Today, museums around the world are learning to use new technologies to preserve and display history. Large institutions are including interactive elements in their exhibits, developing mobile applications, and communicating with visitors through social networks. Troy Therrien, curator of architectural and digital initiatives at the Guggenheim Museum, has come up with a different approach: instead of adding digital elements to the analog world of museums, he decided to re-invent the ‘architecture of exhibitions’ itself. This is how the first digital exhibition at the Guggenheim appeared — the Åzone Futures Market. ‘The idea was to reflect the dynamics with which technologies gain control over our lives,’ the author of the project notes. Åzone is an exhibition that exists online. It is a market where visitors trade information about possible futures. Each user can ‘invest’ in one of the scenarios: for example, ‘drug decriminalization’ or ‘bloodless wars’. The more valuable other users find the information provided, the more virtual coins the author receives.
At the same time, Troy Therrien is sure that online exhibitions should not replace traditional museums. On the contrary, the museum should become a place of rest from the technological world, and digital space should be a field for experiments. Perhaps this is why Åzone also had a material embodiment — an interactive room where visitors could watch real-time changes in stock quotes on the market for imaginary future technologies.
The position of consultant for the introduction of innovative technologies appeared at the museum with Therrien’s arrival in 2014. His main task was to turn the museum into a conductor of social changes with the help of public programs on different platforms. With Therrien’s leadership, the museum became a platform for discussions about modern architecture and urban development: from traditional exhibitions, Therrien moved to the organization of public talks and forums. The museum began creating online content and gathering a professional community for sharing experiences.
‘With the development of technology, cultural institutions have gained new opportunities and faced new threats,’ says Therrien. ‘This is the beginning of a transition and experiments period.’ In his lecture, he will explain how the role of a museum in the global, digital, changing world has changed from a curator’s point of view. Therrien will explain why he refused to introduce technology as an art object and focused on demonstrating the effects of digital media.
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