Recent Comments

Laura Beltz Imaoka

Fascinating post! It’s amazing that this tour survives via these virtual fragments and it’s interesting to think about what they accomplish in terms of fan’s emotional capital. For those who once visited the exhibit, their memories are reconstructed through them, while those who never visited, they formulate ideas of what it must have been like; a desire for something lost to history. And while the interactivity is lost in terms of exploring the actual place of the original tour, these virtual memories (perhaps this is what they become for everyone) are shared amongst the fans as another form of interaction. Several layers of things to think about!

Laura Beltz Imaoka

This is a fascinating question, and while I am unsure of Google’s future intentions, it does make one wonder whether a painting, materially 2-Dimensions, is necessarily suited to be viewed in 3-D. Should a flat painted image of a painter-induced 3-D landscape be adjusted to pop out of our computer screens to further prod that imaginative spatial wandering that our minds already do when looking at it? While all the “improvements” Google Art Project supposedly accomplishes, would this improvement ultimately fall into an unrealistic experience which future tourists know they wouldn’t have? Perhaps there’s a necessary balance Google needs to maintain in order to “sell” experiences that easily traverse from online to offline. One can imagine the 3-D technology being more readily applied to the Street View tours of the museum’s corridors, however.

Laura Beltz Imaoka

Those are excellent queries that expand into the digital realm of virtual exhibit tours, which complicate them in interesting ways. Undoubtedly, specific tourist cities like Paris and New York cannot be disconnected from their art collections. But are virtual tours diminishing that connection anymore than traditional travelling exhibits that, for example, have taken Van Gogh’s work to Beijing? I think it might be interesting to examine the mythos surrounding a specific city’s art collection through their tourism discourse, i.e. how guidebooks talk about it, and compare it to that of travelling art exhibitions and online virtual exhibits. I would suspect that place, despite the art’s temporary or virtual disconnection from it, continues to hold some importance. Definitely something to look into!

Ian Peters

A very interesting post, Laura. This is a case study that truly illustrates the potential strengths and weaknesses of online curation. Your observation regarding being relegated to pre-determined views, explore fragments of images, and that the entire experience is contextualized by an advertiser. In many ways this video seems to try and "sell" this experience as being, in some ways, better than the real thing (rather than merely enhancing it) due to your ability to explore additional meta data relating to the works of art, and get even "closer" to the works than in real life and observe them in greater detail. At the same time, as you point out, it could serve as a means of encouraging future travel by enhancing existing museum experiences. 

One thing that continues to be absent in all virtual tours (including this one) is a lack of dimension when it comes to exploring the enhanced details. While you can see the details in Van Gogh’s brushstrokes, the detail is rendered 2-dimensional. While there is rising interest in 3-dimensional television sets, I have been surprised that this technology hasn’t been as fully explored within virtual tourism contexts. Given your observation that Google is an advertising company and that such technology can, in turn, attract future tourists to specific locations, do you think that Google (or similar companies) will ever endeavor to find new ways of adding actual 3-dimensional detail to these works of art? Would such an endeavor potentially hurt their ability to "sell" the site for future tourists or act as a means of further encouragement?

Mabel Rosenheck

This is great stuff! One of the things I’m really interested in is how the museum relates to its physical/geographic surroundings, how an institution like the Museum of Modern Art is linked to the city of New York and both the everyday lives of urban residents and the tourists experience of the city. How does the meaning of Van Gogh change by viewing his 20 most famous paintings across the world versus viewing his paintings in context of the New York (or London or Paris) art world? How is it different viewing an artits’s work his home city or country versus abroad? And depending on the artist, these questions can become more and more complex. Think of someone like Warhol, how he’s linked to New York and how that link is encouraged by something like the guide book that came out last year with Manhattan Warhol tours. Lots of great questions at stake here. 

Roger Whitson

Laurie, 

This post is really fascinating. My immediate response would be to bring up an interesting conversation I was having with a group of comics fans about the lack of original "canonical" characters created in recent years. Part of the issue is the dominance of DC and Marvel and their pretty conservative approach to character creation. But one person mentioned that the original characters are not being created in comics, but rather in video games. I wonder if the same kind of issue about attribution w/ comics will play out if video games (I’m thinking of Halo or the more recent DC Universe online game) are adapted into comics form. 

Ian Peters

A very interesting response, Jeremy. Your idea of contextualizing interactive media as experiential acts rather than archives is intriguing. Material culture studies has frequently explored the ways we contextualize spaces (architecture, etc) in relation to the artifacts held within, and any curatorial decisions made in the preservation (or recreation) of experiencing that artifact or space is itself a highly mediated act. Choosing the term "act" over "archive" is essential when exploring how a museum or experience is constructed through acts of curation. The construction of interactive media is itself dependent on curatorial decisions that shape our experience of it. In some ways, endeavors like the Virtual Tour are acts of re-curation as we are forced to transfer the physical to the virtual.

Your comparison to documentary filmmaking is an important one as it draws attention to the fact that despite the limited degree of interactivity afforded to those exploring the Virtual Tour, visitors are still dependent upon fixed vantage points (with the benefit of some additional control through the Panorama player). Even if we were to construct a full-explorable virtual environment of these experiences where the visitor can move freely within the space (such as a virtual world recreation of it), the invisibile documentarian/curator would still have a presence as they are the ones who constructed the recreation and shaped our perceptions of it due to the "camera" that determines our view.

The questions I am therefore left with are centered on whether or not there is a difference between a documentarian and a curator if media is used to record/recreate an interactive space, and how the concept of visitor then needs to be altered due to differences in experiential mediation?

Jeremy Groskopf

As a historian, my personal techno-utopian fantasy has always been that 3-D digital preservation would be the great leap forward, preserving experiences rather than just artifacts.  But your notion that digital preservation is a second life - and a pale shadow at that - is a reminder that an experience, in interactive media, is itself an artifact.

I am thinking of Werner Herzog’s film "Cave of Forgotten Dreams."  Though it seems Herzog’s intent, with the use of 3-D cameras, was to preserve the perpetually endangered historical cave, what he actually preserved was his own experiencing of the mystery of the cave: his vantage point, his questions, etc.  And, much like your point about "Star Trek: The Experience," Herzog’s film also requires preservation and continued distribution.

Perhaps we must contextualize interactive media - even historical oriented ones - as ‘acts’ rather than ‘archives.’  Not the preservation of the thing itself, but one experience of that thing?  Much like constructing a documentary to pretend that the filmmaker is not present, perhaps the utopian fantasy of interactivity (complete without absent author) is encouraging us to believe that digital archives are less limited and individual than they truly are?

Horang - Bongcheon-Dong
Mark Sample
It Moves

Laurie, I’m glad you brought in the idea of videogames. Zach’s example already made me think of Eternal Darkness, where the player’s controller is overtaken by the game at some points. As my subject line suggests, I wonder if we can think of similar kind of mechanics in digital comics as "ludic comics." But it’s not quite a game and not quite interactive, so maybe ludic isn’t the right term for this Korean webcomic.

Horang - Bongcheon-Dong
Roger Whitson
It Moves

This is a fascinating complication of the discussions we’ve had this week. I would love to see how taking over the scroll function (or the touch screen) could create separate effects unique to digital environments.

Webcomics are an interesting situation, since they are (as you say) dependent upon digital distribution as a funding model. Is there a way to characterize the difference between digital technology as part of the reading experience of a comic, digital technology as a fundamental mediator of comics distribution and community, and digital technology as something a large publisher adopts with the expectation that profits will be larger than print comics? 

I also feel that webcomics themselves help solve the problem Katherine Tanski mentioned about the need for some kind of digitally-mediated comic book shop.