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Collecting the Cloud, Feeding the Crowd




Peter Samis
Associate Curator,
Interpretive Media
San Francisco Museum
of Modern Art


                                         Jochen Gerz, The Gift (detail)


ALI-ABA 2012           San Francisco   March 19, 2012
―Knowledge… has broken out of its physical
confines (the pages of a book or the mind of a person)
and now exists in a hyperconnected online
state.‖
          –David Weinberger via REBECCA J. ROSEN
As if to confirm…
―For the coming generation, knowing
looks less like capturing truths in books
than engaging in never-settled networks
of discussion and argument.‖
―the smartest person in the room is
no longer a person but the room
itself.
                             if the room —
              ―this also means that
              the network — is stupid, we
              ourselves will be made more
              stupid.‖

―our task is to   learn how to build smart rooms.‖
                   –Rebecca Rosen in dialogue with David Weinberger
That‘s what‘s known as Curating.




                       Both in the museum…
And on the Web. Here‘s an early example.
Harrell Fletcher & Miranda July‘s
Learning to Love you More

[In 2002, before the rise of the blogosphere and Web
2.0 platforms, Harrell Fletcher and Miranda July
launched a collaborative online project that invited
people all over the world to perform and respond to
creative assignments: a kind of socialized ‗art school.‘
Participants followed the artists‘ simple instructions
and submitted documentation or ―reports‖ on their
assignments to the project‘s website.]
This was the last assignment.
The site became a book, which you can buy at Amazon…
(or at the SFMOMA MuseumStore!)
When SFMOMA acquired this collective artwork, we got
more than just a website. Here‘s a glimpse…
[And here are some of the drawings and
photos a year later, archivally matted and
stored.]
Social practice art = relational aesthetics
[Let's listen to the artists themselves give a
little background on the project and the
unforeseen sequels that ended up being
cross-woven among participants from all
over the world. This anticipates the social
web, which we will discuss in more detail
later.]
An example of piggybacking:
Assignment #12:
Get a temporary tattoo of one of Morgan Rozacky's neighbors.
And in the gallery:
[In 2010, as part of the exhibition The More Things
Change, SFMOMA invited Bay Area artist Stephanie
Syjuco to develop an in-gallery presentation of
Learning to Love You More. Rather than making a
curatorial selection of a few assignments, Syjuco
opted to translate Fletcher and July‘s online artwork
into a different time-based medium—a digital
slideshow in which all contributions for all the
assignments were presented: two assignments a day,
projected side by side.]
And in the gallery:
Collecting works like this leads us to…




      [Technology issues are now Intimately interwoven
      with curatorial and aesthetic issues.]
And internally, across departments:

Team Media:
• Curators
• Conservators
• Registrars
• Media technicians
• IP managers

Addressing time-based and digital art issues… since 1996!
Some of those issues are technical:
think of the ever more rapidly evolving
media format and hardware standards.




 [From the job description for the New Media Conservation
 Administrator]
―The content has a longer lifespan than
the technology does.‖




                                    Photo: SMcGarnigle


Besides, what‘s the shelf-life of a standard these days?
Piggybacking —>Linking w/ an attribution
                    —> Pirating




        In the world of copyright, where does
        building on each other‘s work become
        uncool? Or in a world where everybody is
        borrowing sentence fragments from
        everyone else, be they visual or linguistic,
        what‘s a copyright lawyer to do?
On the Web itself, a lively debate
ensues.
The Internet is inherently a
CULTURE OF LINKING:

“the emerging sense of the author as
moderator — someone able to marshal
„the wisdom of the network.‟”
     –Bob Stein via Maria Popova, aka @brainpicker
―It‘s all about LINK LOVE."   –Maria Popova
Here‘s a flaming retort: is CURATING just
a grandiose term for SHARING?
Continuing with Maria for a minute:


 ―IP, as a term, is inherently flawed and
 anachronistic in its focus on ownership
 (―property‖) in an age of sharing and
 open access…"
Personal
  reflection
  writ large
  as social
  sharing…
  with
  artwork as
  an impetus.


[Inspired by the current
Rineke Dijkstra show]
Or at a simpler level:




  [Whether it‘s through a Pin or a tweet, pictures of our artworks
  seep into the Web through many ports.]
Where does that lead a museum that
wants to be…
It‘s clear that our visitors—both on-site
and online—want access to our material


      • For creative use
      • For personal reflection
      • For projection into the
        public sphere as part of
        their own life and identity
Are the artworks* ours to give?
Are they ours to withhold?
                                  *or rather their representations
For whom do we hold these works in
public trust?

• For the artists?
• For their descendants/Estates?
• For the visitors who pay at the gate?
• For the visitors who find us for free
  through a link on the Web?
• For the Future?
Just who is the Future—and where are they today?
Thank you.

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Collecting the Cloud, Feeding the Crowd

  • 1. Collecting the Cloud, Feeding the Crowd Peter Samis Associate Curator, Interpretive Media San Francisco Museum of Modern Art Jochen Gerz, The Gift (detail) ALI-ABA 2012 San Francisco March 19, 2012
  • 2. ―Knowledge… has broken out of its physical confines (the pages of a book or the mind of a person) and now exists in a hyperconnected online state.‖ –David Weinberger via REBECCA J. ROSEN
  • 3. As if to confirm…
  • 4. ―For the coming generation, knowing looks less like capturing truths in books than engaging in never-settled networks of discussion and argument.‖
  • 5. ―the smartest person in the room is no longer a person but the room itself. if the room — ―this also means that the network — is stupid, we ourselves will be made more stupid.‖ ―our task is to learn how to build smart rooms.‖ –Rebecca Rosen in dialogue with David Weinberger
  • 6. That‘s what‘s known as Curating. Both in the museum…
  • 7. And on the Web. Here‘s an early example.
  • 8. Harrell Fletcher & Miranda July‘s Learning to Love you More [In 2002, before the rise of the blogosphere and Web 2.0 platforms, Harrell Fletcher and Miranda July launched a collaborative online project that invited people all over the world to perform and respond to creative assignments: a kind of socialized ‗art school.‘ Participants followed the artists‘ simple instructions and submitted documentation or ―reports‖ on their assignments to the project‘s website.]
  • 9. This was the last assignment.
  • 10. The site became a book, which you can buy at Amazon… (or at the SFMOMA MuseumStore!)
  • 11. When SFMOMA acquired this collective artwork, we got more than just a website. Here‘s a glimpse…
  • 12. [And here are some of the drawings and photos a year later, archivally matted and stored.]
  • 13. Social practice art = relational aesthetics
  • 14. [Let's listen to the artists themselves give a little background on the project and the unforeseen sequels that ended up being cross-woven among participants from all over the world. This anticipates the social web, which we will discuss in more detail later.]
  • 15. An example of piggybacking: Assignment #12: Get a temporary tattoo of one of Morgan Rozacky's neighbors.
  • 16. And in the gallery:
  • 17. [In 2010, as part of the exhibition The More Things Change, SFMOMA invited Bay Area artist Stephanie Syjuco to develop an in-gallery presentation of Learning to Love You More. Rather than making a curatorial selection of a few assignments, Syjuco opted to translate Fletcher and July‘s online artwork into a different time-based medium—a digital slideshow in which all contributions for all the assignments were presented: two assignments a day, projected side by side.]
  • 18. And in the gallery:
  • 19. Collecting works like this leads us to… [Technology issues are now Intimately interwoven with curatorial and aesthetic issues.]
  • 20. And internally, across departments: Team Media: • Curators • Conservators • Registrars • Media technicians • IP managers Addressing time-based and digital art issues… since 1996!
  • 21. Some of those issues are technical: think of the ever more rapidly evolving media format and hardware standards. [From the job description for the New Media Conservation Administrator]
  • 22. ―The content has a longer lifespan than the technology does.‖ Photo: SMcGarnigle Besides, what‘s the shelf-life of a standard these days?
  • 23. Piggybacking —>Linking w/ an attribution —> Pirating In the world of copyright, where does building on each other‘s work become uncool? Or in a world where everybody is borrowing sentence fragments from everyone else, be they visual or linguistic, what‘s a copyright lawyer to do?
  • 24. On the Web itself, a lively debate ensues.
  • 25. The Internet is inherently a CULTURE OF LINKING: “the emerging sense of the author as moderator — someone able to marshal „the wisdom of the network.‟” –Bob Stein via Maria Popova, aka @brainpicker
  • 26. ―It‘s all about LINK LOVE." –Maria Popova
  • 27. Here‘s a flaming retort: is CURATING just a grandiose term for SHARING?
  • 28. Continuing with Maria for a minute: ―IP, as a term, is inherently flawed and anachronistic in its focus on ownership (―property‖) in an age of sharing and open access…"
  • 29. Personal reflection writ large as social sharing… with artwork as an impetus. [Inspired by the current Rineke Dijkstra show]
  • 30. Or at a simpler level: [Whether it‘s through a Pin or a tweet, pictures of our artworks seep into the Web through many ports.]
  • 31. Where does that lead a museum that wants to be…
  • 32. It‘s clear that our visitors—both on-site and online—want access to our material • For creative use • For personal reflection • For projection into the public sphere as part of their own life and identity
  • 33. Are the artworks* ours to give? Are they ours to withhold? *or rather their representations
  • 34. For whom do we hold these works in public trust? • For the artists? • For their descendants/Estates? • For the visitors who pay at the gate? • For the visitors who find us for free through a link on the Web? • For the Future? Just who is the Future—and where are they today?

Editor's Notes

  1. We do that at the museum. It’s known as curating.
  2. Learning to Love You More is a “smart room” conceived by two artists for the Web. In 2002, before the rise of the blogosphere and Web 2.0 platforms, Harrell Fletcher and Miranda July launched a collaborative online project that invited people all over the world to perform and respond to creative assignments: a kind of socialized ‘art school.’ Participants followed the artists’ simple instructions and submitted documentation or “reports” on their assignments to the project’s website.
  3. Here was the last assignment. If you look on the right, you’ll see the names of people who completed it. On the left are the assignments that came before. Link here…
  4. The site became a book, which you can buy at Amazon… or at the SFMOMA MuseumStore. (There were three copies left when last I checked!)
  5. But when the Museum acquired “Learning to Love You More” in 2010, the year after the project officially ended, we got more than just a website. Many of the >8,000 submissions were analog, ranging from letters and tapes to rolled banners, framed paintings, stuffed toys and a re-created Rubik’s cube. Here’s a glimpse of what we received.
  6. And here are some of the drawings and photos a year later, properly matted and stored.
  7. So some issues are technical—or technologic—and others come at the intersection of aesthetics and philosophy. Fletcher and July are pioneers in the field of social practice art, also known as relational aesthetics.
  8. Assignment #12:Get a temporary tattoo of one of Morgan Rozacky's neighbors. This was An example of piggybacking. (Morgan Rozacky had described her neighbors for Assignment #2Make a neighborhood field recording.)
  9. In 2010, as part of the exhibition The More Things Change, SFMOMA invited Bay Area artist Stephanie Syjuco to develop an in-gallery presentation of Learning to Love You More. Rather than making a curatorial selection of a few assignments,Syjuco opted to translate Fletcher and July’s online artwork into a different time-based medium—a digital slideshow in which all contributions for all the assignments were presented: two assignments a day, projected side by side.
  10. Comfy seating, too!
  11. issues of a more technologic nature, which are now Intimately interwoven with curatorial and aesthetic issues.Matters in Media Art is a platform for working on/addressing these emergent issueswith our peers in the New Art Trust:MoMA and Tate. As a result, SFMOMA’s methods are developed with—and actively critiqued by—two, other museum partners, also active in collecting media art.
  12. Meanwhile, in-house, Team Media holds monthly meetings to address the special sorts of issues raised by time-based and digital art. And this has been going on in one form or another since 1996!
  13. Who knew that a museum conservator would need “familiarity with micro-controllers, sensors, etc. and the ability to read a schematic?” But once you think about it, it makes perfect sense. As a society and its expressive capacities evolve, so do its art forms. And you know the artists are going to go there first, before any standards have been nailed down.
  14. Is there a continuum here? In the world of copyright, where does building on each other’s work become uncool? Or in a world where everybody is borrowing sentence fragments from everyone else, be they visual or linguistic, what’s a copyright lawyer to do? Is the copyright model itself becoming somewhat obsolete?
  15. On the Web itself, a lively debate ensues!
  16. Think once again of Learning to Love You More. What Fletcher and July did was serve as convenors, inviting other people to contribute and display their creativity. Yet we only bought the piece from them—not their myriad contributors.
  17. I recommend this website, where Popova puts forth an already controversial proposal for new forms of attribution on the Web.
  18. It elicited an ad hominem [or feminam?] flame from blogger Matt Langer.
  19. Here is a tumblr blog written by a college student who had a revelation about herself through the discomfort she felt in the presence of her peers as depicted in portraits at the current RinekeDijkstra show—which you’ll be able to see this evening at SFMOMA.
  20. Many people don’t reflect so much as they pin—or tweet—or post to their Facebook page. Pictures of our artworks seep into the Web through many ports.
  21. {FIN}In a world where social aesthetics and participation are becoming the watchwords of the day, these are just some questions to consider.