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The Virtual Museum

The Virtual Museum

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Published by Charles Cameron
Some thoughts aboiut the possibilities of the virtual museum, written as a note of considerations for the eventusl development of the Glass Bead Game variant known as HipBone Games in Feb 1997

By Charles Cameron, Copyright (c) 1997
Some thoughts aboiut the possibilities of the virtual museum, written as a note of considerations for the eventusl development of the Glass Bead Game variant known as HipBone Games in Feb 1997

By Charles Cameron, Copyright (c) 1997

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Published by: Charles Cameron on Jan 28, 2014
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07/29/2015

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The virtual museum is not simply a museum in virtual space What's going on here is that we're dealing with a multidimensional

space rather than the flat space of a wall or the three dimensional space of a room. Walk-through "real-life" museums necessarily organize their collections in such a way that one work of art is sequentially related to the next. The visitor walks up a corridor, or through a room, and takes in each work in sequence, carrying a little of the previous work trailing in memory -- and on occasion stepping back to view two works placed next to one another in a comparative way. In her hand or in his ear, a textual commentary is available: the catalogue. And this is typically consulted in a one-to-one relation, such that picture 63 is viewed and the text for picture 63 heard or read. The museum is a collection of physical objects with stories which explain them: virtual space is a space of virtual objects with linkages between them. It follows that the virtual museum is a collection of virtual objects and the linkages between them. But what are those objects? We cannot assume the objects in the virtual museum are limited to the objects in the physical museum: if nothing else, the stories which explain those objects will themselves be objects in the virtual museum. Both "collection objects" and "catalogue entries" are represented in the same digital fashion. The catalogue entries, in other words, are objects in the virtual museum. We do not carry a catalog as we browse the virtual museum: The virtual museum is its own virtual catalog. And this is because the digital democratization of information which obtains on the web renders the "art object" and the "art historical text" functionally equal. In fact, "digital democratization" allows for the expansion of presentable content to include not only visual and art historical

record libraries and databases are all available as reference points for the items in the collection. scientific and mathematical expressions].. -----------------------------------------------------------------We do not move from room to room but from link to link as we browse the virtual museum.and importantly -. while objects and their stories are the given.materials on an equal footing. sounds and musical items. Linkage. Not just the museum catalogue and reference library. in other words. ??? The virtual museum can be conceived as an ellipse with one focus in the originating collection and the other in world cultural history. mathematical analogs and explanations.. .web-based "frames" make this possible without the viewer leaving the originating web site. text libraries. /// but the envelope of "museum" pushed to encompass the native multidimensionality of the web. but also the world's other museums. private collections. The museum becomes an expression of cultural totality. but also all manner of other texts. is the "new" in our context. but may also contain linkages to the holdings of other museums: indeed -.. Thus the virtual museum need not and should not limit itself to physical objects [eg pictures. the virtual museum need not limit itself to the objects in its sponsor museum's holdings. but can and should contain linkages to other arts and modes of representation [eg musical. sculptures] and associated texts. To make a virtue of the virtual... the museum as we know it transforms into a repository of world culture whose special focus is the collection: The virtual museum is thus no longer archeologically or artistically based: it encompasses all forms of expression.. the world of literature and drama. historical. Furthermore. literary. The "virtual proximity" of other bodies of knowledge on the net and web invites the inclusion of multiple reference points outside the collection: effectively. architectural renderings.

The links between items themselves begin to assume considerable esthetic importance. To understand this is to make a virtue of the virtual. The essence of the difference between the museum and the virtual museum is this: objects in the virtual museum are "next to" a far larger number of other objects than objects in the physical museum. The juxtaposition of one artefact with another explodes in an unimaginable freedom. The system of linkages inherent in the structure of the Internet and the World Wide Web expands our concept of the museum by making possible a bewildering variety of new "throughways" between and among the items displayed.and a cathedral of the museum. but the virtual presentation of whatever the museum-as-archetype has been or will be in the labyrinth of human vision. The sequencing the visitor's experience in virtual space will thus inevitably reflect the topology not only of the collection.. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------. and a system of constraints must therefore be imagined to limit and lead the viewer -. but also of the catalog and of the web itself. becomes a speculum mundi or .to a desired and appropriate outcome. like the cathedral before it. since their contents are intermingled: and the result is that the virtual museum. The virtual museum is not simply a museum in virtual space.. What happens as a result is that linkage itself blossoms from a narrow and largely sequential business into a multiplex affair. The museum and the library can no longer be separated.through a "garden of forking paths" -. And this topography brings a new feature to the foreground: linkage.The floorplan of the virtual museum is an n-dimensional graph of nodes and links. and "outside" the museum: thus raising new problems and possibilities in sequencing the experience of the "visitor".

Painted Bird p22. that the museum has replaced the cathedral as the central space where people congregate in a culturally rich environment. teachers and students -. it means that whatever the cathedral *was* for us -. as well as of artists and their patrons. now Navaho. now Congolese. The virtual museum as secular cathedral is the place where all the world's imaginal trasures come together as offerings. The test of the museum is its cathedral-effectiveness: its capacity to invoke wonder. and the museum is our cathedral. The elevation of the virtual museum is a sacramental elevation. now Italian. now Santeria.. The virtual museum is thus a special case of the "art form" described by Hermann Hesse in his novel The Glass Bead Game: And the museum thus resembles the "Glass Bead Game" Hesse described in his Nobel-winning novel: . We live in secular times. cf Tom Wolfe. and from which all the world departs imaginally enriched.. hub of the city. mirror of worlds -. but offers access to it in a manner that does not demand a specific. This could mean. ritual space. The secular does not lack for a sacred dimension. The museum is thus heir to the phenomenology of shamans. Maximally.the museum can be.master artwork of combined artworks in many media. thus among other things effectively assuring that "collection" and "catalog" merge. saints and mystics. local belief or practice. minimally.for it is visited by crowds in which each individual carries a different cultural inheritance. and thus potentially. original file dated Feb 10 1997 ."mirror of the world".

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