maxcowan

The O.

In General Mish-Mash on June 18, 2011 at 3:14 pm

One of the oddities/innovations of the Museum of Old & New Art (MONA) is The O.

(CK – if you are reading this you should have a close look at The O in relation to your Shuffle project)

“The O” is a name given to an iPod that carries the information about all the artwork in the Museum. In fact, The O is the only place you can find any information about any of the art in MONA. There are absolutely no labels for any of the works. If you want details of any of the works you need to refer to The O.

The O tracks your location in the Museum, calls up the works in that area and you can select the work you want to find out about.

The details available are those you would see on conventional gallery labels – the name of the work, artist, media, materials, date, etc.

For many pieces there are additional comments or commentary that come from a range of sources – David Walsh (the owner of the gallery and the collection); the curatorial staff; critics & commentators; gallery visitors. These additional notes come under one of three title – GonzoArtwank, or Ideas.

You can pass judgement on a work by assigning it a plus (+) or a cross (x) – plus meaning you love the work, cross the opposite.

All your activities at the Museum are recorded – what you saw and how you rated the works. At the end of your visit you can choose to have the details of your tour saved and uploaded to the MONA website.

If you hit this link (Max’s MONA Tour) and enter my email address – maxcowan@bigpond.net.au – you can have a look at my tour recorded in May.

You will find a lot of works classified as stuff that I missed.

That’s because I eventually found The O to be a distraction – I stopped using it.

Now, I have written all that stuff about The O as a precursor to a question I have been wondering about for some time now …

What does a maturing digital age mean for the way we behave, communicate, connect, learn, and educate? Are the changes likely to change what is seen as important for humanity, are they likely to change humanity itself (whatever that may be!)?

I keep hearing about Web 2.0 being a vehicle that leads to a new era of sharing & collaboration – perhaps even a decentralisation of influential power. But is it? Is Web 2.0 empowering, engaging, & connecting most, or is it an opiate that substitutes, mesmerises, distracts, & deceives? I don’t know! To me, it’s like the house of mirrors – I get a different image everywhere I look.

In the case of The O being the interface that connects MONA with its visitors, it is alleged that David Walsh is intending to use the votes of + (love) and x (hate) to influence the curation of the next phase of MONA.

Rumour has it he will remove the works with the highest + (love) scores and retain those with the highest x (hate) scores.

I guess the quote on MONA’s home page is apt:

“Will you walk into my parlour?” Said the spider to the fly.

I guess he does not want his Museum to adopt the vanilla flavour that can come from a “majority rules” type of decision-making.  He (or The O) does have people thinking/believing that somehow they are influencing the parlour they have entered – and I suppose they are!

Interestingly, you cannot give The O itself a + (love) or x (hate) vote!

Note: Earlier this week I took a pen and some paper and wrote a letter to my friends, Sylvie & Francois in St Denis, France. I went to the Post Office, paid the postage and posted it – it will arrive in 3-4 days (I guess). I could have sent an email and have it arrive almost instantaneously. But somehow this seemingly archaic behaviour took on a deeper, almost arcane significance. And it felt really good!!!

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