Mash-Up Lecture Series
What do video game development and inkblot testing have in common? The McNay Art Museum in San Antonio, Texas facilitated this engaging question and challenged their audience at the live-event to share the connections they made between the two. This lecture series caught my eye as it focuses on creating opportunities for people to engage in the "mashing up" of two seemingly unrelated ideas. I chose to view the Video Game Development & Inkblot Test video, but there are other seminars based on different subject areas available on the McNay Art Museum's Vimeo channel. The series are also planned to align with the current exhibition at the museum; this show, Beauty Reigns, featured the work of 13 intergenerational artists who work in large-scale, abstract works that are often design based and create immersive environments.
The video of the seminar featured two main presentations, the first from Professor of Video Game Development Julie Hoshizaki, and the second by Psychologist Michelle Holcomb. A museum representative began the experience with an overview of how the seminar would be conducted, and made sure to let the audience know that the third part of the program would be focused on the audience sharing their own ideas and observations about the connections between the subject areas. A prize was offered for the first to engage during the session, and a pleasing chiming sound was played whenever an audience member asked a question that incorporated both fields. Questions asked by the audience members were interesting and insightful, and demonstrated how posing a lecture with a creative challenge from the beginning can create an opportunity for open social learning.
As a storytelling device, the video did a good job of capturing the in-person experience. With a strong public performance dimension, the seminar was well planned with a good sense of timing and a focus on audience engagement. Even during the presentation, the presenters would create opportunities for interaction. For example, during Michelle Holcomb's presentation, she showed inkblots and invited the audience to share what they saw. This created a more open environment of conversation rather than a focus on a singular voice of the presenter.
Through the professional audio/video recording and editing, this meaningful experience was shared beyond the confines of that space and time. Visual imagery including both photos and video from the presenters was also included in the video edit. Audio recording was mostly solid, with only one audience member's question that I was unable to hear. Teen helpers from the museum brought microphones to those who wanted to share their ideas, questions, and observations.
How the media is presented is also of note, and an understanding of how to manage a series of videos in an online space is necessary for this type of a program. I would consider this a literacy in it's own right, as media management can be an incredibly important skill for videographers. Vimeo is a high quality streaming service, and The McNay Art Museum has an impressive number of videos on their channel. I found myself wanting to seach through the 78 videos available from the Museum without having to load a new page full of the videos from other programs. After viewing The McNay Art Museum website to see if the videos were hosted there, I was disappointed to see that the videos were not cataloged in any way.
The quality of the planning and production of the program was evident in this video manifestation of the event. I was definitely excited to see the innovative way they are approaching a lecture series, which has some negative connotations (at least they do for me!). It will be interesting to see how they chose to organize and present these videos; perhaps if they were featured as a collection in the archived section of their website the navigation would be more intuitive. I look forward to reviewing more videos from this series, and I am thrilled to see this fascinating approach to education and social learning in the arts world.
Public Performance Dimension
This critique is based of the literacy dimensions of media remix practices outlined by
Lankshear & Knobel in New Literacies: Everyday Practices and Social Learning.