InterCommunication No.15 1996


High Tech, Museums, and the New Visual Literacy 4/5

Alan SHESTACK, however, having studied London's experience, would take issue: "Frankly, we found that London's Micro Gallery encourages people to look at the original. The Micro Gallery experience is to aid and abet one of the main goals of the museum which is to get people communing with originals."
ROSS is also committed to using technology to engage audiences. He sees CD-ROMs and Web sites playing over greater roles in effective disseminating of culture to the masses. The Whitney has an active on-line presence, unique from other museums in that it developed its Home Page on ECHO, a New York-based on-line service which allows for two-way communication. ECHO's (East Coast Hangout) [*6] founder Stacy HORN considers the service "the arts and cultural stop along the information superhighway" [*7]. The New York Times calls ECHO "an electronic salon." ROSS himself hosts "The Whitney Museum's Conference on American Art," a live chat format.
In addition, the Whitney has just completed its second CD-ROM, "Beat Culture and the New America," a hands-on journey to the streets, concert halls, galleries, coffee houses and night clubs of America during the 50s to mid-60s. "It's the most interesting, cleverest, best CD I've ever seen," says ROSS, adding that producer John CARLIN of the Red Hot Organization "found what he was born to do."
And that's key. "Curators of the 21st century are going to have to be literate in this area," says ROSS of exhibition by micro-chip, "in the same way that today's curators need to understand the print media. But I wouldn't say we're anywhere near the time when one would substitute for the other."