Exploring Google Arts and Culture

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First of all, the home page doesn’t make it very clear what is the focus of the whole project or how it wants to draw the viewer’s attention. In other words, I don’t feel like I’m curated. On the top of the homepage, there is the Virtual Tour of 10 Top Museums, as the title of this section says, which makes this part look like Google’s effort to digitalize the space and artworks in museums to promote the artworks’ transmission. However, the focus on technology immediately fades away when the designer puts the two Cultural Heritage Module under the Virtual Tour part: “Preserving Maya Heritage” and “8 Fascinating Communities Around the World.” Though still maintaining a worldwide view, this part is marked by using the traditional form of feature stories to mediate cultures around the world. Therefore, even on the front page, there are already too many focuses: technology, news, art, and culture, the problems of which continue to emerge throughout the homepage.

Another thing that I didn’t get about Google Art Project is how it makes categorization. Unlike the traditional ways of categorization including time, movement, school of painting, Google Art Project categorizes by medium and color. Under medium, there are hundreds of sub-categories, including some interesting ones like fiberglass, seashell, and walnut. On the one hand, this new method of categorization makes the viewers realize the various perspectives one could have in viewing the art world; on the other hand, categorizing with medium also makes one wonder whether it is effective in helping the reader to discover new layers of meaning in the artwork.

Going into the walnut categories, one would find paintings, furniture, sculptures, but none of them help to interpret other objects. They are put on the website as isolated objects. It seems to me that categorizing by medium does not help much in helping one to discover different layers of meaning in a specific object. However, it still points to different possible perspectives that one may take to view the world of artworks.