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What’s technology got to do with it?

Or maybe the more appropriate question is, “What does technology have to do with art?” It is a question often asked in the face of ever-more pervasive digital content. There are so many ways that art can benefit from technology. It is likely that you are having one of two reactions to that statement. Maybe a raised eyebrow with a silent, “Yeah, right.” Or perhaps you have already bought into this notion and your gut reaction was more like, “Well, of course!” Regardless of your point of view it is probably next-to-impossible to see it from the opposite perspective. Why?

I assert that it has to do with how much you love technology. My life, for example, is steeped in it. I read art blogs, watch YouTube videos people send to me via e-mail and spend nearly every moment wired in to some form of technological interaction. So of course I think art, like everything else in my life is fair game for technological enhancement.

But I know there is another point of view. One that firmly holds art and its viewing in a quiet, pensive place, unfettered by the white noise the digital world can create.

The difference in these perspectives is often attributed to a generational misunderstanding, that somehow if you were born before the internet was commonplace then you have no hope of ever understanding it. But I think that is an unfair generalization. Perhaps there is some truth somewhere in that stereotype, but like all stereotypes, that logic is flawed.

Instead, I would assert that it has to do with experience, and the quality of those experiences. If you hate technology, could it be because you tried to use something, or find something and couldn’t? If you love it, isn’t it because it makes your life easier and gives you access to fabulous things?

So, with these extremes in mind, we set out to create digital content that allows people to passively consume or actively participate depending on their desires. So discover IMA on the internet if you haven’t already. You can find us…

  • Posting images on Flickr. You can just look or get into it and join our groups and even add your own content.
  • Creating videos and adding them to IMA’s YouTube channel. Feel free to watch, share and critique these.
  • Writing this blog gives you an insider’s view of what happens at IMA. We always love seeing your comments here.
  • Adding content to our iTunes U site. Download IMA audio and video to your iPod or iPhone.
  • Developing new web stuff for IMA exhibitions and projects. We recently launched a site for To Live Forever: Egyptian Treasures from the Brooklyn Museum.

If you are reading this list and still wondering why we do it all, I will offer a couple of reasons. One of the key motivations for creating digital content is to allow IMA to compete in the global marketplace. Not entirely in the way a for-profit corporation might, but to help the museum raise its profile, giving attention to its projects, exhibitions and permanent collection.

Another great reason to utilize these technologies is to provide content in places where people are already participating. iTunes, YouTube, and Flickr have established global audiences, and by providing content on these sites, IMA can expand its reach to people who could never make it through the front door.

Perhaps the most compelling motivator for us is potential. Potential to create diverse audiences, and to serve audiences we don’t even know about yet. Chris Anderson, Editor-in-Chief for Wired magazine wrote an article called, The Long Tail, describing how the internet creates a never-before-seen possibility to direct content to increasingly smaller audiences for increasingly less expense. Since we can customize content in all of these places, we can meet the needs and desires of people who want to know about very specific things without it costing us any more to produce or maintain.

We also have the potential to provide an experience through photos, video or online activities that gives a new viewer his or her first glimpse into what the art world can offer. A simple Google search for a topic might lead someone to IMA’s website, or to one of IMA’s projects on another website, allowing us to be the ambassador of art-related content.

Lofty goals? You bethca. But why would we bother otherwise?

And for those who are more interested in the finite, quantifiable reasons, we consider those too. We track numbers and look for projects that increase viewership or interaction with our content. A recent example is a partnership we are working on to provide access to IMA-produced video in local schools, boosting our outreach to school-aged children and teachers, and consequently, providing an under-served audience with high-quality art content, for free.

So there is the last nugget. Free. Everyone loves free stuff. All of the things we do are free to those who use it. You can search on your computer at home and find us, or go to your public library and use their free internet to get our free stuff. No matter what, you can’t beat free!

Still not convinced it is all worth it? Feel free to tell us why! (And we would also love to hear from those of you who love it!)

Filed under: Art, New Media

3 Responses to “What’s technology got to do with it?”

  • avatar

    Despi: I am enjoying your and other’s Blogs at IMA. Your premise here, “What’s technology got to do with it?”, is fascinating and immediately relevant to our NoguchiBlog:
    The NoguchiBlog is about the pivotal four years the famed artist Isamu Noguchi lived in Indiana with a typical family and graduated from LaPorte High School in 1922. Not many are aware of his crucial Hoosier experiences, and we hope to bring wider attention, particularly to Indiana school children (like he was).
    I’m hoping members of the IMA community, like Samantha Weiss, can spread this awareness with their colleagues, like at Indiana University. Both IMA and Indiana University are extensively referenced in the NoguchiBlog.
    Glenn Ralston

  • avatar
    Despi Says:

    I love Isamu Noguchi! I would love to know how this post is “immediately relevant” to your blog? How is the Noguchi museum utilizing technology to further its mission?

    Thanks for posting?

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