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LOVE

Had a fun time in New York last week. Stayed with Jack and Marisa. Below is not Jack. Below is Chris by Jack.

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We went to Christopher Anderson’s book launch for Capitolio. It was great to see it after recent reviews, heated debates (check out comments) questions and wot not. I don’t think the selection of the images was the best.

At the Metropolitan, Surface Tension: Photographs from the Permanent Collection was a pleasant whimsy into some mesmerizing works, notably Adam Fuss’ UNTITLED (1997) made by the metronome shimmers of snakes upon black dust upon white dust. Image Source: Cheim & Read

Fuss, Adam

The Met’s photography department was putting together the final touches on Robert Frank’s The Americans which opened this week. It was all hands to the pump as evidenced by besuited Malcolm Daniel – who I spied carrying large, heavy object (post?) behind a partition and into the exhibition space.

Egg and Cheese Bagel.

Over at the Museum of Modern Art, I was pleased to see Russell Lee‘s work Bulletin Board in Post Office Showing a Large Collection of “Wanted Men” Signs, Ames, Iowa (1936). Who doesn’t love a mug shot?

Lee, Russell, MoMa Bulletin BoardCRI_61685

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Bringing the practice of mapping of transgressions into the 21st century, the Spatial Design Lab from the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation at Columbia University exhibited its Million Dollar Blocks Project (2006).

Brooklyn. Million Dollar Blocks

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On Monday night I sat with Andrew Lichtenstein. We talked. Andrew recommended Brennan Linsley‘s work and was quite emphatic about the book ‘Concrete Mama‘. He also spoke highly of Max Kenner and the work at the Bard Prison Initiative

Tuesday, I met Emiliano Granado. We were first in contact over his San Quentin Giants pictures. We talked about many things including Trevor Paglen, Argentina, the Burke Gilman, and the Horticultural Society of New York, which recently lost Barbara Margolis who was an inspiring leader. Emiliano recommended Alessandra Sanguinetti‘s work.

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On Sunday, I’d been at the WTC construction site. There was some portraiture on display in a window. The space behind the window was closed but would usually be open. The photographs were easy on the eye.

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On my last night I checked out Steven Hirsch’s Courthouse Confessions.

That’s Matt Kelley looking at Steven’s work. He’s coordinator for Change.org Criminal Justice, online communications for the Innocence Project and all together nice bloke. Matt’s double identity is twittered and can be followed here and here.

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Hirsch takes street portraits of folk going to court, secures (in some ironic twist) a non-binding statement and then transcribes it verbatim to go with the portrait. Constantly moving the camera, Hirsch uses hard flash and distorted angles/zoom to depict these individuals as shape shifters; as anomalies. The fact Hirsch’s subjects (in most cases) seem alien to the logic of the courts – that any lessons arising from their cases are unlikely to effect sentencing laws in the future – should but be a source of disquiet for us as an audience.

Hirsch, Steven

One last thing. On Saturday, I saw John Baldessari sat outside a Grennwich Village coffeehouse, but I bottled saying anything. I’ve learnt that famous people abound in Manhattan and you see ’em everywhere.

Thanks to everyone who altered their orbits a little to coincide with mine.

Note: This one’s off topic, but I’ll be coming back with prison related visual critique sooner than you can say “Jack Lemon”.

The Computer History museum in Mountain View, California. Credit: David Glover

The Computer History museum in Mountain View, California. Credit: David Glover

How do museums and galleries use online media to promote themselves?

I have been required to think about “The Museum” and it’s engagement with public and web2.0 audiences recently. If you look about you’ll find really good uses and catastrophic uses of web2.0 by museums and galleries alike. I don’t want to beat up on small galleries for their ill-advised, tweeting non-personas nor criticise lackadaisical irregular blog posting; both of these activities are for the intern. I’d really complain if I thought someone was getting paid to stumble through blog posts and ideas after a full day educating outreach audiences.

I do think the MoMA and San Francisco MoMA are fair game though.

Let’s start with the good.

MoMA: A delicate, understated film-short, with good production values. Some might argue it’s over sentimental and panders to arty self obsessions, but the MoMA is the beacon of an art world, art market and art-as-brand that has Western obsessions about the object at its core. I’ll allow it to veil this truth and remould it as individual yearning.

Click on the image below to view the video at The Contact Sheet blog.

Still from MoMA's promotional video "I See"

Still from MoMA's promotional video "I See"

And now, to the bad.

SFMoMA: Apparently inspired by the White House launch of Obama coverage on Flickr, the San Francisco MoMA launched its own stalking eye upon director Neal Benezra. They call it Director Cam.

Benezra at press preview, being interviewed by Don Sanchez for ABC7, in the SFMoMA rooftop sculpture garden.

Benezra at press preview, being interviewed by Don Sanchez for ABC7, in the SFMoMA rooftop sculpture garden.

Now, I am all for transparency, informality, familiarity and all that, and, to be fair, SFMoMA has done this reasonably well with its other Flickr sets (although I’d prefer less high-society party coverage and more high-school outreach coverage).

However, Director Cam just rubs me the wrong way. I don’t want to see the privileged folk of the museum-world lording over its institutions, I want to see public audiences getting knee deep in collections & archives and mixing it up a bit. I want to see Flickr used as a means to entice people into the museum not as a mirror for already existing (and exclusive) engagements.

Neal talking with Exhibitions Design Manager / Chief Preparator Kent Roberts. With Chuck Schwab, chairman of the board of trustees (center) and Catherine Kuuskraa (right). In the background on the left wall you can just slightly see the new bridge commission, by Rosana Castrillo-Diaz.

Neal talking with Exhibitions Design Manager / Chief Preparator Kent Roberts. With Chuck Schwab, chairman of the board of trustees (center) and Catherine Kuuskraa (right). In the background on the left wall you can just slightly see the new bridge commission, by Rosana Castrillo-Diaz.

BLDGBLOG (via Twitter) this week called for an alternative narrative of the built environment.

As I understood this, it is a theoretical proposal that would include interviews and testimonies of electricians, security guards and the fixers that keep the nuts and bolts in place while arty self-obsessed types flit about amid well-maintained frameworks.

After the white-collar fraudulent dismantling of the city, there is no better time to call for an alternative version of urbanity. A blue-collar city narrative.

With these thoughts looming, it is not Benezra that interests me, rather Kent Roberts, Exhibitions Design Manager and Chief Preparator at SFMoMA. Bring on ‘Museum Preparator Cam’!

All of this throws up more unanswered questions about the role of new media in the operations of museums and galleries. Fortunately, I recently discovered Nina Simon’s Museum 2.0 blog which provides some riposte.

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Images. Computer History Museum by David Glover. As well as his Computer History Museum Set, you should check out his Byte Back Set.

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