Individuals from various fields including art, design, film, and academia came together Saturday at the 'you, me and everyone we know is a curator' symposium, organized by the Graphic Design Museum and concepted by Sophie Krier and Mieke Gerritzen. The symposium brought into question how the ever-growing amount and influence of online content redefines what curation and criticism means today.
The starting point was the space and stage created online. Curators today bear witness to the shift of influence: From yesterday, where traditional institutions and experts filter the imagery, essays, videos, and other content, bringing the crème de la crème to life and resigning the rest to oblivion. To today, where the democratization of production and distribution has resulted in a deluge of online content and raised the question of quality control. How can one determine quality in an online environment when distribution is open to the masses? How does this influence the traditional perception of art, writing, and content in general? What new relationships are forged? How do old relationships change, adapt, and evolve? What are the results? Here, I highlight two speakers to give an impression of the discussion that took place:
Design critic Rick Poynor took a look at the blogosphere to determine the current state of design criticism in this unique environment. His focus was on the power and presence of the individual writer, who develops a coherent and consistent viewpoint over time. He began by retracing the changing yet extant influence of print media, design magazines, and journals, and their eventual migration to blogs, whether exclusively or additionally. He then looked at the emergence of new platforms for design writing: institutions with journals published online, museums creating online content, and academic programs.
When it came to the question of whether the online curator was a critic, Poynor argued against the belief that selection alone can be an act of criticism. He described the common presentation of a blog ‘astonishingly bare’ compared to where we came from. He used Space Collective as an example of how a blog can create a visual criticism, a ‘new semantics of argument based on the image’. When it comes to writers though, he found most promise in the dedication to quality writing and the interaction between print media and online content.
Julia Noordegraaf discussed ‘performing archival material online’ through the case study Celluloid Remix, a contest sponsored by the Dutch Filmmuseum. Noordegraaf spotlighted the results and effects that come about when audio-visual material is taken from its original context and reframed, which can happen ad infinitum in an online environment. Noordegraaf concluded that the role of the archivist or curator today will look more like an editor, who maintains information streams, check sources, edits input, and designs interfaces to facilitate interaction between the content and the user.
Biographies and information about all speakers can be found here.