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Tag: museums

Adobe Museum of Digital Media

by on Feb.10, 2011, under Art

I received in my inbox today, a Rhizome editorial about the Adobe Museum of Digital Media.  Since the editorial was presented first, I read it, completely unwittingly ignoring my training by essentially reading the placard before examining the work.  Naturally, after reading the article, I had a skewed view on the website, museum, whatever…what it represents and what its value is.   Afterwards, I clicked around a bit; I looked at the current exhibit, then took a ‘tour’ of the building, before finally listening to the curators message.

I have issues with it, yes, but I don’t think it’s all that bad.

First of all, I’m very much intrigued by the idea of artists creating work especially for the museum.  One of my favorite exhibits at the Denver Art Museum was  when several artists created works inspired by the museum’s new wing, even painting on the walls themselves.  For me, art is about a reaction, whether that’s a viewer’s reaction to the art or the artists reaction to something that inspires them.  I love the idea of art museums encouraging the creation of art as much as the collection and connections of existing works.

However, I was turned off by the coldness of the museum.  It may be an artifact of the ‘uncanny valley’ that the first exhibit is based off of, but I’ve always had a problem with digital art being inherently unhuman.  When creating digital works, we have a tendency to separate it from humanity.  We forcefully emphasize the computerness.  The presentation of this museum is no exception.  The virtual tour of the ‘building’ is overly futuristic and cold.  The curator’s video has tv scan lines and keeps blinking in and out of existence like an electronic connection that just can’t stay connected.  The tour guide appears to be an eyeball squid creature with the computerized voice of Isabella Rossellini.  Is it impossible to make digital art seem approachable and human?  Wouldn’t a more interesting artwork about the uncanny valley be one that manages to eliminate it?

Finally, since this museum is only online, it’s intentionally excluding any digital works that cannot be accessed through a computer with a live internet connection.  Digital art can be sculptural and physical as well but this exhibit places sole emphasis on intangible digital works created for the screen.  It would prohibit any tangible work, any work that required non-access to the internet, and any work that requires a physical space to be experienced.

The museum, website, whatever, is interesting.  However, in its current state, I see it more as a digital work in itself rather than a place that conserves and furthers the field of digital art.

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Virtual Art Museums

by on Feb.01, 2011, under Art

In art school, we often looked at images of artwork in books or copies displayed on the screen from a projector.  These often left me wanting.  The images were poorly reproduced; often they were in black and white or blurry.  Rarely, did they accurately or even remote convey the original art piece in any appreciable detail.  I felt that what was needed was a giant database of art works that were digitally copied in high resolution, enabling instructors and students access to these images and giving them the ability to zoom in and out and get a true sense of the details: the size, the paint strokes, etc.

Leave it to Google.

The Google Art Project enables the online viewer to not only view individual art pieces on the screen but gives them the opportunity to zoom in, viewing the intricate details, the brushstrokes, the crackling, the nuances of an artist’s work.  In addition to viewing the artwork itself, Google has also implemented a ‘street-view’ of several art museums so ‘visitors’ can tour the museums from the comfort of their own home.  While nothing can compare to experience of viewing an artwork in person (I never knew Van Eyck’s paintings were so small), the street view can help give a sense of the scale of the artwork and experience how it is displayed at the museum and its relation to art displayed around it.

This is a good start but has room to grow.  I’d like to be able to click on the artwork from the ‘street-view’ and then be able to explore the artwork, read the informational plaque, and maybe even impulsively buy a poster of it from the gift shop.  It could link to books on Amazon or to a local library search about the artwork.  It could include a way to find essays or blog posts that talk about the piece or a way to find other works by the same author, in similar styles or related in other ways.

What about three-dimensional art, such as sculptures.  A painting is two-dimensional and is more reasonable to experience from a two-dimensional computer screen, but how do we experience a three dimensional object?  Will there be 3D renderings in the future?  Complete with graphical skins that accurately convey the texture and blemishes of stone, bronze, or otherwise?  Will we need 3D glasses to fully experience a sculpture or do we need to wait until virtual reality is a reality?

Time will tell.

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