Sunday, April 27, 2008

Click, a crowd-curated exhibition

Brooklyn Museum is trying an interesting experiment in crowd-curation of a photography exhibition
Click has three phases: 1) A call for entries, now ended 2) A phase of audience evaluation, just begun 3) the hanging of the favourites, ranked in order of audience preference, on show in the Museum from June 27th.

The great thing about the process is that it is international - we are all invited to evaluate photos wherever we live, via the website. Many participatory projects about particular localities feel more exclusive. I felt motivated to try the evaluation because I knew that I'd be contributing to the curation of a real exhibition, not just adding comments onto something that will only live online. And inside many museum & gallery educators there's a curator wanting to get out, or at least there is in me.

I can see this kind of experiment taking off elsewhere. For more detailed commentary on it see the must-read Museum 2.0 blog: Nina writes about how the exhibition is informed by research into the power of the crowd and how the Brooklyn curators wanted to avoid evaluators being influenced by others. So, there is no visibility at all of anybody else's ratings. It's just you, and a sliding scale that you apply whilst keeping some questions in mind.

I spent half an hour this morning, merrily wielding the sliding scale up and down in instant judgement on 350 photos. Some of them were terrible. Some of them were mediocre. A tiny few were really quite good. (But I was quite generous in my ratings.) The only way to improve the quality of the photos submitted, and to discourage crowd-influencing and cliche in the images, is to repeat or extend the project and to enable plenty of critical debate about what makes an effective photograph.