September 4, 2009

Technology in Museums: Good or Bad?

Over at the Technology in the Arts blog, there's a cool recent post that questions how technology is affecting museum visitors, whether more in a positive or negative way. From Tech in the Arts:
Technology removes the necessity for personal, visceral interpretation of a piece; as quickly as a viewer can form an impression he can access a wealth of information that competes with (or “legitimizes”) his instinctive understanding. While I am a testament to the fact that background information can completely sway the experience of viewing a certain piece, and I have grown to love certain pieces because of what I have later learned about the artist, historical context, and so forth, I don’t know that I think the museum experience should necessarily be a lesson ABOUT the art.

Shouldn’t the learning be a supplement to the going? I think about the symphony, or ballet, or opera, or theater–the audience may have some information in their program to lend insight into plot, composer, musicians, and so forth, but I would be surprised if I were surrounded by audience members simultaneously listening to a recording that said, “Now, this movement here represents…”

By techologizing the experience of visual art, are we pandering to a society that wants experience for the sake of having done it, wants to know what to think without forming a decision, that needs to have as much information as possible in as little time as possible? Are we leading people to experience art the same way they experience a trip: interpreted by GPS rather than orienting themselves in their world, figuring it out from a map, appreciating the journey?
Keep reading at TitA...

Although the article provides no real answer either way, it is a nice read that makes you think and pick a side about the controversy over whether cameras and other technology helps or detracts from the interaction of "visual" art. Comment below on your thoughts if you feel inclined.

(Photo above by moirabot)

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