InterCommunication No.15 1996


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

The area of greatest potential in the new would order is in developing new art forms which exploit the possibilities of the medium itself. "We think curatorial skills and the intellectual way we think about visual disciplines is what our product is," says David M. GALLIGAN, administrative director of Walker Art Center in Minneapolis. "And that product is susceptible to translation over the electronic media, and that's not simply a matter of reproducing objects."
The Walker recently premiered media artist Shu Lea CHEANG's multimedia interactive video installation, "Bowling Alley." Says GALLIGAN, "It's an enormously complicated work. She's a terrific artist, and one of the first who is looking at--what are the distinctive properties of this medium; what can it do that video can't, that television can't. These formal questions will have startling results."
The Whitney recently launched its first project produced specifically for the Web. Conceptual artist Lowell DARLING, a pioneer of the correspondence art movement, presents his Hollywood Archaeology archives. Says ROSS, "Darling is the perfect Web artist, as the Web offers us the chance to move freely through his world of real and imagined relationships in the comfort of our virtual project space."
GALLIGAN accepts that technology will prompt "huge shifts" in society. He is, however, nonplused. What technology offers, he says is art for "the huge number of people in the world for whom this (on-site museum) experience is not possible."
What technology will not do, at least not in any significant way, is change the physical space of the traditional museum setting. "We're only five years away from the 21st century," says SHESTACK. "We're stuck with the buildings we have, the galleries and the configurations." Museum professionals, he says, "want a relatively neutral space in which a work of art is enhanced and allowed to speak for itself. I personally believe very strongly in keeping interpretation discreet from works of art."
"As a profession museums exist to preserve art and culture," concludes GALLIGAN. "A big part is in preserving the objects themselves. I don't see that going away. Technology lets us be much more accessible, reach a bigger audience.
"It's very exciting, and brings our mission more to the center stage of our lives. That's where we want it to be."


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