Collaborative online exhibitions:
Tagallery — Meta/Collections of Meta/Data
The Tagallery is an experimental online exhibition space extending the idea of a tagged exhibition and transferring the main tasks of non-commercial exhibition-spaces to the discourse of an electronic data-space. The most basic method of generating a freely accessible, modular network of personal associations on the World Wide Web is to create a link and thereby forge a relationship between two or more contents. Yet, what if a link turns into the representative of the artefact, the context and the exhibition at once?
The most basic method of generating a freely accessible, modular network of personal associations on the World Wide Web is to create a link and thereby forge a relationship between two or more contents. In the meantime, producing new fields of context through reciprocal referencing via links to homepages, blogs, databases and artworks has grown to become one of the most common artistic practices on the Internet. Yet, links are not only an element that provides a structure for the hypertextuality on the Internet and thus simultaneously serve as a multidimensional system of reference. Links also function as tools for remixing existing content, as a simplified way of copying and pasting and—particularly in the context of New Media and Information-based Art—as a meaning-generating entity that plays a part in understanding cultural work on the Internet. Thus, we “define the remix as the process of understanding a body of knowledge by using technology to rearrange and re-contextualise its elements in order to construct an original narrative. […] This remix or digitally constructivist approach—that of constructing our own narratives through surfing, searching, tagging and sharing—is becoming the dominant means by which we consume media, learn and communicate in an Internet-driven information age.” (1) What happens when the link simultaneously becomes the representative of the artwork, the context, and the exhibition?
At the beginning of 2007 the Tagallery was set up as a Delicious.com-account. Delicious.com is a social tagging platform, a simple Web 2.0 tool with limited functions for administrating Internet sites using links. These personal yet often publicly accessible link lists are interlinked among the network of users, who provide keywords and short summaries for the links. “The ‘social’ in social tagging comes from being able to view and share resources with other users of the system. For example, in Delicious.com, as soon as a user assigns a tag to an item, she sees the number of people who have also bookmarked the site, as well as the cluster of items carrying the same tag, and any additional tags that other people have used to describe the site.” (2) The main premise for using a Delicious.com account for curating is the concept of the tagged exhibition, which transfers the imagery and work methods of non-commercial exhibition spaces into a discursive electronic data space.
Tagging is a method that enables different artworks to be assigned to singular or multiple thematic positions and visualised on different levels. Keywords, which are put together in clusters to form keyword groups, heighten the readability and possibilities for interpreting the artwork and exhibition space. In this process, those who tag and the ‘gallery visitors’ engage in a dialogue with the artwork “that offers a way for people to connect directly with works of art, to own them by labelling or naming them—one of the aspects of sense-making.” (2) A specific characteristic and challenge for curating Web-based Art is the performative and/or process-oriented character of many pieces, which increases the difficulty of presenting them in real exhibition spaces. Altered conditions for art production and reception on the Internet have not only changed the art itself but also the curating praxis and subsequently the task of the curator that now also calls for process-oriented forms of representation. In contrast to traditional gallery spaces, the Tagallery not only offers chronological showrooms, semantically thick exhibition titles and various approaches to contextualising the artwork, but also makes the act of selecting and compiling the artwork public. The ongoing curatorial process is accessible via newsfeed, which designates a separate space in which to reflect these processes.
In general, the Tagallery understands itself and the possibilities it offers as a laboratory and workshop for visualising artistic processes—initiated by the curator—that take place in the form of interactions between the work and the viewer. Therefore, the online gallery simultaneously alludes to the altered conditions for art production and reception and to the role of the museum within this process: “The museum is no longer a static archive. It is a dynamic and socially powerful institution. The museum’s fundamental change from a static presentational space to a dynamic production space has had a further, decisive consequence on the museum as an institution, addressed within the context of Beuys’ idea of the museum in motion, i.e. that it loses its permanent space.” (3)
The structure of the medium Internet not only provides a space for the production and presentation of art, it also contributes to blurring the boundaries between production and presentation. “The discursivity of multimedia and how it can be associated with a dialectical aesthetic is characterised by the ways in which montage-like spatial juxtaposition—achieved through hyperlink structures and search-ability—is drawn upon for narrative effect. The functionality of links and databases extends upon already existing tabular, classificatory forms, such as the collection archive, catalogue, and methods of spatial arrangement in galleries—all technologies intimately associated with the historical evolution of the museum. Adopting a museological aesthetic that understands, and is more effectively calibrated to digital communication technologies, will see the museum emphasised as a machine for creating juxtaposition, a generator of conditions for dialogical encounters with the unforeseen (enabling, even privileging, the experience of surprise, the unexpected and perhaps the random)’” (4).
(1) Matthew Fisher and Beth A. Twiss-Garrity, Remixing Exhibits: Constructing Participatory Narratives With On-Line Tools To Augment Museum Experiences, Archives & Museum Informatics: Museums and the Web, 2007, http://www.archimuse.com/mw2007/papers/fisher/fisher.html
(2) Alla Zollers, Emerging Motivations for Tagging: Expression, Performance, and Activism, WWW2007, May 8–12, 2007, Banff, Canada. (8-12 May 2007), http://www2007.org/workshops/paper_55.pdf
(3) Tobias Wall, Das unmögliche Museum. Zum Verhältnis von Kunst und Kunstmuseeum der Gegenwart, transcript, Bielefeld, 2006, p. 264.
(4) Vince Dziekan, Beyond the Museum Walls: Situating Art in Virtual Space (Polemic Overlay and Three Movements), FibreCulture Journal – Distributed Aesthetics issue, 2007.