This weekend I took a trip into NYC to visit a friend called Amie and spend a bit of time at the MoMA. During our adventure, Amie and I noticed that many visitors to the museum were not spending much time looking at the work, rather they were busy capturing. We were amazed at the number of people who were using digital cameras and cellphones to take photographs of each piece of art on the gallery walls. They would travel from piece to piece, cataloging their MoMA experience.
I am not sure the reason behind taking home a digital pocket-version of each work. It seemed as though they were spending more time looking at the screens on their cameras than at the actually works in front of them. I wonder whether people are more comfortable looking at reality through the mediation of the digital screen, or if they needed some sort of pixel proof that they had once stood in front of a Kirschner or a Jasper Johns. Amie’s best guess was that people simply cannot shake their role as consumers, and these ravenous image-eaters needed something to take away from the experience. This is especially absurd considering that Amie was stopped twice by museum security- once for drinking water and again for making a quick phone call to report this phenomena… all while, no less than three, people in the same room stood in front of paintings with their cameras. One cannot speak or drink in the museum, while others wander around reproducing the museum byte-by-byte.
I suppose the admission cost for the back-of-camera MoMA is significantly cheaper, but of course there is no café or gift shop.
why settle for just looking and experiencing, when one can make some small claim of ownership?