(inter)face of Creation|Curation in the realm of Digital

Technology doesn’t always operate on the innovations our perspective. Sometimes, our inspiration to innovate comes after we look at old life through new frames| new apparatus |new tools. For instance a pencil may have been a tool created for drawing, but it is now also a thing to hold ponytails, to untie knots, to loosen braids, a weapon of self defense, etc.  And still, some of us are of the belief that humans are always (and certainly) subject to technology, and never objects of the technology; i.e always moving the tool and never being moved by the tool.

Sitting in the Rotherwas room of Amherst College’s Mead Museum, in the midst of Kota Ezawa’s lightbox reimagining of the 1990 Gardner museum heist, I speak to Emily Lankiewicz, Jocelyn Edens and Sara Smith about the potential dangers and existing pleasures of this kind of mental framework where humans are always subject and tools are certainly object.

Through the ontological lens of the word “art,” the four of us discuss what it means to grapple with the terms “creation,” “collection” and “curation,” knowing that the realm of the digital is an electric, potent, source of creativity and a home for innovation that is not yet “historical”? What is the (inter)face of Art, in the realm of the digital?

Emily Lankiewicz who is a Mount Holyoke graduate and a 5college Digital Humanities Fellow has been using the method of photogrammetry to put historic artworks on a new pedestal that doesn’t place them above our line of sight, but instead, allows us have control over the ways we want to witness objects we may not be allowed to touch. Sara Smith is archivist and creator which puts her in a unique position to talk about creation and curation as both beginnings of creative journeys. At Amherst College, she is the subject librarian for Architectural Studies, Art & the History of Art, European Studies, Film and Media Studies, and Theater and Dance,. During the podcast, we talk about one of her ongoing shows called Orphaned Images: For over 20 years, she has been buying collections of slides from yard sales and thrift stores. Many of these collections are carefully labeled and organized and easily lend themselves to newly imagined narratives. And so she invites interested people to submit stories that are then turned into slide show presentations. I’m also with Jocelyn Edens, the curator of disruptive shows like Codes of Conduct and In each hand I keep each of my eyes. Edens is the Kress Curatorial Fellow at Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts, where she supports the Institute for Curatorial Practice and digital platforms for curating.

“Art”, as one word, has a face that floats around our consciousness as something specific yet fluid. When asked to define art, some of us don’t really know what to say. Yet, if we are faced with a piece of work, and asked to rate it as good art or bad art, we might do better. With grains of salt, I say it is often easier for us to look at something and think “this is great” or “this is trash,” than to burst into an articulate monologue explaining what art is and why it is a word that carries controversy whenever it attaches itself to anything. “Art” may seem all encompassing but we do not easily say that everything is art. How come? Like the oxymoronic civil servant in Cartoon Network’s Sheep in the Big City, art seems to be “General Specific,” see-sawing in betweens

Together, the four of us try to understand where this distinction between “art” and ‘technology” live; If the distinction is real; and if “real” is a useful word to place beside “art” or “digital”. To build an intellectual base for our discussion, I begin the podcast with an excerpt from Zahid Chaudhary’s book Afterimage of Empire on “The Perceptual Apparatus” :

 

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