Thursday, July 10, 2008

Vox Populi

The Brooklyn Museum’s online experiment in art democracy in action—Click! A Crowd-Curated Exhibition has reached its final stage—the exhibition itself! If you judged and commented on the photos online, like I did, check it out and you may see some of your comments included with the photos presented. Browsing through the photos displayed online, I saw several of my favorites were also a hit with the crowd. Some of my comments actually made it to the comment boards for those photos. It’s almost like being a curator, but without ever leaving your keyboard!

My only complaint about Click! is that the comments aren’t credited in any way. I’m not looking for a pat on the back, but so many of the comments are so similar, I can’t be sure if they’re mine. By taking only excerpts from the comments, this similarity problem becomes even worse. The fact that I wrote those comments months ago also muddies the waters for me. If they wanted to maintain anonymity, they could have just used first names and last initials. I’m sure there was more than one “Bob.”

Aside from that small complaint (and an earlier complaint that I had kept to myself about the difficulty in using the judging system software, which apparently many people moaned over), I love the whole concept of this populist presentation. The community theme was a natural for a first attempt, but I’d love to see the idea extended to more exhibitions and more presentations. I can imagine museums hosting a competition where visitors and members can vote on which works they’d like to see taken out of storage and brought back out into the light of day. Museums always complain about too many works and too little space, but such an interactive contest would empower the patron at the same time it gives the museum an idea of what the public wants to see. Bringing the museum even further into the modern computer age of instant gratification and customization is only accepting the inevitable sooner rather than later.

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