The visual aesthetic vs. experience
I particularily enjoyed the author’s reframing of curiosity cabinets as experiences rather than collections of objects in Bowry 2014. One of my favourite things about art, or just representation in general, is the discussion of the creater or collector’s pysche. The things that we collect, represent, create, in other words, the things that we make special say so much about us. We can use represented objects as a pleasurable way to see into each other’s minds, a task which normally we only do through conversation. Seeing curiosity cabinets through the lens of our desire to make sense of the natural and artifical world through categorization and comparison, I think frames these sites as processes or experiences, and unbinds them from being just an object in a cabinet.
A way of bridging experiences through time is an intruging creative project. It reminds me of moments where film makers will blend works of history with modern cultural references to invoke sensation rather than a visual or literal experience. For example, Baz Luhrmann’s used music from Jay-Z in the Great Gatsby (2013) instead of jazz music which would have been played at the time, to make the connection between how it feels to hear Jay-Z in 2013 and Jazz in 1922. Or the coming-of-age structure of Sofia Coppola’s Marie Antoinette (2006) to paint her lead as a teenaged girl.
If we were make a space which did for people now what curiousity cabinets did for people then, what would they look like? How do we make sense of the world through categorization and comparison? A Pinterest board comes to mind sooner than a cupboard of objects.
Feeling wary of efforts to optimize museums for pandemic restrictions
Perhaps this comment is too heavily influenced by my own fatigue around “the new normal” and all the ways that the world wants to change as a result of Covid-19. I see a lot of articles like these which ask us to consider how we might reshape museums and other public spaces to protect and prevent pandemics, but generally felt more compelled by the ideas in the reading ‘What is a museum”. The pandemic may have changed the way we look at public space, and added design considerations to their implementation, but in just one way. The work on redefining museums has begun long before our attention was drawn tightly to the issues of air and surface contamination. I would hate to see reactionary restrictions put in place, or too much focus being placed on digital mediums, without considering the vast array of values which also matter in the creation of the “new museum/unmuseum”. By treating pandemic restrictions as a problem to solve do we miss out on more out-of-the-box creative solutions which hollistically design spaces by our values, goals, and also modern constraints?