Sites to See: The Art of the Message
While the written word can still hold substantial power of persuasion, its message can be squelched amid the multimedia crush of our information age. It’s a simple fact that sound and video can grab, and hold, the attention of a user much longer than stark text. So when it comes to building awareness and buzz, dot-orgs are turning to similar measures as their revenue-rabid dot-com counterparts: Museums, art organizations, and public interest non-profit organizations are increasingly choosing rich media over text to educate and entertain. Here are some prime examples of dot-orgs putting streaming to work for a cause.
The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art’s 010101: Art in Technological Times exhibit appropriately blurs the line between the virtual and the real. The museum is combining a gallery exhibit that charts the influence of digital media and technology on contemporary art, architecture and design, with an online counterpart that takes a physical presence at kiosks in the gallery and resides in cyberspace on www.sfmoma.org. The featured digital artists will be appearing in person at the museum for live demonstrations of their creations. An audio stream of the artists’ recorded remarks will be streamed alongside the online tours of their work on the Web.
Physically located in the SOHO district of New York, The Alternative Museum (TAM) Web site exhibits a range of digital and non-digital art and offers the TAM MONITOR, an online arts journal that, despite the clunky acronym — which stands for "media or news information technology open resource" — offers thoughtful streaming video and audio interviews with media artists.
The Whitney Museum of American Art, which houses 20th century American art in the form of paintings, sculptures, multimedia installations, drawings, prints, and photographs, has also added an audio tour, called "American Voices" to its permanent collection. American Voices brings the voices of artists, historians, and other cultural personalities to life not only within the walls of the museum, but also online at http://www.whitney.org/collection/american_voices.shtml. The voices are accompanied by representations of the art in question for those who can’t make it to the Big Apple, or for those who have a fear of wearing rented headphones.
While not technically a dot-org, Born Magazine is definitely a labor of love rather than of revenue streams. The content is born of an open marriage of literature and digital design. The site serves as a platform for free expression — a welcome outlet for those whose creations are usually determined by clients’ expectations. With no compensation offered other than exposure, writers submit anything from poetry to short stories, which, if selected, are passed on to digital designers who transform the text into interactive experiences. The result … well, you really should go check it out for yourself.