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Tag: uncanny valley

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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