A series of texts and reflections on the online work of some museums around the world, during the 2020 lockdown due to the COVID19 pandemic.
- The uniqueness in the experience: Thoughts about the proposals of Walter Benjamin and André Malraux about museums, artworks, and reproductions.
Museums almost always tend to have a magical and sacred place in the minds of humanity. These spaces are generated by their architecture and by what they keep, pieces that are endowed with something special that makes them valuable and full of meaning for society or even the entire world. That ‘something’ difficult to describe and that concerns a certain spiritual sense was recognized by Walter Benjamin as “the aura”, which according to the philosopher is the unique component of which the work is endowed and that nothing, not even the most perfect reproduction can replicate. A complete mystical meaning. But who is in charge of giving it that unique significance? The creator, or the observer of the work?
I must say that my favorite objects were the ones that allowed me to discover more things by zooming in on them. The Salver tray, a replica of the 19th century by Franchi and Son or the Basic ceramic from ca. 1650 of Master Potter, reveals the perfect details that surely would not be so possible to detail that much in a real visit. I liked to see its artistic details as well as the details of its flaws because that also has stories behind it. Also, thanks to the possibility of zooming, I stopped for a while to explore the Medieval Chasuble and investigate each of the faces of the characters and the gargoyles. I liked the Kandinsky work because I felt that, as always, in his paintings, the colors catch on, and the abstract forms force us to participate in the construction of meaning. Finally, I was impressed by the little prayer book of no more than 10 centimeters, hidden by the Nazis and found in Neuschwanstein Castle, because in reality, on the iPad, the quality of the images did not make me imagine that it was such a small object.
Comparing the ICOMOS definition of museums, both from 2007 and 2019, is a way of seeing how in twelve years many social dynamics, priorities, and problems of the world changed, which are reflected in simple concepts that previously seemed hidden and today come to the fore light.
Sometimes it seems that children and works of art don’t get along very well. However, thanks to Instagram, children show how to understand art through play and reinterpretation, making it possible to find new meanings from innocence. Here is my selection.
[on Instagram] we are the ones who classify as curators, the events of our lives that deserve to be “exhibited”, and we wait for the reaction of other viewers who decide if the “exhibition” is right or not. Those moments, which are generally positive, happy, incredible, enviable, become elements of comparison that everyone seeks to reach (if they are active in the social network) or that they know in principle they will not be able to do.
The discussion between analog and new media has accompanied humanity since the beginning of times. The printing press and at the same time the production of books were revolutionary, but later they became the best tool to produce books like the Bible and attract more believers. The same impact was generated by small media that generated great changes, such as carrier pigeons, even radio, television, cinema, and internet that changed the world. Every medium was new at some point and caused a commotion. And the same happens inside Museums.
The painting of ceilings and vaults is also a challenge for the observer. Whoever sees the artwork must be active since looking into the distance, above, requires a physical and painful strain on the neck. Contemplation requires turning, moving around, going from one side to the other, stretching the neck, looking up again, changing perspective. Appreciating this art is complex but in Google Arts and Culture you can find high-definition photos of works of art on ceilings that, with the zoom, finally allow us to see the invisible that rests upon us.