Placemaking in the Digital Age

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This presentation by Susana Bautista, Adjunct Faculty, Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism, University of Southern California - explores the notion of museums and placemaking, and how digital technologies are enabling museums to mark their places in new and innovative ways. When museums think about technology today, they must also think about place. A few questions to ask are: What are the new places that museums are occupying in the digital age? How do museums act with their visitors in these new places? How do these “new” places connect with the “old” places? What new places are museum visitors occupying, and what are they doing there? How do museums “make” place, and is there a hub? Placemaking has existed from Stonehenge to the Acropolis, and to monumental buildings centrally placed within a community such as The Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Art Institute of Chicago, and the Getty Center; and museums historically have had branches or satellites, programs within the community, and community partners. What is new is how technology allows us to better understand the networked museum experience, to engage its global community of visitors and users, and to connect physical and online places, mobile and fixed experiences.

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Placemaking in the Digital Age

  1. 1. PLACEMAKING IN THE DIGITAL AGE Susana Smith Bautista, Ph,D. University of Southern California November 22, 2013
  2. 2. How digital technology enables museums to mark their places in new and innovative ways. Technology frees us from the burden of identifying place as permanent, fixed, and physical to embrace a new notion of place as mobile, intangible, experiential, and changing. Questions • What are the new places that museums are occupying in the digital age? • How do museums act with their visitors in these new places? How do these “new” places connect with the “old” places? • What are the new places that museum audiences are occupying, and what are they doing there? • How do museums “make” place, and is there a homebase?
  3. 3. What is Placemaking? 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. Marking your place Setting boundaries Creating destinations Shaping public space Creating and bonding community Community-driven, collaborative, sociable Context-sensitive and culturally aware ArtPlace America Project for Public Spaces
  4. 4. Placemaking in the Analog Age
  5. 5. Museums and Placemaking Building museums to create place Chicago Art Institute, 1900 Museums creating their own place The Getty Center, 1997
  6. 6. There are 2 main reasons why Place has receded for the modern museum 1) due to technology 2) due to the primacy of experience Both are related, as new digital technologies allow for new kinds of experiences, a continuous cycle of dependence. What is Museum Experience? Participatory Interactive Immersive User-generated Collaborative Games Individual Creates memory Long lasting
  7. 7. How is PLACE different in the Digital Age? “an itinerary…a series of encounters and translations” “a space of flows” (Manuel Castells, 2000) (James Clifford, 1997) “chronotope” (Mikhail Bakhtin, 1937) “an event” (Edward Casey, 1996) “practiced place” (De Certeau, 1984) “the experiential museum” (Hilda Hein, 2006) “rhythms” (Henri Lefebvre, 1974) “locality” (Eric Gordon & Adriana de Souza e Silva, 2011)
  8. 8. TOPOS place ATOPIA out of place, improper UTOPIA not a place, nowhere TELETOPIA to be telepresent technological globalization Teletopia is replacing atopia and utopia (Virilio, 1997) The “omnilocality” of place (Casey)
  9. 9. The case of the Guggenheim in search of a place… Venice New York City Las Vegas Bilbao Berlin Abu Dhabi Helsinki Guadalajara Rio de Janeiro Taichung
  10. 10. The Distributed Museum Musée imaginaire (museum without walls) – André Malraux (1967) Deterritorialized hyperspace networks – Paul Virilio (1997) © Balsamo and Bautista 2011
  11. 11. The Distributed Museum Moveable Museum Program, AMNH “Since visitors do not make meaning from museums solely within the four walls of the institution, effective digital media experiences require situating the experience within the broader context of the lives, the community, and the society in which visitors live and interact.” - Falk & Dierking (2008) Folk and Craft Art Museum, Los Angeles
  12. 12. Asian Art Museum at SFO Airport Walters Museum Off the Wall Tate Art Maps, 2012-2014
  13. 13. Building Community With practically every museum today having its own website, community now takes on a global perspective through the ability to reach anyone, anywhere, and at any time with an Internet connection. “New communities are continually made possible by the innovations of new communication technologies, yet as these new communities form, fears surface that they wil undermine existing networks of connectivity, the family and the neighborhood” – Marita Sturken & Douglas Thomas (2004)
  14. 14. Mapping your Global Community Interactive maps Data visualization To understand a museum in the digital age is to understand how its online & global community is related to the physical & local community, and to all the points and flows of interaction within its distributed network.
  15. 15. Social Media Going to the places where your audience is Connecting your online and physical places
  16. 16. Virtual Worlds Place no longer implies physicality Connecting back to the physical
  17. 17. Mobile Technologies “Now that our devices are location aware, we are much better positioned to be location aware ourselves” - Gordon & de Souza e Silva (2011)
  18. 18. The re-emergence of Place in the Digital Age as Experience “People still want a sense of place, a sense of belonging, in a physical way” – Katie Hafner (2004), Technological Visions The re-materialization of digital techniques (Bruno Latour, 2011) “The expansion of digitality has enormously increased the material dimension of networks: The more digital, the less virtual and the more material a given activity becomes”
  19. 19. …but still grounded in the physical and local “It may be a revival of localism, or a reaction against a world becoming too global and too plugged-in. Face-to-face and participatory experiences, especially in unexpected places, can serve as a counterweight to digital, virtual experiences.” - TrendsWatch 2012, AAM “It is an ancient tradition of moving monoliths to mark a place. The idea is that LACMA’s campus really is a center for Los Angeles, a cultural center, a multicultural center, and this rock will mark it very physically, in a very timeless and light manner as you walk under it.” – Michael Govan (2011)
  20. 20. Susana Smith Bautista, Ph.D. ssbautista@yahoo.com www.susanasmithbautista.com
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