Monday, November 26, 2007

Museum of Fine Arts, Boston


Today's activity asks you think your way outside of the boxes of interpretation, and combine the skills of interpretation we practiced during our last trip to the MFA with ideas about how the possibilities offered by digital media can create new ways of seeing.

Discuss each question with your partner.

1) Go to the Trustman Galleries to the Special Exhibition “Drawing: A Broader Definition.” First, isolate one work and develop an interpretation of its meaning. Then consider how the exhibition provides a context for interpreting that piece by the way it groups the pieces. With your partner, discuss how the individual piece is related to the larger work, and how isolating it or seeing it in context changes your interpretation. Consider how the works are displayed in the installation space as well as the larger image they make up when you see them together.

2) Now go to another gallery in the museum and choose an individual work. With your partner, offer an interpretation of the work.

3) Now shift your attention to what is on either side (or around) the work you chose for #2. How does looking at the work in the context provided by its display in the museum suggest new interpretations? Take a picture of the works if you have a camera phone.

4) Then move your attention to the gallery the work is in. How does the gallery as a whole provide a context that creates new interpretations? Or do the contexts limit interpretations?

5) This is the biggest leap you will have to make, and indeed it does take you outside the boxes of the frame, the wall, the gallery, the museum and into the imaginary realm of cyberspace, where physical proximity doesn’t matter, but the connections or links between things do. In the book Interface Culture : How New Technology Transforms the Way We Create and Communicate, Steven Johnson explains, “As the word suggests, a link is a way of drawing connections between things, a way of forging semantic relationships” (Steven Johnson 492). How might the work you chose for #2 be linked to other works in the museum? Think of 2 or 3 links, and draw a diagram of them. Then, later, write a journal entry that explains the new interpretations that can be made by the connections your links suggest. How are they different (or not) from the connections created by the exhibitions in the museum? Next week, post your entry on our class blog.

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