Museums as Mediators & Mirrors


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         Throughout history museums have played a large role in mediating communication on multiple levels. The process of in-depth critique and analysis museums constantly face as a part of on-going dialogue around content, programming, design, etc – continue to promote unity and change. Is it possible that Museums serve as a good mediator because of the criticism that they are subject to? McClellan points out despite critics who claim museums are rigid in their structure, the high amount of criticism from activists and academics beginning in the late 1960s lead to important dialogue and concerns being addressed and attitudes have evolved (11).
         In today’s constantly evolving high-tech world, the need for unity and peace is stronger than ever. As noted by McClellan, art museums “extend hope for mutual understanding grounded in the common traits of world art traditions” (10). Due to this, it is no surprise museum attendance rates are growing as people are desperate to seek an escape from current reality, as well as gain understanding from history. The museum is serving a function as mediator between observer and noise of the outside world.
           Keeping the outside world out – is a concept in the Art System. Galleries (as well as other art spaces throughout history) strive to detach the viewer from the concept of time entirely. O’Doherty explains that the white cube represents “a transitional device that attempted to bleach out the past and at the same time control the future by appealing to transcendental modes of presence and power” (12). Removal of the concept of time creates an idea of the art space as sacred, unattached, or transcendent. What is interesting about the idea of the white cube as a transcendent space, is the opposing idea of the black mirror (technology). When we look at art today in museums (as we discussed last class) we are not looking at it alone. We are accompanied by our phones which attach us to another space. The technology space also drastically effects how we perceive time in that we subconsciously spend more time in the online world than the real world. Can the idea of the white cube really exist as long as we have the black mirror attached to us?