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Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Going back to gallery land #ndf2012

Going back to gallery land
Courtney Johnston, Hutt City Council @auchmill
This talk has been prompted by a shift: from private to public sector, from things on the web to things on walls, from Cuba Street to Lower Hutt. It will range over a group of freewheeling ideas, including the sensitised museum, the stack as metaphor, and the potential of emotional interfaces. There will also be 90 seconds on the topic 'How to be a great client'.

Refers to article by Alexis Madrigal on "giving a shit".

Advice for being a good client:
  • build a good relationship - trust
  • be customer-focused
  • don't think of them as vendor but as customer
  • hard decisions are around money

Director of the Dowse Art Museum - big enough to do stuff but small enough to fly under radar. Leap from running web company to becoming director of art museum. Budget management and HR and strategy all obvious. But also experience of customer-focus, experimentation....

Lots of thinking in metaphors for transition. They're a bridge between familiar and unfamiliar. A way of making a new kind of sense. Thought of "the stack" - visualises racks of VCRs. Old boss used to say when starting a new project should go through the whole stack. Never used to take diagrams seriously because didn't help her think but now started drawing own - using stack metaphor.

"We should do X because it will better allow us to fulfill Y aspect of our mission by Z" (Nina Simon at NDF2009)

Realised her "stack" isn't a straight line but a circle - realising that fans and mission aren't two ends of a line, they're the same thing.

Can't afford to have visitors feel stupid or wrong, online or in physical space. No 404 or 403 pages in our buildings, and customer service people need to be our Fail Whales. Don't hide the thing people come to place for - in art gallery the art.

Emotional response to books, art, museum spaces. Sport as "spectacle" - event designed to evoke reaction from viewers/participants. Memorable, moving. Have we become timid? Our visitors are hungry for experience. What if we had more emotion, personality, connection in our museums and galleries.


Museum of emotions - up to beginning of previous century men would have intimate relationships with each other, now seems lacking. Our language has become impoverished, fewer words for feelings. "Chivalry" reduced from whole code to "holds doors open for women". Museum of emotions is a place you go to to experience emotions that have fallen into disuse, emotions you haven't experienced yet. Not a place to learn about them but to experience them. Not a programme designed to evoke them, but one where exhibits radiate the emotion at you.

Emophoto - Makes DigitalNZ sets for various reasons - pulling things together and annotating; exploring ideas/thesis; to accompany blogposts; for amusement as public/private gifts to people. Currently can't search for sets or see sets other than those on homepage - have to follow setmakers on Twitter. Created Tumblr site to aggregate some but dependent on time. Meaning accruing to images as collected in different sets. Wants to make sets collaboratively. Frustrated that can't search sets by emotion. Let people classify images by an "emotion picker" (like a colour picker) - quality vs intensity. Both what emotion do you see in the photo, and what emotion you feel - these are different things.

[Shares descriptions of images that have moved her emotionally.]

Metadata as a way of turning looking into thinking. (@petrajane)

Hard to tweet as a director! Personal and professional smash up against each other. Risk of putting foot wrong and standing on landmine - but doesn't want to stop because openness is powerful and scalable way of staying connected to fans.