April 3, 2014  |  MoMA Teen Takeover
MoMA Teens Take Over Inside/Out: Capturing the Mona Lisa…Without Ever Seeing It
The crowds surrounding the Mona Lisa. Photo credit Ana Inciardi

The crowds surrounding the Mona Lisa, Louvre Museum, Paris. Photo by Ana Inciardi

People shuffle around the gallery next to priceless pieces of art. Why are they here? Phones brought them here. The motive in going to a museum nowadays has evolved. The camera not only captures the piece of art, but also the wandering aesthete who clutches the camera at an arm’s length away from his or her face. What does one do with such pictures, you might ask. Post them online, of course. There, the love of a painting and the love of a self become fruitful in the multiple reblogs, likes, and retweets that appear on a screen.

Is taking pictures of art on a phone vain? Is it egotistical? Do these pictures depict an arising self-appreciation art movement? Aren’t you supposed to be looking at the art instead of making memories for yourself even though you will never print those pictures and frame them yourself? The art is just trapped in a memory file that will never be used for anything half as great as the piece of art that was abducted and abused by that very phone. Are you supposed to be doing anything in a museum? Questions.

Although the hovering of screens and their systematic snapshots of art are likely to be found at every gallery, they don’t exactly mitigate the art-viewing experience as one would think. Pictures of art you have seen in real life can supplement your experience at the museum itself. By taking pictures and posing next to art, one puts himself or herself into the context of the piece. In this way, you define yourself to the piece rather than internalizing it.

Technology has taken over in museums as well. Audio guides, television screens, even Atari games can be found as part of an exhibit. There is an exhibit at MoMA where popular video games of the last couple of decades can be played by two museum-goers. This gaming experience gives a more approachable feel and less of a stern air to the galleries. All these elements can bring people closer together and create a more thorough experience of going to a museum.

Museums have always housed the works of many artists and the eager eyes of art viewers. As technology has been eased into the institution, it has become the people’s decision if technology takes away from a museum’s integrity or makes it more fulfilling. As for the seas of people that flock towards the Louvre each day, this may not be their number-one concern when its finally their moment to snap a picture of Mona Lisa.

– Laura

Photo Illustration by Kaitlyn Stubbs

Photo Illustration by Kaitlyn Stubbs

Photo Illustration by Kaitlyn Stubbs

Photo Illustration by Kaitlyn Stubbs

Technology today, such as Instagram, and Tumblr, is more prevalent than ever before. There are so many advantages to these websites, however museum-going has been dampened because of them. In a sense, having a cell phone constantly turned on ruins the immersion of being in a museum. My mother used to always accuse me of constantly being “plugged in” to my electronic device without taking a second glance at the artwork.

The woman turned towards the painting and opened up her phone and quickly snapped the picture. The crowed shoved and pushed, all competing for the front row. For the first time in a while I was certainly glad that my small figure of five foot two inches was coming in handy. I quickly made my way to the front of the line amongst the shuffling and the blinding flashes from hundreds of cameras and was able to snap a picture on my camera before being shoved out of the way.

My mother was waiting for me at the other end of the room. It was only after stepping out of the room that I realized I never actually glanced at the Mona Lisa without looking through the viewfinder.

– Shulian

The authors, from left: Laura Blaszczak, Shulian Murray-Hilton

The authors, from left: Laura Blaszczak, Shulian Murray-Hilton

This week, every post on Inside/Out is created by participants in the MoMA + MoMA PS1 Cross-Museum Collective, a behind-the-scenes program for teenage alumni of our In the Making studio-art classes. Over the course of the 16-week project, the participating teens work with educators, curators, security staff, conservators, and other Museum staff to gain hands-on experience across a number of fields. In addition, they create collaborative artwork with a range of contemporary artists. More info can be found HERE and HERE. Info on our 2014 free summer art courses for teens is available now.

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