From museums online to exhibitions about IT (January-March 2016)

Presenting museum resources online is now an established practice, adding a virtual museum to the real one; but the reverse process  – using a real museum to present exhibitions on e-data – is gathering importance, now that the electronic medium is beginning to have a long history.

Web-based educational resources on the arts and on history

  • Tate courses on the arts: Tate has teamed with online-learning provider Khan Academy to offer courses on the arts, an example of a joint-project between cultural institutions and distance-learning platforms.

As an example, the chapter on Patrick Caulfield has a video showing works by Caulfield, with a written comment on  his aesthetics ‘simplifying everyday objects to basic black outlines and fills of uniform colour’, and audio comments shared between Nicholas Serota (the Director of the Gallery) and the artist Dexter Dalwood. Then comes the question: ‘Can a simple line drawing … make you see the world in a different way?’ Readers may add questions, and we read, for instance, ‘Who classified “Interior with a Picture” as Pop Art? And why?’

It combines historical documents with present-day animation techniques and navigation paths. Starting from the portraits of the sovereigns, you may zoom to look at high-resolution details and select animations where the portrait moves, or study the information about them and the associated historical figures. You may also contextualise each of them in the line of succession and proceed to other sovereigns in the family tree. Each chapter also contains quizzes  and worksheets which may be used in class.

  • V&A interactive webpages on the ‘Europe’ galleries:  The new galleries ‘Europe’ at the Victoria and Albert Museum have state-of-the-art webpages. The section on cabinet furniture has a video where we can see a gloved curator open the secret drawers of a cabinet and display its curiosities, in candle light to reproduce the atmosphere of the time.
    The Museum has also put up educational webpages:

On reproductions of paintings, you may highlight some of the historical figures to identify them and to obtain information on them; on photos of objects, you may find written and audio commentaries, including a piece of music for a music stand. There are interactive simulation games, where you may take the path of an apprentice and proceed by answering questions at each step.

Exhibitions on information technology

It argues that data were previously largely produced by administrations, but now the majority of data are produced by everyday activities.

It shows digital programmes based on space and time: webcams in different timezones giving arrays of images, and clocks with internet-refreshed statistics. It also showcases new methods for analysing image data: London selfies classified by Mechanical Turk, and face recognition apps. The ‘London situation’ room enables the visitor to work on data.

A chapter deals with data journalism, on topics such as the types of housing that each user could afford based on income and location chosen, and real-time statistics on markets using the Black-Scholes equation, with discussion of disordered mechanisms. The political uses of data in participatory democracy are also explored, with programmes  in which users may select their MPs and search the details of their votes in the Commons, and exhibits about collaborative policy-making, including an example form ‘Madrid gobierno abierto’ (open governent) since the exhibition is set up in collaboration with the Spanish Telefónica

  • The Whitechapel Gallery has an exhibition on the Electronic Superhighway 2016-1966 (29 January- 15 May)

Arranged in reverse chronological order, it shows image and video digital art, emphasising the layering of analogue and computer- produced images.