Different interpretive interfaces in art

The Museum is the first interface we got in touch with in this semester. By visiting it, we viewed lots of artworks through wandering on our feet, in the space where artworks exhibited. The interpretive function of museum ties deeply with our personal experience. Interpreting becoming a progress of discovering, under the hint of curator’s hints. A special factor of the imply is space: how the works are arranged indicated their relationship with each other.

In most time, the works showed in same small room share similar period or genre. When we were in national gallery, we can see how the style of paintings developed alongside the path. Another commonly seen pattern is how the contradiction between artworks (either style or the context it represented) could be shown in the museum. Last weekend, I went to the exhibition Empresses of China’s Forbidden City. In one room of that exhibition, portraits of two different empresses are hanged on two opposite walls. One painting shows an empress famous for being a virtuous and beloved emperor’s wife, and another portrays an empress dowager famous for her wisdom and political influence. By presenting the two artworks in this position, the curator is indicating the contradiction between love and power in the empress’s life. This setting also reminds me of the trip at Philips Collection. When we see the Mondrian’s works in different period was presented in oppression, we can clearly feel the strong change in his style.

However, in other kinds of interpretive interfaces of artworks, the possibilities of discovery and multiple interprets passed. Book, also serves as an interface, couldn’t presents artworks in the three-dimensional space. What we got here is illustration presented in one and only one sequence, for one and only purpose. While the visitors enjoy a time-passing conversation with curator, readers are no longer in a dialogue with the writers, but only accept what he gets and listen to the book’s teaching.

The online interfaces claim promising a simulation museum experience, yet it is not the same. On one hand, through several movement on keyboard or mouse, online interface gives us ability to zooming and browsing artworks as   will. The nonlinear experience beyond space provides us an illusion of freedom. We can even easily build our own structure if we like. But what we got is only the “didactic objects”, showing what the artworks looks like, and that is all. We are interacting with the appearance of an artwork and the information carries by it, but never the real one.