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A Virtual Trip to Venice

It’s a bit quieter around the office this week, though my inbox is no lonelier. From curatorial staff to exhibition designers, public affairs representatives and IT staff, the IMA has a mighty team of Biennale ambassadors overseas. They’re hosting VIPs, recording videos, taking photographs, installing work, and surely doing a list of other necessary tasks that I am unaware of. While it may seem like the whole Museum boarded a plane, that’s certainly not the case. Many of us (most of us, really) are here manning the fort.

So what are we up to back in the motherland? A few things really…

While our traveling cohorts organize and gather the documentation materials, a team of us are ready and on-hand to help get that content to you (and our friends in the media) as quickly as possible. Working within a system that includes a 6 hour time difference isn’t always easy, but multiple process meetings prior to the trip has made for smooth sailing (knock on wood).

Most of my job entails getting the content out to you, our online audience. From updating the website with videos, images, and information to managing our Facebook and @imamuseum Twitter account, my work is 90% online and 10% meetings about the online material. I sincerely love this job and it’s because of this job that I feel like I am in Venice along with everyone else.

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Filed under: Around the Web, Current Events, IMA Staff, Venice Biennale

 

First Impressions

First Impressions is a social tagging experiment that allows us to see what you see, or rather, where you see. Individuals were able to go through a selection of artwork and click on where their eye was drawn first. By doing this, we were able to document exactly what people looked at first.

Kyle Jaebker is the applications developer behind First Impressions. “Coming from a non-art background, it’s interesting to see if I’m looking at what everyone else is . . . and any art interaction is valuable.”

So what do people see? Well here is one of the presented images -

Lozowick, Louis (American, 1892-1973), "Winter Fun."

and here is where everyone clicked (the warmer the color, the more clicks received).

The viewer did bounce around a little but mostly kept to the figures in the foreground and the center of the painting. But are these people looking at the right things? Or are there even right things to look at?

Marty Krause, Curator of Print, Drawings and Photographs, weighs in on this idea, “There aren’t wrong answers. People’s eyes tend to go to the middle—that’s how eyes work.” The artist knows this and builds their composition around it. You’ll look at what the artist intended you to look at first; it’s part of their job as a visual expresser.”

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Filed under: Around the Web, Art, Musings

 

Why You Should Know Hanneorla

Hanneorla has to be among the most prolific amateur art photographers of the 21st century.  With more than 40,000 Flickr images that have been sorted into 517 distinct sets—each from a different location around the world, and mostly of art, architecture, and museums – Hanneorla’s photostream is one of the most important sources for art images in the 21st century, and why so many were excited about the potentials of  “Web 2.0.”

I first became aware of Hanneorla around 2007 when I was looking for Flickr users that were photographing artworks on the grounds of the IMA.  The set made for the IMA has 61 images in it and most of the contemporary outdoor artworks are documented. Although the sheer number of photos is impressive, what also interested me is the way the photos were taken: many of the works are shown from multiple sides, demonstrating that Hanneorla is skilled at looking carefully at art.

It was also around this time when Clay Shirky was getting a lot of attention for talking about how the Internet was ideally suited for us to spend our cognitive surplus doing something productive, rather than just watching television in the evening (Shirky estimates today this cognitive surplus is around a trillion hours a year for the adult population in the developed world).  Trying to harness but a sliver of a thumbnail of this surplus, we created the Wikipedia-and-Flickr-based project Wikiproject Public Art. While this continues to slowly grow, I’m always on the lookout for museum-based projects that tap into the cognitive surplus in a meaningful way.

So, to get to know the most productive art photographer in world better, I invited Hanneorla here for a discussion.

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Filed under: Around the Web, Art, Photography, Travel

 

Detail-Oriented

Richard B. Gruelle, The Canal-Morning Effect, 1894 (detail).

So far, I’ve tried to be engaging. My blog posts were all a stab at that and I think I’ve done well. Largely, I’ve written on how you don’t need a degree to enjoy art. However, one can’t deny that knowing background information surrounding a piece does enhance its story. When you don’t know anything about the work or the artist the only context you have is the nail it’s hanging on. Personally, I feel this should be enough and museums spend countless hours developing ways to make “you are in a museum” the only context one needs – but it is nice to know more. So. I’ve posted a handful of images from our permanent collection on the IMA’s Flickr account. I cropped the images into detail shots and gave a little background information. One of the best things about my internship is that I get to learn a lot “fun facts” about our works, so I shared a few. My goal was to provide context, be engaged and (as always) have a little fun with art.

Filed under: Around the Web, Art, The Collection

 

Ai Weiwei

Ai Weiwi, "Remembering," installed at the Haus der Kunst, Munich, 2009.

Prominent Chinese artist Ai Weiwei was detained by police in Beijing’s airport on April 3rd while attempting to board a flight to Hong Kong. He continues to be held in police custody, with little information released about the events surrounding his arrest. (Learn more about the accusations here.) A longtime human rights activist, Ai openly criticizes the Chinese government and risks his personal safety to expose governmental misconduct. Active since the late 70’s and early 80’s, he has become increasingly more outspoken throughout his 30-year artistic career, which has caused him to become the subject of sustained, intense scrutiny by the Chinese government.

Ai WeiWei is one of dozens of activists taken into custody by the Chinese government since February. Fearing an uprising akin to those in the Middle East and North Africa, the government began to preemptively take into custody the most prominent human rights activists in China.

To show support for Ai and hopefully hasten his release, a petition has been created by an international group of art museum directors. Sign the petition here. In London, Tate Modern is currently exhibiting a 2010 installation by the artist entitled Sunflower Seeds, and has become a location for outcry against his arrest.

Ai Weiwei’s activism is tied to his art. In 2008, an earthquake in Sichuan, China, caused poorly built schools to collapse, killing thousands of local school children.  When the government failed to publish the names or amount of deceased students, Ai and other activists began to investigate to uncover the truth—that Sichuan officials allowed for the construction of unsafe schools. Ai was beaten by the police in 2009 while preparing to testify in the trial of Tan Zuoren, a writer and activist who was also conducting research about the events in Sichuan. Despite this act of violence, Ai WeiWei continued to commemorate the students that died.  His installation tiled the façade of the museum with backpacks, which spelled out in Chinese characters “She lived happily for seven years in this world,” a statement by a mother of a victim in the Sichuan earthquake.

Filed under: Around the Web, Art, Contemporary

 

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