Tag Archives: online media

The State of Curation and Criticism

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.

Ink on Their Fingers

state of play

Looking for a nice Hollywood fix a few weekends ago, I watched State of Play and enjoyed seeing a familiar subject come up in the plot line: the dichotomy between online and print journalism. At the beginning of the film, the seasoned reporter (Russell Crowe) is introduced to the reporter in charge of the newspaper’s blog. A young woman who is capable and eager, but doesn’t have the personal connections and experience of Crowe. And she never has a pen on hand. The plot thickens thanks to their investigative reporting that does not involve scouring the internet. Along the way, the eyes of the blogger are opened to see that ‘real reporting’ is about all the ‘offline’ work. As they are about the send their big story to print, Crowe asks his learning blogger if she’s sorry it’s not breaking online. She responds, “I figure when people read a story like this, they should get some ink on their fingers.”

While a big proponent of sustaining journalism in all its forms, I think many of the discussions around the death of print journalism miss the point precisely because they put online and print in two opposing corners. Perhaps State of Play is an extreme example, but it’s not alone. Online and print are not mutually exclusive, but obviously complement each other on many levels. Online content isn’t driving print to its death, but it does reflect changing habits of media consumption. Today content is more dynamic, coming to us non-stop from a vast array of sources. Rather than relying on one media source, we are now the creators of our own information circuit. Sure, the staggering loss of revenue in the newspaper industry is very real. But I believe this changing media landscape is prompting print to undergo an evolution, as it takes a cue from online content. And I hope that it, in turn, revitalizes some of the elements that give print so much value.