall my trip to the Broad for my museum report this past week, where I couldn’t up but ask myself while walking around, why were certain pieces placed in the same room as other pieces–along with, “Why is there a taxidermy sheep in a tank of water in the middle of this room?” If they are from different artists, what connection do they have with one another? What does a golden urinal have to do with the with Barbara Kruger? Why are certain pieces chosen to be in a room of their own? This weeks reading hinted at some possible answers to this; perhaps some of these works held extrinsic relationships that art-newbies, such as myself, could not identify right off the bat.

Museum’s Open Cultural Data & DH101

Museums have increasingly been joining the global movement for open data by opening up their databases, sharing their images and releasing their knowledge.

This week, Mia Ridge’s Cultural Data in Museums discussed how museums are making available their content and knowledge to the general public by utilizing open cultural data–that is, data that is made available through “machine-readable formats” by cultural institutions under an open license. This data includes anything from metadata, narratives, bibliographies, quantitative records, and so forth; and the open license gives access to anyone from outside the institution whom created it by clarifying permissions and restrictions.

I hate to bring this up but I can definitely relate this week’s reading to my team’s DH101 project last quarter, where we explored the Tate Britain’s collection of Joseph Mallord William Turner’s paintings. With the Tate Britain granting us access to their open cultural data via an (extremely comprehensive) Excel sheet of the collection, we were able to analyze and explore the data to ultimately contribute a unique interpretation of their collection.

In Cultural Data in Museums, Ridge goes onto conclude that open cultural data ultimately unlocks great potential for the museum to spread knowledge due to its web data’s networked nature. That is, each cultural dataset added contributes to wider knowledge and creates new possibilities for innovative experiences of shared cultural heritage. I feel like our website kind of exhibits this. The Tate giving us their open cultural data for us to form our own narrative and interpretations, it could potentially lead to a domino effect of other people seeing our website and then wanting to explore the data on their own to form their own  analysis separate and unique from ours’. Take for example one of our tabs on the website, Travels, which looked at Turner’s paintings in relation to his travels through Europe.

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Here lies the potential for someone to look even further into this data than we did to come up with an argument that may have not yet been brought up. Through this, I can definitely see Ridge’s point of the networked nature of open cultural data. Open cultural data leads to projects such as that of DH101, which can then possibly spark curiosity in someone else to further interpret the open cultural data, adding to network of knowledge.


Week Two: The Exhibitionary Complex in LA

In “The Exhibitionary Complex,” Tony Bennett discusses two opposing views when exhibiting museum art and artifacts: the Carceral Archipelago, and the Exhibitionary Complex. These two opinions interpret both the public gaze and the display of art in different ways–the former seeing it as a form of incarceration, and the latter seeing it as way to educate the public through such artifacts. The articles surmises that through self-monitoring, museums acts as an exhibition which seeks to educate and inform normal everyday people by directly integrating them into it.

I had somewhat of a difficult time trying to draw an example I’ve personally experienced, but one of the first things that came to my mind was Projection LA–a public art piece here in Silverlake on Sunset Boulevard, which I’m sure everyone has seen on their social media feeds at one point or another. This article I found best describes the scene surrounding the whitewashed motel.

As you walk the western edge of the trendy hamlet of Silver Lake on the city’s storied Sunset Boulevard, it’s the palms you see first, as the monotone piece slowly emerges from the contextual beige of strip mall stucco. Actually, first you’ll see dozens of people standing precariously in the middle of four lanes of traffic to Instagram the piece, which is about as social-media ready as a public art piece could possibly be.

I feel that the first half of the description relates to Bennett’s Exhibitionary Complex because the art that is being showcased is not imprisoned or incarcerated, but is rather extremely accessible to the public, and therefore allowing the “common man” to partake in an experience that is normally thought to be that of higher-class or wealthier populations. Furthermore, the second half of this excerpt takes this exhibition from public to… I guess “super public” through social media, thereby expanding the reach of this art piece even further to populations that would normally not partake in such an experience.

That being said, it’s definitely evident that more and more museums are taking advantage of the Exhibitionary Complex–take for example, The Broad, LACMA’s Urban Light, etc.–by exposure to and incorporation of everyday people. It’s a trend that is fueled by today’s digital media, and although I love the concept of increasing art’s accessibility, I wonder if all this is just that–a trend–and how long will it last?