Traditionally, art and history museums have been concerned with material culture—the objects, buildings, and environments constructed by a community, a culture’s physical evidence. Today, however, objects can be born digital, or they can exist in ambivalent states. The digital dimension has become an integral part of contemporary culture, social practices, and economic systems. As a consequence, we need to reconsider and reposition the significance, functionality, and usage of objects. How does culture cope with these new ultra-material circumstances? A series of three MoMA R&D salons explored how objects exist in a hybrid reality where the physical and the digital are seamlessly connected.
The first in a three-part series of salons dedicated to exploring the object, appropriately titled The Object, Online was devoted to unpacking and analyzing the translation of physical objects—uni-, two-, or three-dimensional, and from paintings and drawings to animals, objects, buildings, and environments—into the digital realm for exhibition, explanation, analysis, communication, exchange, and sale, to name but a few purposes.
Watch the videos from the salon and explore some of these questions: How can we render a physical object fully—or even beyond its naked-eye and bare-hand limits—taking advantage of the degrees of freedom provided by the digital space? Is such an object dematerialized or, rather, “energized?” What kinds of consequences does this voyage bring to our traditional understanding, use, collection, display, and perception of the object? What kind of digital space can best accommodate the “adopted” objects?
The salon took place on May 20th, 2014.
K8 Hardy is an artist, founding member of the queer feminist journal and artist collective LTTR, and creator of the cult zine FashionFashion, which parodies fashion magazines and photography, targeting their portrayal of women and the female body as a site for capitalist consumption. K8 Hardy also directed music videos for groups including Le Tigre, Lesbians on Ecstasy, and Men.
Laura Hoptman is Curator in the Department of Painting and Sculpture at The Museum of Modern Art. Previously, Laura was the Curator and head of the Department of Contemporary Art at Pittsburgh’s Carnegie Museum of Art, and Senior Curator at the New Museum of Contemporary Art in New York.
Randy Hunt is Creative Director of Etsy, where he leads the team of designers building Web products and creating off-line experiences. Prior to joining Etsy, Randy cofounded Supermarket, a curated design marketplace; founded Citizen Scholar Inc.; and worked at both Milton Glaser, Inc., and Number 17. More recently, he authored the book Product Design for the Web: Principles of Designing and Releasing Web Products.
Jake Barton is Principal and founder of Local Projects, a media design firm for museums and public spaces that is currently responsible for creating the media design for the 9/11 Memorial and Museum, the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum (with Diller Scofidio + Renfro), and the Frank Gehry–designed Eisenhower Presidential Memorial. Jake is recognized as a leader in the field of interaction design for physical spaces, and in the creation of collaborative storytelling projects in which participants generate content.