Tag Archives: museums

Vine Basics

What does Vine do? I am amazed by the multiplicity of answers to this question–in the form of videos posted by Vine users every day. Most importantly, Vine is a visual medium. It needs to reflect your aesthetic, or at the least, you should feel it looks good. While it uses sound, the sound is often less compelling than the visual.

Good vines exploit the visual nature of the medium. This can take so many forms, from visual explorations of space, to humorous juxtapositions, to surprising stop-motion.

In order to create vines are visually appealing, consider a number of factors:

Lighting—if it looks dark in your phone, your vine will not be wonderful. Natural light can work, but if you are doing stop-motion, the changes throughout the period you are working in, will make your stop-motion less successful.

Tripod—a tripod holds your phone still so that your vine doesn’t feel like the Blair Witch Process.

Ghost—The ghost feature allows you to line up frames so you can create seamless stop-motion.

Save—At the bottom navigation, the far right icon, allows you save your video for later.

More shots—particularly if you are doing something complicated, or that involves sound, consider making a number of “shots.” Each time you tap the screen you create a discrete unit of video. These units in themselves can’t be edited, but each unit can be moved or deleted.

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My vines can be found here.

I have written a series of short posts about Vine.  Enjoy:
Vine Video for Museums: Post 1
How can Museum Educators use Vine?
The Right Audience for Vine
Fostering Participation in Vines
Vine to Share the Museum Experience
Narrative in Vine
Looking at Art through Vine
Vine on Your Own
Vine Interface—An Orientation
Vine Basics
Vine and Audio
Stop Motion Tips

I produced these posts as notes in preparation for co-writing this paper for Museums and the Web 2014, with Alli Burness, @Alli_Burnie; Patty Edmonson, @Retrograde_D; and Chad Weinard, @caw_

Our presentation Vine feed is here. 

Our workshop in April, 2014 sparked some good conversation, see the Storify.

Many of our participants made some wonderful Vines, check these out.

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The Continuum of Craft and Creative Expressions

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I need to get a number of confessions out.  I love crafting.  I self-classify as a crafter.  I even have a blog about crafting with kids, Art Play Space. And, I don’t think functional art, often classified as craft, is neither fine nor art. 

All that said, there is a class of things that museum professionals and art teachers teach in the studio that I would say are craft. Use this set of prescribed materials to get this product that looks very similar to the sample the teacher made.  Your gauge of success will be how similar it is to the sample—and how good it looks.  Your chance to innovate will be within some specific, carefully gauged parameters.

This type of activity is in opposition to something that is more focused on creativity.  In an idealized world, this would be something where you have many types of materials available for students.  The choice of materials would be up to the students.  The resulting project would also come from their creativity. 

Consider these illustrations. On the open-ended side, imagine a printmaking class, where 2-3 different processes are described and demonstrated and then students are invited to create.  On the prescribed end of the spectrum, imagine a dragon puppet where the eyes, horns, mouth, teeth, nostrils, ears where everything was pre-cut for students to assemble. 

The projects that are taught in the museum classroom are on the continuum of prescribed projects and completely open ones.  I have come to see the value of both types of projects. 

Reasons for Using Crafts in Museums Studio Classrooms:

  • Following the directions: This is a world where in some instances following the directions is essential to success.  Going on vacation is a set of situations in which you had to follow directions.  Miss a step and you won’t be getting on the plane.
  • Fine motor skills: Using scissors and an exacto to precisely replicate a given form is hard.  Craft is a way that the student will be able to see their deficiencies.  If your project is ovoid rather than expected square, you will be able to see where you have cut incorrectly.
  • Satisfaction: Finishing a project that looks as it can feel good.  Making art can feel good.  But, if you are scared of creativity, crafting can be a gateway drug.
  • Frameworks for Innovations: A blank sheet of paper can be scary to some people.  But, give them a little structure, and they will be safe enough to be creative. 
  • Pretty:  Any art historian knows that art doesn’t have to be pretty.  That said, for millennia humans have surrounded themselves with items whose function is beauty.  Creating works that are prized for being aesthetically pleasing fulfills a primal need. 

On the more creative end of the spectrum:

  • Rules are meant to be broken: Innovation is hard to teach but easier to foster.  Teaching students how to be creative without rules can have effects throughout their lives.
  • Techniques: Focusing of the techniques, say bookmaking, you are allowing students to immerse themselves in process. 
  • Ugly: Art can be an expression. Creating something that is totally about process give you an insight onto many museum collections.  Creating an impasto painting that speaks to you is one way to gain new insight into Joan Mitchell. 

The issue is how your proposed project lands on this spectrum, and this is related to your students.  For very young students, process based works, devoid of specific results, can be ideal.  Painting is wonderful to preschoolers, who by nature are predisposed to immersing themselves in process. 

The real litmus test isn’t age but instead interest about ability.  If your proposed group of students is scared of art, or unfamiliar with making stuff, then the project should have a visually pleasurable result.  But, if this same group doesn’t have good fine motor skills, then you might still prick something with multiple visually appealing outcomes.  For elementary, you might do splatter painting.  You might think of it this way: 

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Vine on Your Own

In museums interpretation could be classified: being enacted by a staff intercessor, say in a program, or placed for audience consumption without a staff-member present, like a label. In both instances, great care is given to have the audience reacts. But, it in former, the staff member has the luxury of being able to tack, or change their course, if their original approach didn’t work. In the latter, you might end up using audience observation, or eavesdropping by a less formal name, to glean if your approach worked.

In terms of Vine in museums, sometimes your audience just needs a little nudge to try it. Teens might only need to see a hashtag and get it. You might put a call out on your website, by twitter, or best yet, on your vine feed. But, in order to do this, make sure that your whole community is ready for it. Ensure that your guards know that people might be Vining the galleries without a staff member. Share the information with your information desk, and explain hashtags/ vine/ etc if they ask.

This type of non-staff led Vine can open you up to some powerful vantage points onto your collection. They are not being told what to answer. They are in fact speaking from their own unadulterated selves.

While I can’t say that we have managed to set this fire yet, I can imagine this would be a great way to see what interests your audience. Probably way better and more interesting than a comment card, I say.

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My vines can be found here.

I have written a series of short posts about Vine.  Enjoy:
Vine Video for Museums: Post 1
How can Museum Educators use Vine?
The Right Audience for Vine
Fostering Participation in Vines
Vine to Share the Museum Experience
Narrative in Vine
Vine on Your Own
Vine Interface—An Orientation
Vine Basics
Vine and Audio
Stop Motion Tips

I produced these posts as notes in preparation for co-writing this paper for Museums and the Web 2014, with Alli Burness, @Alli_Burnie; Patty Edmonson, @Retrograde_D; and Chad Weinard, @caw_

Our presentation Vine feed is here. 

Our workshop in April, 2014 sparked some good conversation, see the Storify.

Many of our participants made some wonderful Vines, check these out.

Vine Video for Museums: Post 1

Have you ever lost track of time watching a Vine video? What makes a Vine so engaging that you end up watching them over and over?  They are only 6 seconds, after all.  The brevity of the medium is at the core of its power.  Spurred by the challenge of fitting an idea into such a short time frame, some Vinemakers seem to turn what should be a blink of an eye into a cinematic tour de force.

In the last few months, I have spent many hours (or more than 12,000 vines) playing with the possibilities of the medium.  Stop Motion or video. Kid-made or Senior-tried.  Narrative or atmospheric.  Outsider vantage point or insider snapshot.  Programmatic or spur of the moment.   The possibilities are endless.  But, to frame these ideas, how can Vine be used in the museum context?

To dive into these possibilities a little more:

Stop Motion or video:

Stop motion is like magic.  But, as I would all magicians work very hard for their sleight of hand to seem effortless, I have learned that stop-motion can require quite a lot of preplanning.  For museums, stop-motion can help speed up the tedium, culling out the best of an experience.  Even suspending a multimillion dollar sculpture weighing a smidge less than a semi-truck has its dull moments.  In museum education, offering your audience, families and school students alike, extensions of their experience at home can be the difference between creating lasting bonds or maintaining a casual connection.  Shot video is expensive and often children (and adults) don’t have the patience to watch a three-minute video.  Stop motion can bring a studio project to life in a way that engaging and audience-appropriate.  Plus, the medium allows for a sort of amateurism in comparison with shot-video which is held to a higher visual standard within the design-ethos of museums.

What to keep in mind:

Know where you are going:  In order to get everything in, you really need to understand each of the steps in the process or story arc.  It is easiest if you are both the content generator and the film-making.  But, if not, try to ask your content provider what all the steps are.

It’s okay to edit: If you are not sure if the shot will make the final cut, take it.  You can always delete it.  But, if you are filming something that will not occur again, say installing that wonderful show, you can’t go back a shoot a step later.

BUT…It’s okay to experiment:  So, while many of my lessons on stop motion come from the motivation of conveying a specific concept or element of the museum, I have also enjoyed playing around with it.  Honestly, some of the best Vine stop motion have the joy of serendipity.

Video has its own set of challenges.  I find the vast majority of Vine videos about a scale less interesting than watching paint dry.  But, that might be because the majority of videos are produced for a very specific audience, say your buddy in your Calc class, and I am not a member of that audience.  If you think narrative, or film in the traditional sense, it is hard to imagine 6 compelling seconds.  But, break out of your sense of narrative, and the medium has amazing possibilities.  Imagine the face of the someone seeing a Picasso for the first time.  6 seconds of amazement serves as an analogy for a lifetime of being inspired by art.  Stendhal’s in short.  Or the sounds of being in a gallery.  Or the way it feels to walk around a sculpture.  Or the roar of a lion at your local zoo.

What to keep in mind:

Aim right: Don’t do too much.  Enjoy the luxury of six seconds.  People don’t expect Gone with the Wind.  But, they might be amazed by the wind wiping through your sculpture garden.

Be forgiving: While in stop motion, you might find yourself deleting many frames.  In video, you might find yourself deleting many videos.

BUT it’s not either/or…. Video and Stop motion are not necessarily opposing forces.  Instead, they are sort of on a visual equilibrium.  In some videos, I have experimented with bursts of video strung together.  Sometimes, I have used stop motion for most of the video, and then add in a little moving video for a key moment.  Video can be a moment of respite from stop motion, punctuation to your point, or a wonderful surprise for your viewer.

___________________________________________________________________________________________

My vines can be found here.

I have written a series of short posts about Vine.  Enjoy:
Vine Video for Museums: Post 1
How can Museum Educators use Vine?
The Right Audience for Vine
Fostering Participation in Vines
Vine to Share the Museum Experience
Narrative in Vine
Looking at Art through Vine
Vine on Your Own
Vine Interface—An Orientation
Vine Basics
Vine and Audio
Stop Motion Tips

I produced these posts as notes in preparation for co-writing this paper for Museums and the Web 2014, with Alli Burness, @Alli_Burnie; Patty Edmonson, @Retrograde_D; and Chad Weinard, @caw_

Our presentation Vine feed is here. 

Our workshop in April, 2014 sparked some good conversation, see the Storify.

Many of our participants made some wonderful Vines, check these out.

Museum Games: Dishes Best Served to Order

 

Sir Eduardo Paolozzi, 12. Refreshing and Delicious, 1972. © The Eduardo Paolozzi Foundation

 

The tinkling, jingling bells of the approaching ice cream truck awaken something in the soul of my oldest daughter.   My other daughter squeals with delight at broccoli.   Whatever floats your boat?  Right?

Recently, at AAM, there was a long discussion about if museum games can have spinach in the cookies?  Similarly at the MCG games, there was a lot of discussion about chocolate covered broccoli.  In other words, can we sneak something “good for you” in something you actually enjoy?

For me this whole argument is pointless.  Some people actually choose broccoli, like my daughter.  There are people for whom history, art, and science is just naturally enjoyable.  And, there are people who have no interest in playing games.   For the non-gamers, playing a game is the broccoli.

Underlying this argument is the real struggle between how much “real” content can be added to game while still keeping the game fun.  I have had this struggle for sure.  I understand this.  You are putting money and resource, both scarce in museums, into this game.  You need to make this game count.

But, what part counts to you visitors?  Enjoyment is the thing that counts the most to them.  And, there we go back to spinach and cookies.  For some people, spinach is enjoyable.  Others are always out for cookies.  But, many, many people like both.  Many people want to get something out of their museum experience in a way that is enjoyable.

If you find yourself an audience that really loves Renaissance history, they will be the people who would like a game filled to the gills with “spinach,” repleat with ruffs, trenchers, Medici, and Gonzaga.  If you have an audience of poker players who want to play at the museum, they might not want to play along with the Renaissance folk.

The thing about the spinach and cookie debate is that it boils down we are trying to hide the boring museum stuff in the fun game stuff.  It is basically implying museum stuff is unpalatable.  Secondly, the museum people who are very focused on trying to get in the spinach are often focused on their “needs.”

To create a good game, start with your audience.  Just as you might ask dinner party guests about preferences, you want to know the behavior of your intended game players.  Who knows? They might be people who like spinach in their cookies.

What can museums learn from the Moth?

I must applaud AAM for turning their keynote mic over to the Moth Radio Hour, produced by PRX and Atlantic Public Radio.   Three storytellers came up to the stage, one after the other, and spoke about their life.  Each was clearly carefully chosen to match the museum professional audience.  One spoke about confronting her preconceived notions of success prior to entering into a life in the arts.  Another spoke of his weird and wonderful tenure as chief docent and caretaker of the Poe house in Queens, New York.  And, a third spoke about how connecting with a particular viewer reawakened his love of performing.  None of these stories were specifically about museum practice.    But, all were clearly chosen for the way they would resonate with the work of museum staff.  

The whole experience made me wonder. What can the Moth teach museums?

Make your choices of stories appear seamless: I would guess that the producers had many storytellers to choose from.  They clearly chose these three became of the way they worked together to create a cohesive package.  But, this was not an overt thing.  It wasn’t like the producer said show will be first talk about understanding personal connections to careers in the arts; second, taken about institutional (and personal connections) to the community; and finally, the role and importance of the viewer/ visitor.  Rather than explaining this structure, they just let us experience the stories.  And, then afterwards, we as viewers are allowed to create our own meaning and extrapolate our own structure for the program.

Get down to business: None of the storytellers prefaced their stories.  They wove their introduction of themselves into the story at hand. 

Let one event, or one moment, be the core of the story: Rather than exploring a whole epic saga, each storyteller developed their content around one clear, distinct core.  One talked about her experience in a studio class, another about a few months in a particular job, and another about a single performance. 

Speak Small but Communicate Big: While the stories from the Moth were bounded in their scope, they really functioned as metaphors for bigger ideas.  In other words, these big themes were embedded in the story—and this is what made those stories resonate later.

Hook it up: Each story started somewhere, took you down an interesting road, and then arrived at a conclusion that basically brought the story full circle.  In other words the introduction was hooked to the conclusion in a satisfying way.

Make it personal: Each storyteller had a different style.  They each really spoke from their own personality.  Rather than making excuses for being Southern or a Geek, they made this an asset in their storytelling.  

Start Strong:  Each storyteller caught our attention from the beginning.  They knew that this was the make or break moment for the audience to check out or connect, and they really put work into making the introduction matter.

Crescendo: While you have to start strong, then you need to modulate your presentation.  There has to be quieter moments, and then finally you need to build up to your final, satisfying conclusion. 

Control Yourself: Each speaker had his talk memorized—but it didn’t seem memorized.  You got the feeling that the storyteller was in the moment, telling this story for you (rather than just offering a boring canned presentation.) 

Prep and Prep again: The MC mentioned that the producer really worked with the storytellers to get them to work in the Moth format. In other words, don’t think that the content will matter to your audience if your performance sucks.  If you choreograph a wonderful experience, that makes the method disappear, then your audience will really understand (and even remember) your content. 

This is the second in a series of posts considering museums and storytelling.  The first is here.

The Art in Museums

Given 75 million dollars, and an abiding belief in the role of museums in the common good, what sort of institution would you create?  The You Museum of Art? The You Museum of Culture? The Klatch of  Stuff? 

Recently, I was sitting at a table in the midst of a wonderful debate about the merits of adding Art to the name of a  cultural organization and the inevitable drawbacks.  The word “art” carries a certain je ne sais quoi that makes donors swoon and prance.  After all, art has the ultimate cache—it costs a lot and proves you know why the price tag is so high.  Art is at once a commodity and signifier of intelligence. One just seems fashionable for wearing the best of Issey Miyaki’s spring line. One seems brilliant for owning a Pae White, because the act of owning appears tied to the act of understanding.  In other words, to consume is also to get it. 

Those who work in public art museums know the secret to this whole thing.  There doesn’t have to be anything to get.  It can be as simple as paint on an old wood board.  Appreciation can just be about liking the surface. Or it can be as complex as explaining all of humanity, faith, God and heaven on said board.  Appreciation can then be about understanding gold ground altarpieces in the context of the liturgy of Gothic Siena prior to the Black Death.

When visitors ask about value, they certainly mean cost.  The art market sets the price, but the value can be completely disengaged from the debate.  The viewer can choose this value.  One person’s penny print can be another person’s Ukiyo-e masterpiece 200 hundred odd years later.   In a consumer capitalist society, this nuance is hard.  Add the complexity of the ever-quickening paceof mass media, when a song lasts for a minute and an advertisement for a second in our ever fracturing common understanding.  It is hard to see yourself standing on the long slow road of art history just a blimp between the Lascaux Caves and something I couldn’t begin to fathom 3000 years from now.  When you think about it in that way, it doesn’t matter how much that Damian Hirst cost yesterday or even within our lifetime. 

Art can be a scary term connoting cliquishness as much as culture.  The term also offers unabated belief in the truth that humans make things that are valuable to society, forever, for their material essence. That actual object, not its apish digital simalcra, is special.  I would rather tackle these fears about art, and then help people understand that they got it all along. 

So, back to my brand spanking new museum.  I would proudly hang the biggest banner I could afford, and despite the rising cost of steel, I could still get a pretty big banner with all that imaginary money.  I would yell this is a museum of ART.