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Brainstorming Exhibition Ideas

Page history last edited by Kelly Porter 10 years, 10 months ago

Please share your random and less-random ideas here.  Put your name in parens if you want people to be able to know who suggested what. 

 

I've been interested in a long time in doing an exhibition related to vintage postcards that could involve artists, writers, and the general public. Many people collect old postcards or have old postcards in their possession. The most interesting ones to me are not about the images, but the messages that are inscribed on the back of them which can sometimes be very revealing, esoteric, ominous, or just strange. I imagine exploring the idea of giving out images of pre-selected/pre-curated postcards to artists/writers who would then generate new work in response to that source material. "Strangers" could then be tapped to either include their own images or responses, or to respond to the work of the solicited artists/writers. I've been collecting images for this project for a number of years and have a few scanned to my computer if people are interested in seeing a couple of examples - I can circulate them by email or to flickr. I sometimes fantasize that it would be a fun project to curate for the Postal Museum in DC that is part of the Smithsonian.(SP)

 

how about an exhibition on the uniqueness of being alive now, as in...what has happened since you were born, what do you think might happen before you die, what has changed in the world between when you were younger and now? We could provide an open platform and visitors comments/artwork/interviews/collages/news clippings/et al. could be added to the exhibit. The strangers part? Well, someone can think of that. Maybe people would compare notes with others in the exhibit with them. (LT)

 

Or, what about an exhibition about utopias?  possible sections include a selection of "famous" utopian visions (i.e. from books, movies, etc), attempts to create utopias (commune movement of 60s-70s), and asking what the elements of your utopia would be, and someway of asking strangers for their utopian ideas. (LT)

 

Since our venue is going to be graduation item pick-up, maybe we could play off the graduation theme.  Find a way to curate an exhibit on the UW experience tailored for the class of 2009?  I'm not quite sure what this would look like, but maybe something to the effect of a large campus map where student visitors could add, either virtually or physically from a bin of collage materials below, their memories from their UW experience.  It would facillitate conversation because people could leave messages for other graduates, etc.  (KP) 

 

I like the idea of focusing on UW.  It seems that if we're going into this focusing on our audience - the UW is one of the things they all have in common.  I would want to avoid doing a standard history exhibition, though would be interested to look at student influence at the UW, and how it has changed over time.  In the past, students used to be involved in grounds activities such as raising the Sylvan columns on campus http://www.washington.edu/alumni/columns/march02/place_columns_lg.html ; in protesting the vietnam war, the rights of workers to organize and the rights of black students http://depts.washington.edu/antiwar/vietnam_student.shtml, to demanding that campus apparel not be made in sweatshops http://uwnews.org/uweek/article.aspx?id=34484 (this happened recently in 2007, and would be remembered by those graduating this year).  We could include opportunities for graduating seniors and others on campus to record ways they have influenced campus to encourage participation. Student activism is just one option, I'm not particularly attached to it, though I would be interested in an exhibit that had to do with the UW, or motivated the students in some way. (julie)

 

I too think focusing on UW and graduation would be wise (unless there is a move toward exploring other exhibition spaces).  This week I tagged a wiki from the future Tim O'reilly book Designing Social Interfaces.  One of the wiki's "fundamental principles" for designing a social environment online is to "Deliberately Leave Things Incomplete," which the wiki connects with the idea of customizability (they give the example of choosing a "skin" for an app).  I think this principle could work well with the location and the activity that will already be happening in the Hub.  What if we dug through the UW archives, found some photos of old UW outfits (think old grad gowns, sports uniforms, etc.) and blew them up so grads (who are all equipped with cell phone cameras) could stand behind, "skin" themselves, and take a photo.  Perhaps too touristy-cheesy?  Then somehow get those photos tagged and aggregated.  Of course, we could add interpretive text or actual artifacts to the display.  I also like Kylie's idea of allowing grads to somehow "customize" an installation to reflect their personal memories of UW, but having difficulty picturing what that would look like with a traditional collage approach.  I like: customization at the exhibit site, with the ability to have some sort of social media compatible take-away (the ability to find the photo you took on Facebook, maybe; or what if your image is somehow added into a huge class picture?). Just throwin stuff out there. (Alex)

 

The ideas brought up today in class about finding ways to make this exhibit not too nostalgic and really provide a way for users to judge/affect the content got me thinking a bit more.  What if we were to create an exhibit based on a single question (to make instructions very clear and promote usership) about the UW and or graduation experience (i.e.  What is the most important thing you have learned here?  What is the best advice you could give to next year's freshmen?  How will you change the world in 10 years?) and then had people respond individually and then organize collectively.  I once had an activity at a meeting where we had to write down what we thought the institution would face in ten years on post-its and then we each took turns placing the notes on the wall.  When they were all placed we took turns moving what we thought was more likely to the left and what was less likely to the right.  The catch was we only got to move each item one spot per turn.  What if we had people write answers to our big question on post-its, and then gave them the opportunity to place it on the grid and move one other sticky one place either more important or less important.  If you did the question with a future theme then the final configuration could be preserved and put in a time capsule to be repeated in 10 years.  (KP)

 

 

 

1.) I love the "skin" idea-- and the content propagated by that will find its way already established online networks like Facebook . . . and we wouldn't have to do anything to support that. There are a lot of delightful ways in which this could played: stepping into another person’s skin, another era etc.

2.) I also like the idea of focusing on individual memories or re-tellings of campus history, possibly also wishes for the future, and we could start to think about different ways/media is which people could do this. Offhand I have considered

-- Simple text

--creating/restructuring art or map objects related to memories

--physically tagging or flagging areas of the campus with notes or stickies to attach memories to them

--swapping memories/objects with somebody else and finding each other’s place/space of significance, possibly mapping and rating these.

Please add more directly to this post if you think of good ones.

My only concern at this point is in finding both content and strategies that really generate dialogue between strangers . . . it is one thing to do a great exhibit about highly dialogic activities (i.e. postcards, utopias etc), and quite another to purpose-build an exhibit meant to generate, record and propegate meaningful dialog. Since our client’s (Nina’s) only requirement of us was that our exhibit somehow get strangers to talk to one another, I think maybe we should start thinking of strategies to make that happen and allow the content to flow from there. I also think we should talk about what “talk” means, (i.e. actual speech? collaboration? asynchronous commentary/review?) and what kinds of ‘talk’ we would like our exhibit to generate. (Kelly Porter)

 

I think Kelly's emphasis on a specific, simple question that involves the memory of an individual (or even a small group of friends) is going to be most helpful for our exhibit. Maybe not quite so syrupy as "what was your favorite memory?" but something more like "how have you changed UW?" "name one thing you changed about yourself" "name one assumption you proved wrong." 

I also like the idea of location/physical places on campus being part of the question. "Name one memory you have of the HUB." I think it might be too much work to ask people to go somewhere else on campus to tag a place, what do you think? But this would be really cool: If we had little tags, maybe bright color, that people would write a memory on then take them to the location where the memory happened, attach to a tree or the wall. Then they would be all over the campus, everyone could read them, might encourage more participation because people would see them everywhere. Maybe leave room for others to comment on them? 

I like the idea of giving and getting, gifting, and I think it encourages people to participate because there is a transaction of ideas, not just a one way street. But I would want to have a copy of all of those participants so we could have them to exhibit, create a blog/site, etc.

Sorry about making a comment.  IT WILL NEVER HAPPEN AGAIN.  (EM)

 

Keep it simple. Be direct. these is what I'm hearing from folks and I could nto agree more. people like to be creative, but people also need a medium/ mode for their creativity. Its important to keep in mind that we don't have alot of time/funding to make this ultra techy - but we can apply uber tech concepts to a physical exhibition with free social tech output ( blogs facebook etc).  I also enjoy  the idea of idea sharing/swaping / gifting.

 

To make the exhibit relevent to a wider audience, I sugest we don't aim it directly at gradutes, but find a way to incorporate them.  Not every UW - er has husky pride, so we may want to stay from a UW specific prompt. These two sugestions offset the paramiters a bit, but I think we can still make it specific without orienting them in this way. College students are in a peroid of transition, many of them are at a point in their lives where they can offer liget advice or share cautionary tales -Interesting ones at that. We could create a forum among students, whats you best piece of advice you can offer someone? I'm not sure how we could frame it - but - someone could offer advice and that advice is transfered to someone else. If you GIVE a piece of advice, you GET one. Perhaps these could be tags that people write on like Erin sugested with notes on the back asking folks to facebook/twitter/ what have you this piece of advice with a certian tag/ hashtag - we would then have an advice database fromt he univerity fo washignton - physically transmitted and logged by students of the UW - perhaps we could ven figure how a simple program that could redistrubute these tweets after the exhibition is over - as a constent reminder of good (and quite possibly Bad) advice.  To figure out what we don't knwo we can always partner, theres someone out there that can help us make what we need. This Idea could FOR SURE use some tweaking, but it seems like a manageable concept to integrate into an exhibition setting like this.  This year I've had the opertunity to work with some amazing folks in the DXARTS department on our campus and I really think that stumbling though some like ideas could help a little with making those virtual to visceral transitions - though our budget/knowledge base is different the concepts are there. http://www.washington.edu/dxarts/people_faculty.php I recomend taking some time to check out the research works of both James Coupe and Shawn Brixey. (WFT, not WTF)

 

A few comments on the comments above...Kelly makes a good point here: "our client’s (Nina’s) only requirement of us was that our exhibit somehow get strangers to talk to one another". To me, "thinking of strategies to make that happen and allow the content to flow from there" seems super hard, but it's probably worth exploring.  (Hmmm...could the exhibit be about "strangers"?)

 

I also think Whitney makes a good point with "Not every UW - er has husky pride." One concern I have is that I think some of the memories ideas would work really well for people who loved school/were "popular"/are outwardly social/lived on campus/etc...but our exhibit should appeal to and be inclusive of folks who maybe didn't have that "traditional" college experience, as well as professors and the broader community. (Not to lose sight of the primary audience, of course). The idea of one or two big questions (i.e. how have you changed UW) or or a more central topic (i.e. student influence/activism) seem like a good way to avoid the complications that memories might conjure up.

 

Personally, I'd like to see a few more content ideas thrown out before moving on to strategies and platforms or, ideally, that everyone weigh in with at least one unique idea just so we have a lot to consider. I may be crazy but I think people would still be interested in an exhibit on a topic or featuring some cool art or science. Especially if we can encourage people to make a connection between themselves and something they didn't realize they were interested in.

 

Also I was wondering if we have a budget and, if so, how much do we have to spend???? (LT)

 

I was thinking about a quintessential graduation gift that everyone receives when they graduate... "All the Places You'll Go".  What if we take that theme and expand upon that. Whitney and I've been chatting at this MW conference and came up with the idea of "advice".  What if graduates have the chance to exchange advice with each other.   We could also create a twitter account and hashtag so that participants in the exhibit could aggregate advice (inspired by the twitterfall at the conference). I was also thinking about the physical space of the gallery/hallway of the exhibit.  It's made up of several long glass cases.  What if we capitalize on all that glass real estate and use it to create a special space.  We could frost the glass and instead of putting things in cases where people can’t touch it, we could project things onto the frosted glass.

I'm also ready to come up with a time line so we can make some goals and begin to measure our progress. (JH)

 

Like Lace, I would like to see a few more content ideas thrown out if anyone has any ideas...after the Monday teleconference meeting and the small group's brainstorming of groundrules/instructions/controls, I was led to think about many of the artists who have employed participation into their own instructive works - Yoko Ono's instruction poems from GRAPEFRUIT, Sol LeWitt's wall paintings, and Allan Kaprow's living sculptures/performance pieces for his happenings. I like the idea of looking closely at these artists' work to think about the ways in which they wrote out their guidelines and parameters and what might be learned in terms of "keeping it simple" from these artists to see if their approaches might be relevant and/or employable in our own project. (SP)

 

So this is where all the fun discussion has been going on! Sorry I am late to the party.  I see a whole lot of good ideas up there, and I'm excited about the project. BUT I wanted to throw out a cautionary word from Groundswell, what I took as the most important part of the whole book... think about the relationships, not the technologies. I love that we have so many fun and interesting ideas for exhibits, but I feel like we haven't spent much time thinking about what kind of relationships we want to engender.  Thinking about what actions we want people to take is a good first step, and last week's conversation about platform powers definitely forced us to think about what our platform will allow and encourage.  But I'd like to take our thinking a step further, and deeper, to consider what type of relationships we want these actions to build.  Diving right into choosing a fun idea without considering the motivating relationships seems equivalent to and just as short-sighted as focusing on the technologies for their own sake: "everybody's blogging! We need a blog, too!"  Ok, off my soapbox now. (KF)

__________________________________

1.) First of all, I couldn't agree with Kathyrn more in terms of focusing on the relationships we're trying to create before we try to push content (though some of the content ideas already floating about are really wonderful). This was precisely what I was trying to extol when I said that we should focus on the kind of talk we want to create and let the content flow from there. We haven't really decided what 'talk' looks like yet (actual speech? substantive speech? asynchronous conversations the sort of which appear on PHBB forums? Collaboration or group discussion? Debate? Consensus? People helping/answering each other?). I really feel as though we should very carefully think about the perameters which we might use to circumscribe 'talk.' I'm not saying that we should stop thinking of content, to the contrary, but I think our content will be more pointed if we really hone in on the experience of "stranger talking" (whatever that may be) and allow that to drive our creativity.

 

2.) I think Lace asked somewhere above if the exhibit could be about strangers? I thought about that, too, and initially dissmissed it out of hand because it seemed too obvious . . . I figured that we would have to use an oblique approach because, it seems that most people would consider talking to strangers either a difficult or undesirable thing to to do. Now I'm having second thoughts. What would happen if we were completely transparent in our purpose? What if we made an exhibit about "strangers" or estrangement. So many artists and writers and scholars have made such prodigious contributions on the topic that the material available would be vast-- everything from self-estrangement in Camus to Polish curator Aneta Szylak and Iraqi artist Hiwa K.'s 2007 "Estrangement" project which explored tensions between Europe and the Orient. If we did this the tie to new graduates would be obvious: they are in a place of transition, many will be moving away to strange places, new jobs and projects that are full of unfamiliar faces-- they are all about to undergo the experience of being a stranger in a strange land to some capacity, and perhaps we can capitalize on that.

 

To that end a few things come to mind (and all of the links mentioned here I have also tagged on Delicious),

 

-What if we could get strangers to help each other, especially these graduates turning over a new leaf. There was a fascinating experiment done by the author of the "talk to strangers" blog in which he asked several people to name somebody they would like to meet (i.e. someone who enjoys cooking or someone who can help them create a robot bartender), and he would take all of these requests and pair people up with someone who fit the description. This actually caused a lot of interesting collaborations. Perhaps we could find a way to do this on a large scale. Somebody could leave a request and another person could take it down and answer them. We'd have to find some way to record this activity, (maybe video?) and send it to the original inquirer/display the exchange. This could be a sort of "ask a stranger" activity.

 

-In my search for ways that people have gotten strangers to talk to each other successfully, nothing seems as interesting or as wildly successful as Omegle, a service, that by the stroke of a button will randomly start an IM conversation with a willing stranger. Right at this minute there are 1803 people conversing with somebody they've never met before, voluntarily. Wow. Omegle's founder Leif K. Brooks, a high school senior has been blogging about his experience with Omegle, and I bet would be a very willing collaborator in any exhibit we might do should we want to include his website.

 

-What if were were to randomly assign willing artists to collaborate together to install something or make a piece together relating to the topic of dialog or estrangement or . . . whatever else. Then allowed some durable way for visitors to rate or comment upon these pieces?

 

-What if we were to mine the cultural resources of the Burke to get objects (or digital objects as safety and insurance may allow), which relate to how different cultures interpret the idea of strangeness or exogamy, who is considered an outsider and why. We could also ask some campus academics to pitch in on this.

 

So those are my thoughts . . . . . my many many thoughts     (Kelly Porter)

Comments (1)

emilbeck said

at 12:18 pm on Apr 13, 2009

I think Kelly's emphasis on a specific, simple question that involves the memory of an individual (or even a small group of friends) is going to be most helpful for our exhibit. Maybe not quite so syrupy as "what was your favorite memory?" but something more like "how have you changed UW?" "name one thing you changed about yourself" "name one assumption you proved wrong."
I also like the idea of location/physical places on campus being part of the question. "Name one memory you have of the HUB." I think it might be too much work to ask people to go somewhere else on campus to tag a place, what do you think? But this would be really cool: If we had little tags, maybe bright color, that people would write a memory on then take them to the location where the memory happened, attach to a tree or the wall. Then they would be all over the campus, everyone could read them, might encourage more participation because people would see them everywhere. Maybe leave room for others to comment on them?

I like the idea of giving and getting, gifting, and I think it encourages people to participate because there is a transaction of ideas, not just a one way street. But I would want to have a copy of all of those participants so we could have them to exhibit, create a blog/site, etc. (EM)

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