Our Museum Trip

I thought our trip to the museum was really interesting. For one thing, I had never been there before, so just going was kind of a cool experience. The exhibits in the museum were really varied, and definitely curated in different ways. The first exhibit I went to was the Mary Reid Kelley one.  I went in not knowing anything about the exhibit, and feel liked I walked out also not really knowing much about the exhibit. It was weird. However, it was curated very well. Most of the art in the room was black and white, which fit the room perfectly, with the dark floors and white walls. I feel like if the exhibit was shown in one of the other rooms instead, it wouldn’t have looked as good. So the space where the collection was displayed was very well chosen.

When I walked in, I went to the right side of the room first. There hung a lot of paintings, that didn’t really have anything to do with the movies. I think it was a great decision to include those, because they gave you an idea of Kelley’s artistic style. I then moved on to the movie, which was playing down a darkened kind of hallway. The movie was very well placed in the room, and the sound was loud, and allowed to echo around the rest of the exhibit, so that when you were on the other side of the room, you would randomly hear a dog barking. The chairs also seemed to be chosen specifically, because they were a lot lower than normal chairs. When I sat down, I almost fell because I wasn’t expecting them to be so short.  All in all, it added to the feeling of an altered reality, which it seems like Kelley was going for. The rest of the room was primarily devoted to props and scenery from the movies, all organized into different sections. There were other films playing, but they were not allowed to echo like the main movie was.

The other exhibits were a lot different than the first one. The Eugene Speicher exhibit was in rooms that had nice warm colored wood floors, and it immedialty inspired a much more comfortable feel than the first exhibit. The pictures were grouped together as portraits, drawings and sketches, landscapes, photos of the artist, and flower pictures (I’m not sure what the correct term for that is). One of the things I liked better about this exhibit was how the curator decided to put notes next to each work that described a little bit about the work, as well as about Speicher himself. It made me feel more connected to the artist than I did with Kelley’s work.

The 80s exhibit was also well organized with notes. The pictures were organized around the edges of the room, and there were things like jewelry displayed in the center. One of the things the two exhibits shared was the great way they were organized. Overall, I thought the trip was really interesting, and the curation of all the exhibits was very well done.

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BATTLESTAR GALACTICA

I’m only about 3 episodes in, but Battlestar Galactica has been pretty interesting so far. The thing that strikes me most is the mythical and religious allusions to past works. The theme song is very spiritual and I looked that up and found out it is lines taken from the Rig Veda. This goes along with the whole aspect of Cylon’s never being able to actually die, but constantly being reincarnated into a new collective mind and body. I also immediately noticed that names were very specific, such as Commander William Adama. His last name is clearly taken from Adam in the Bible, who was the first man on Earth. This name also means dirt, soil, and Earth itself, for BattleStar Galactica seems like it is really a retelling of the biblical stories in a futuristic way. There are also plenty references to Greek mythology, such as the ship Apollo and the 12 colonies having symbols based off of the Greek zodiac. These 12 colonies can also be compared to the 12 tribes of Israel in the Bible, which is a reflection of them looking for the holy “Promised Land”, which in this case is our planet Earth. 

Reddit: Love it and Hate it

I want to talk about a website called Reddit. Reddit is a site where you can browse, ask, answer, or search for just about everything. Reddit works like the many of the Internet forums online. The information is updated by members and is viewable from a link that either will connect you to a source off-site or, if the information is from the user, be directly on a forum. They sort the content by subject, called “Sub-reddits”, and from there gets sorted by popularity in the form of “up votes” and “down votes”. If users “down vote” the post, then it will be pushed near the end of the queue where little to no one will see it. If the post receives a huge number of “up votes” and a discussion evolves, then it will be at the top where millions might see it. As with the post, comments are also sorted by popularity.

 The site has a massive number of enthusiastic members that are also contributing members of society. In my opinion, reddit is literally the best place to crowdsource. It’s truly a site that can cater to everyone. Yet, what happens when content and comments are sorted by popularity? Occasionally the top post is insightful, educating or entertaining. Yet, more often the content is banal at best. The reality of Reddit is young teens or adults posting in an effort to impress others on the site in order to be ranked high in popularity. So people post simple, agreeable, and occasionally interesting things with the hopes of gaining temporary anonymous fame. In addition to this, many of the popular post on reddit are open to anyone to comment on anything. You may click on a post about and find the members added nothing of value to the subject. Thankfully, certain sub-reddits give rules and limitations so you can avoid some unhelpful members.

 

All in all I would that reddit is a great resource for learning and entertainment but curating by popularity makes the site endlessly frustrating. When it works as intended, it has great value. Yet, for every one post that is captivating and worthy, there are ten that can make it seem like just another pointless social media site.  

Museums are Important!

One of the sites I use as a procrastination aid is Buzzfeed. I know lots of people complain about how it’s stupid, and the lists are unoriginal, but sometimes I just want mind numbing, occasionally funny things to look at. So, as I was roaming the site, and putting off writing this entry, I came across this article. The article is about the U.S Army Center of Military History. The Center stores a huge collection of firearms, cannons, uniforms, and other military things from the pre-Revolutionary War era up to today. It has rare, sometimes one of a kind items that can’t be found anywhere else.

On top of this, the Center also has a collection of military art – about 16,000 pieces. A lot of the art pieces are painted by soldiers, and represent their reactions to war, and their perspectives on fighting. Included with the soldiers paintings are pictures taken from Nazi Germany at the end of World War II, including pictures painted by Hitler. I got really excited when I read about the art collection because it seems like an important part of American history, which I wanted to go see.

Unfortunately,  the amazing collection is not open to the public. Much like my last post highlighted, there is simply no space to store the items so that the public could view them. The Center does not have a museum.  This is a real shame, because a museum dedicated to the art pieces alone would really provide an interesting perspective to the public, especially because  most people have not experienced war first hand. It would also provide a very interesting look back on war times from a historical perspective. There is a group, the Army Historical Foundation, that is trying to raise money for a museum in order to make the collection available to the public.  I really hope they’re able to raise the money because a collection like this one is too important to be kept tucked away.

TUMBLR

A new curating site that has recently entered my life in the past couple of months is TUMBLR. I never even considered it to fall under that category, but after using it for awhile now I can see how it deals with the ideas we have talked about thus far in class. TUMBLR is pretty similar to Stumble upon which was mentioned before, in which it lets you browse through various pages of information. It is run a little differently however, being that it is slightly less random in the pages that it presents to you. This is because you have the ability to “follow” specific pages that have proven to you that they might be something of interest to your character. 

TUMBLR lets you post your own things to share, or re post what other people are putting on

their own page. This creates a huge network of sharing and re-posting with a community of like minded strangers. When you Follow specific people, it is like you are picking what you consider to be worthy of keeping and sharing with others, and there it remains on your own page history. You can put anything really on this website, from your own personal ideas and quotes to famous sentiments. This presses upon the idea of who owns the information and knowledge of what is being passed around, because you don’t have to cite where you are getting your posts, and things get re-blogged so many times that you cant even tell where it originated from.

People’s Tumblrs can be organized into very specific themes such as “pictures of goats standing on things”, or just a random free for all of cool stuff that people appreciate. My personal Tumblr isnt too particular of order, but you can probably see a few themes that I am trying to keep and pass on.  

http://voodoomamajewjew.tumblr.com/

Curation Crisis

I found my article on curating in JSTOR. It’s called “Curation in Crisis”. The article concentrated on the curation of physical items, not digital ones. The main problem the article highlighted is that a lot of museums and science centers are running out of places to store curated collections of artifacts. On top of that, a lot of the items that are being stored are not being preserved properly, or in proper storage conditions.

One of the seemingly easy answers to the problem is just to get rid of some of the less important artifacts. However, many scientists believe that technology of the future will be able to get more information from the artifacts, much like DNA testing and carbon dating has helped scientists understand more about older artifacts. Another suggestion people have made is to simply stop collecting so much stuff. That raises the problem of missing important information though, as well as possibly inferring things about artifacts that could possibly be wrong.

One thing that could be done to help with the curation crisis is digital archiving. There are a lot of things, particularly documents, that can be put online and preserved. For example, one archive recently put 1.5 million pages of war diaries from World War I online.  The archive is asking for the public’s help to go through the pages, and pick out relevant information such as names and dates. This information could then be used to organize the huge collection into a searchable online database that researchers could use. This eliminates the problem of space and preservation techniques, as well as makes a big collection available to a very big number of people. Digital preservation would not work with a lot of physical artifacts, and the problem remains of what to do with those items, but it could at least help to create a little bit more space in museums and science centers.

Here’s a link to the WWI project if anyone is interested.

Commentary on What’s (Really) Specific about New Media Art? Curating in the Information Age – Domenico Quaranta

What is new media art? According to Domenico Quaranta, it is “the established label for that broad range of artistic practices that includes works that are created, or in some way, deal with new media technologies.” Some forms of new media art that he mentions later on in the article include computer animation, robotics, internet-based art, and biotechnologies. In this article, Quaranta aims to discuss the process that curators of new media art must go through in order to be successful at their job. One thing that he believes is that curating new media art must be “strictly technical an medium-based” (which he feels is unsurprising as this is a general characteristic of curation). However, Quaranta acknowledges the fact that this is a complex process. It is difficult to classify what belongs in the curated collection, since new media art varies from traditional art forms. In new media art curating, it is better to view the curator as “less [of] a caretaker of objects and more [of] a mediator, interpreter, or producer.” The main obstacle for new media art curators oftentimes is technology. Quaranta also explains the fast-moving pace at which technology advances, and cites it as another difficulty for new media art curators. He therefore believes that it is best to separate technology from the other features of new media art in order to best analyze which elements are most important for curation purposes. In conclusion, Quaranta says that “it has to be more about curating the art that deals with new media, and less about curating the actual new media themselves.”

http://www.rhizome.org/editorial/2012/dec/6/whats-really-specific-about-new-media-art-curating/