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Is this the way museumgoers now look at art?

post #1 of 22
Thread Starter 
Celebrated MLK say w/ a trip to the MOMA. Not too crowded, but I was amazed that every other person was snapping away w/ their cell phones. Anything remotely recognizable was surrounded by a phalanx of phone-wielding cretins - WTF?
post #2 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by romafan View Post
Celebrated MLK say w/ a trip to the MOMA. Not too crowded, but I was amazed that every other person was snapping away w/ their cell phones. Anything remotely recognizable was surrounded by a phalanx of phone-wielding cretins - WTF?
heh, it was the same at the Louvre around the Mona Lisa - last time I was there. Me, I took a picture of the crowd around it with their cameras held overhead. It was pretty comical.
post #3 of 22
I thought camera's weren't allowed in museums. You would think there would be someone watching over the more notable pieces.
post #4 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by BrianVarick View Post
I thought camera's weren't allowed in museums. You would think there would be someone watching over the more notable pieces.

No flash, but you can take cell phone pics. Not sure why people do it - it's not as if there is a dearth of images of the Mona Lisa out there.
post #5 of 22
It's no different from how museumgoers have ever looked at art. 99% of people aren't going because they love art or want to experience art, they're going because it's a cultured thing you're supposed to do every once in a while, especially if you're a tourist. The only difference between now and, say, 30 years ago, is that instead of taking a photo for your slide show for friends when you get back is that you take a cell phone shot and post it in your Twitter feed or whatever.
post #6 of 22
I agree. This is an idiotic phenomenon, and it extends far beyond taking photos of art.

People seem too involved in making bad recordings or memorable moments than experiencing the moment itself.

Filming the birth of your own child comes to mind. It's one of the most profound experiences you can have not only as a man, but as a mammal...yet there are some people who insist on seeing it through the viewfinder of a camera.
post #7 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by Thomas View Post
Me, I took a picture of the crowd around it with their cameras held overhead. It was pretty comical.

Several days later Murray asked me about a tourist attraction known as the most photographed barn in America. We drove 22 miles into the country around Farmington. There were meadows and apple orchards. White fences trailed through the rolling fields. Soon the signs started appearing. THE MOST PHOTOGRAPHED BARN IN AMERICA. We counted five signs before we reached the site. There were 40 cars and a tour bus in the makeshift lot. We walked along a cowpath to the slightly elevated spot set aside for viewing and photographing. All the people had cameras; some had tripods, telephoto lenses, filter kits. A man in a booth sold postcards and slides -- pictures of the barn taken from the elevated spot. We stood near a grove of trees and watched the photographers. Murray maintained a prolonged silence, occasionally scrawling some notes in a little book.

"No one sees the barn," he said finally.

A long silence followed.

"Once you've seen the signs about the barn, it becomes impossible to see the barn."

He fell silent once more. People with cameras left the elevated site, replaced by others.

We're not here to capture an image, we're here to maintain one. Every photograph reinforces the aura. Can you feel it, Jack? An accumulation of nameless energies."

There was an extended silence. The man in the booth sold postcards and slides.

"Being here is a kind of spiritual surrender. We see only what the others see. The thousands who were here in the past, those who will come in the future. We've agreed to be part of a collective perception. It literally colors our vision. A religious experience in a way, like all tourism."

Another silence ensued.

"They are taking pictures of taking pictures," he said.

He did not speak for a while. We listened to the incessant clicking of shutter release buttons, the rustling crank of levers that advanced the film.

"What was the barn like before it was photographed?" he said. "What did it look like, how was it different from the other barns, how was it similar to other barns?"
post #8 of 22
there's a series by some institutional critique photographer of people taking photos in museums. my favorite is a guy snapping a shot of the text description next to a Rodin statue
post #9 of 22
We All Have Photographic Memories
Quote:
For his third birthday, my son had a surf-themed party at a way too cold beach in San Francisco. I'm sure he had created a self-image of how he looked in his rash-guard and shades as he balanced on a freshly waxed, beach-bound longboard. Like most parents, I felt compelled to go paparazzi on my son and his friends from the second we unloaded the car. And because he is a child of the digital age, my son followed nearly every snap of the camera with the same request: "Can I see the picture?"

The instant my son looked at the image, his imagination-driven perception of himself was replaced by a digital reproduction of the moment he had just experienced.

During a presentation on happiness at the Ted Conference, Nobel laureate Daniel Kahneman makes a distinction between the experiencing self and the remembering self. Digital photography gives additional dominance to the remembering self. At his birthday party on the beach, my son almost leapfrogged over his realtime experience. He was no longer imagining what he looked like on that surf board. He was looking at what he looked like. The wave of emotions, senses and reactions that made up his initial experience were swept away by the undertow of a single sense: what his eyes saw on a two inch viewfinder.
post #10 of 22
Yeah...I never get it with the famous works. When are you going to look at this bad picture? I would think after your first vacation, you would figure it out that the photos you take of art in museums are all terrible and you will have no desire to look at them. It isn't like people are going to need photographic proof that you saw Guernica on your trip to Madrid--they will believe you.

I suppose a cell phone clip of the name-card and/or piece itself from some artist you are not familiar with makes sense. It is an easy way to mark down new artists to research when you get home.

Of course the worst offenders are the "checklist" tourists who walk into a museum, pick up the guide that lists all of the masterpieces they have on display and take a picture of each (oft while ignoring all other art). Lot of asian tourists in europe seem to roll this way.

At least people seem to have figured out that flashes damage paintings
post #11 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by mharwitt View Post
my favorite is a guy snapping a shot of the text description next to a Rodin statue

I've done this, mainly if it's an artist I'm unfamiliar with and want to remember the piece to research it later on. It's quicker to take a quick photo of the text card than it is to type it all into a memo.
post #12 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by v0rtex View Post
I've done this, mainly if it's an artist I'm unfamiliar with and want to remember the piece to research it later on. It's quicker to take a quick photo of the text card than it is to type it all into a memo.

that actually makes some sense. the series i mentioned is from the 80s, so the guy would have had to develop film and then go to the process of researching the artist at the library, or however people did research back then. 411 maybe.
post #13 of 22
it could also be that they're using google goggles to research info about the painting.
post #14 of 22
My dad actually takes pictures of himself standing before, say, the Days Inn San Diego. It's as if, when he returned home, no one would believe him when he said he had stayed there.
post #15 of 22
Pics or it didn't happen.

I just took a picture of me reading this thread so I can prove that I read this thread.
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