Thursday, February 17, 2011

Keeping Up with the Jones.0

Of what use are museums when technology takes over completely? Will we bulldoze the art museums when the Internet age matures? Perhaps we will use the ghostly halls of washed-up museums to hold massive servers and supercomputers where digital memories of once-great pieces of art will be entombed forever.

Thankfully, we’re not there yet. But skeptics and hopefuls alike know the embittered war between the horny, slavering monster known as the Internet and those that prefer to stay in the “technological dark age” is already over. Yankees or Red Sox. East coast or west coast. Blondes or brunettes. We could have never imagined that the debate as to whether or not technology is good for us would join the list of great debates of modernity.

There is salvation at last though. The Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Brooklyn Museum are spearheading a peace operation between the two. Attempting to reach some sort of harmony, both the Met and the Brooklyn Museum are looking for ways to implement technology into the museum experience to attract patrons otherwise uninterested.

According to an article on the New York Times website, the Met has already created its first app to accompany one if its exhibits, which itself is a reflection of the times—collection of cool guitars, no biggie, even the Director of the Met called it a “teenager’s wet dream.” Times sure are changing. The Met is also looking to hook the entire 21-building compound up to Wi-Fi, allowing patrons to enjoy customized tours on personal electronic devices, depending on “levels of sophistication.” Please don’t rate my sophistication, Met.

The Brooklyn Museum is experimenting with the way viewers make snap distinctions of paintings with their new exhibit titled, “Split Second: Indian Paintings.” The premise would make Bill Gates warm inside and no, I’m not referring to the microchips that power him. Participants who signed up viewed a collection of paintings for seconds at a time and were asked to make a judgment about the quality of the painting based on what they noticed in that short span of time. The result: a final ten pieces were chosen based on the people’s choice. Ah, there is room for Internet critics after all.

At least some out there are making the effort to meet the demands set forth by a rampant technological age but who really knows what the future holds. For now, you can still enjoy a trip to the museum the way we have for decades. Take your time with it; walk aimlessly, allow yourself to get lost and feel awed, even stupid in the presence of genius. You know, unplug from it all.

And if you have to, go ahead, use technology to supplement your journey. At least you’re not sitting at your desk, looking at paintings on Google.

-Alex Clark

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