Curatorial Synopsis

Before taking this class I had no clue what a curator or a docent really was in terms of job or title. I had only a marginal understanding of what an exhibit really entailed and even less than that about what it really took to host one. Throughout the class I learned through action what it meant to be a curator, a docent, and what kind of work went into executing and properly hosting a successful exhibit. Beyond that my understanding of what an exhibit was and even what art was expanded exponentially. I participated in hosting the 2016 Game Changers by being a docent and a curator, and am currently deeply involved in the 2016 ELO Conference and Media Arts Festival. Both of these have given me first hand experience in being a curator. I have also attempted to document my own experiences throughout the class on my personal WordPress site which is essentially the entire essence of digital curation.

The way the class was organized allowed a unique method of learning from multiple perspectives on what it means to be a curator. As previously mentioned there were the two exhibits in which all students contributed and gained first hand experience about curation and exhibitions. Secondly there was a series of analytical writing assignments in which we were all asked to look at and discuss an archived electronic literature exhibit, and relate concepts we learned from two separate texts. Finally the two texts we were asked to read, Ten Fundamental Questions of Curating by Jens Hoffmann and Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Curating by Hans Ulrich Obrist, each gave a decidedly unique description of curation.

The first book, Ten Fundamental Questions of Curating, answers as the title suggests ten important questions about curation. This book was particularly helpful in allowing me to conceptualize the idea of curation because of its straight forward format. The title of each chapter presents a question while the content of the chapter presents an interpretation of what an appropriate answer might be. While the answers and the questions are all somewhat open ended and equally open to interpretation, the book makes a point to answer each question. The second book however, Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Curating, took the form of a series of interviews which drifted through a series of topics. This book while entertaining was a little harder to follow, and thusly taught me a little bit less effectively. All thing considered though, where I learned the most was from the discussions brought on by Hans Ulrich Obrist’s book.

In both books the authors discuss what constitutes art, which is one of the most fundemental questions in determining what an exhibit is and what it means to be a curator. In the book Ten Fundamental Questions of Curating the author says this about art, Truly of a nonsensical nature, art poses active resistance to description and to interpretation. In front if the impossibility of total inadequacy between the language and the things, language kills the matter.” This to me was probably the best quote from the first book, as well as the best answer to the question “what is art?” In another chapter this quote is used to define an exhibition and in a sense what it means to curate, “The critical consensus today would seem to be that an exhibition is, in the most basic terms, an organized presentation of a selection of items to a public” The answers from this book are easy to find and simple to digest making it an effective tool.

This class taught me a lot about what it means to be a curator as well as what the future may hold for curators and exhibitions. “My laptop, an enfolded monster, holds a polyphony of futures.”


Hoffmann, Jens. Ten Fundamental Questions of Curating. N.p.: n.p., n.d. Print.

Obrist, Hans Ulrich, and April Elizabeth. Lamm. Everything You Always Wanted to Know about Curating: But Were Afraid to Ask. Berlin: Sternberg, 2011. Print.

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Can Exhibitions Be Collected?

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Inventory #4

New Text was an exhibit in 2015 curated by Dene Grigar about “the literary and artistic explorations into what It means to read, write, and create,” (Grigar). The exhibit, now hosted online, features a wide variety of multimedia electronic literature by various artists and authors. Among these works is a piece called Whispering Galleries in which viewers see themselves distorted on a screen amongst seemingly random glowing text from a diary out of 1984. The viewer is able to sweep dust off the virtual screen with their hand gestures. The Deletionist, another piece from the exhibit, is a system that allows viewers to automatically produce an erasure poem from any web page the view decides to access. Both of these pieces of art allow the viewer to experience something new with little to know guidance about how they should react to it.

In Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Curating, Hans Ulrich Obrist talks at length about how in exhibits “The Enemies Are Those Audio Guides.” He explains that anytime visitors to exhibits are shown or told what something is or how to react to it their ability to truly connect with the art is hindered. As previously mentioned many of the installations and art pieces included in the New Text exhibit were open to the extent that the viewers were able to freely interact with them in an unguided fashion. Orbits argues that audio guides are like fast lanes trying to hurry people into reaching the correct conclusion or lear the correct lesson. He emphasizes a lament for prescribed conclusions in modern exhibits where people are guided through the installations. Like Obrist and as is captured in the New Text exhibit “It’s very important to inject experiences of slowness, so I think curating exhibits is also about having slow lanes—not only fast lanes.” (Obrist, 92) This concept is also a throwback to a comment made earlier in the book about how it is better to have fewer people spend more time in an exhibit than it is to have more people rush through it.

The main point of exhibits like this is to entice people into spending time with the exhibit and its installations. The New Text exhibit as well as some of the other multimedia exhibits curated by Dene Grigar in the recent past are great examples of this drive towards true and inspired visitor interactions.


Unrich Obrist, Hans. Everything You Always Wanted To Know About Curating. Sternberg. Print.

Grigar, Dene. New Text. 2015. Web. 31 Mar. 2016. <>.

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Inventory #3

In this post I will be discussing the archived site for Transpoetica, “The Future is a Dog,” by Hans Ulrich Obrist, and finally where I see the connection between the two. In order to accomplish this I will be pulling content from both the Transpoetica website and Hans Obrist’s book. A few things may or may not be taken out of context, but as with art I believe it is ok to repurpose something in the creation of something new so long as credit is given to the original artist or author.

Transpoetica was an exhibit in 2014 which utilized the works of Stephanie Strickland to highlight the relationship between linguistics and technology. The exhibit showed that poetry in a digital form could become an entirely new form of art than that same poetry on a piece of paper.

This exhibit attempts to juxtapose the historic with the new and increasingly exciting marriage of art with technology, the lyrical with the mathematical. Poetic rhythms intermingle with scientific algorithms creating an adventurous trek through the time line of technogenesis” (Josephine Sanders, Transpoetica)

To me this quote means that the show itself was created by people who were excited about the relationship between art and technology and excited even more so by the potential future of digital art. The exhibit and the now archived website allow the general public to experience the excitement of all those involved in putting together both the art and the exhibit.

In interacting with some of the electronic poetry on the Transpoetica website I came across a piece called “slippingglimpse,” in which I experienced a juxtaposition between the power and beauty of nature and the elegance of the written word. This poem paired the written word with the user’s choice of ten different nature scenes. The high quality video made the text very difficult to read, but because of the font selected in the poem I have to believe that was intentional. This poem highlighted the ephemerality anything man-made against the endless beauty of mother nature.

In the second chapter of Hans Ulrich Obrist’s book, Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Curating, titled “The Future is a Dog,” Obrist asks a number of artists “what is the future of art?” To which he gets a number of very interesting answers, none of which I think are necessary in this context or even in the context of the book. In a way I think that Obrist just wanted to show how open the future could be to suggestions by those making it. I believe Obrist himself answered the question best almost unintentionally in a quote I will take hugely out of context.

My laptop, an enfolded monster, holds a polyphony of futures.” (Obrist, 22)

This quote is beautifully simple. To me it emphasizes not only the fact that there will be many futures, but also the fact that myself and others will be interacting with them on various digital devices. In this quote Obrist was really only referring to the messages he was getting from those to whom he had asked the question.

The future is endless and will be created constantly by people excited about exploring the affordances of new technology and/or those excited about appreciating more classic art forms in a modern world. The future is many things: A harsh mistress, a poem in an art exhibit that has yet to be made, and yes even a dog.


Obrist, Hans Ulrich, and April Elizabeth. Lamm. Everything You Always Wanted to Know about Curating: But Were Afraid to Ask. Berlin: Sternberg, 2011. Print.

“TransPoeticaWorks by Stephanie Strickland.” TransPoetica: A Stephanie Strickland Retrospective:. N.p., n.d. Web. <>.

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Comments on Inventory #2

Comment on Madeline’s post:

I appreciate your connection with the concepts of pleasure from the text and the representations of human emotion in the Anthropoetry exhibit. I think the points you make about the relationship between the play of the digital poetry pieces and the concept of pleasure is well thought out. Since Anthropoetry focuses on the human condition and human emotions you were wise to make the connection you did. In all honesty I kind of wish I had thought about that as well.

Comment on Amy’s post:

Amy, I agree with the importance of the curator in an exhibit like this. Because the poetry is digital the organization of categories and themes makes the physical layout of the exhibit more understandable. Although it drives me a little bit crazy how the author seems to struggle in defining what a curator is I believe you utilized the context of the chapter well in your post. Good job.

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Inventory #2

Anthropoetry was a multimedia poetry exhibit in 2014 that utilized a number of international artists to promote a theme of humanity and of emotion. The exhibit celebrated modernity and variety in poetry including new forms of visual and digital art.

With art constantly evolving it is important to expose the public to new forms of art in new ways whenever possible. This in a way can validate modern forms of art by simply making the public aware of their existence as well as showing them how to appreciate them. Anthropoetry focuses on new digital poetry specifically, which blurs the lines in poetry between literary art and visual digital art. But when dealing with the digital, often lacking much of a physical presence, what exactly is an exhibition? “The critical consensus today would seem to be that an exhibition is, in the most basic terms, an organized presentation of a selection of items to a public,” (p 74).

With a digital art form curation becomes even more important, as the art itself has no physical presence but is presented on a computer. In that way the exhibit must utilize the computers and the space around them in a way that fits with the theme of the art while motivating the public to interact with as much of the art as possible.


Hoffmann, Jens. Ten Fundamental Questions of Curating. N.p.: n.p., n.d. Print.

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Invisible Inc. Game Research

Invisible Inc. Game Research

Basic information

Name: Invisible Inc.

Release Date: May 12, 2015

Available on: Steam (for Mac or PC)

Genre(s): Action, Indie, Strategy

Developer(s): Klei Entertainment

Publisher(s): Klei Entertainment

Version(s): Invisible Inc., Invisible Inc. Contingency Plan,

Price: $19.99 (on sale $9.99)

ESRB: RP (Rating Pending, may contain content not appropriate for children)


More in-depth information

Rating Info: This game contains a fair amount of cartoon violence including explosives and firearms. For this reason I believe the game should be rated T for Teen.

Summary: Invisible Inc. is a game set in the year 2074 in a world where the governments have been overthrown by mega-corporations who rule with overwhelming power. Invisible Inc. is a private intelligence agency that who’s facilities and and agents are almost entirely destroyed in an attack by the mega-corporations. Through infiltration the now rogue group of spies aims to take out the mega-corporations from within. The game is turn-based, and is based on the popular the turn-based alien combat series X-Com. The main characters, the few remaining members of Invisible Inc., utilize a powerful AI system called Incognita to hack into the mega-corporations defenses. The player is able to upgrade and customize Invisible’s agents as well as Incognita’s hacking abilities in order to take on harder and harder infiltration missions, each of which pushes the narrative further along.

This game re-invents storytelling through it’s unique turn-based gameplay in which the player must complete a series of randomly generated missions in order to progress the story. With each mission the player passes a small amount of the story is revealed through a textual dialogue with Invisible Inc. As the missions are completed time passes and with each passing day the player is shown a video that further progresses the storyline. Separate from the story line the player is given the ability to customize his agents as well as the Incognita program. As the player levels up their characters they are able to unlock new agents each of which add a new element of plot to the overall story.

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Inventory #1

Based on what I have seen of last year’s Game Changers event it really challenged the concept of what art is. Art is ever-changing and more so art is defined by the public that views it. In the case of Game Changers, a long existing form of media was displayed in a way that showcased its’ innovations through the ages. While video games are not always viewed as an art form, the Game Changers show presented them in such a way that the viewing public might have to acknowledge their artistic impact on media and on popular culture as a whole.

In the book Ten Fundamental Questions of Curating, the chapter titled “What is Art?” presents a somewhat cynical view about the future of art. This view is interpreted from Hegel who suggested that art itself is in a way coming to an end. However, reading between the lines there is a lighter message that I believe stands true.

“Truly of a nonsensical nature, art poses active resistance to description and to interpretation. In front if the impossibility of total inadequacy between the language and the things, language kills the matter.”

To me this means that it is not the art that is dying, but rather our definition of art that is failing to capture the essence of its life. As the future becomes the present more and more forms of media and art are created, all of which hold intricate meaning to the people who connect with them. I do not believe that art is dying, I believe it is just becoming impossible to define.

“art ends and ends, and yet it continues to be there.”

Game Changers takes pieces of pop culture and packages them in a way that allows for the public to see not only what they have meant in the past, but also how they have shaped the present. Video games like all other art forms have evolved alongside the societies which created them. In this way video games are as much an art form as drawings and paintings. Art is a reflection of the society around it and the mind that helps to create it. For that reason alone art and its’ definition must constantly evolve to encompass the changing nature of humanity and of popular culture.

“Art is the world talking back. But not everyone is ready to hear or even to notice.”

While there will always be a debate about what is or is not art, a lack of a things recognition as art cannot definitively mean that thing is not art. Years in the future that thing might reveal a hidden meaning or insight that was not visible to those viewing it previously.

In this way I think that Game Changers serves to present a unique perspective on how video games have impacted the current state of media, as well as why they should be respected as an art form.

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A Captain’s Intro

Hello all and welcome to my Captain’s Log. Here you will find a number of entries detailing my time spent in Madame Grigar’s Digital Curation class.

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