“Wonder” Field Trip

IMG_5187See details on Calendar for Wed. 6 April. Read prior posts, then create your own New Post (pencil button top right).

Maura Judkis cites a research study showing that taking photographs hampered students’ ability to recall details from a museum visit, suggesting that they turned off practices of observation and noticing when using the camera (except, interestingly, when asked to take some zoomed in detail shots).

Does this comport with your experience at the Wonder exhibit?  What did you think worth photographing, and why?  (Share one shot with us!)  Did photography (your own or others’) interfere with your experience with the art?   Here’s my response to get you going:

Personally, I normally find all other visitors’ behaviors distracting and annoying in almost any museum!  Most distracting to me are the audio tours on headphones or cellphones, which are always too loud–all I can hear is that buzzing sound. I think I’m also annoyed with the ways others enjoy museums:  I’d rather spend my museum time experiencing the art rather than learning about it (which I can do later w/ internet or books). I’m also annoyed when others take pictures, not that it’s bothering me per se, but that they usually take a shot and move on.  Why did the come to the museum in the first place?  But then again, I’m annoyed with parents who watch their child’s entire skating performance or volleyball match through a camera screen and miss seeing it live. So this is not, for me, so much about art vs. photography as being about experience in the present tense vs. trying to capture the experience for later. And I’m judgmental enough to think anybody a fool who doesn’t take advantage of the experience of encountering art first-hand on those rare occasions when they have a chance.


In the case of Wonder, my main annoyance was with the idea that any pictures I took would be simply generic versions of the same ones everybody else took!  That shot up top?  It’s the one everybody took.  Very cool. But Still.  But I took some anyway. Here’s a meta-shot of my wife trying to get that same shot.  (She’s 4’10”.)

One thing I did do to break pattern was to walk briefly to the right side of that big tree thing, looking at it from underneath and to the empty side, where nobody was walking (were we told to stay left? I didn’t see any guards directing us there….). I also took some detail shots.  But no selfies!

What do you think? Create a new post, add a photo (or more) you took, and give us your thoughts.


One thought on ““Wonder” Field Trip”

  1. Daniel Rolen
    Renwick Post
    Daniel Rolen
    The Renwick

    I went to the Renwick at one of its busiest times; having gone on a Friday afternoon I found myself walking to the end of the block in order to gain admittance into the gallery. As I walked along this line it was rare to spot someone who was older than 40 years old. The line also seemed to be riddled with couples in their 20’s and young students eager to see the trendy exhibit. The line moved relatively quickly and I was in the museum in what seemed like 8 minutes. As I entered the museum I began to realize why it had taken so short. Minimal time was being spent observing the art for the most part. Aside from a few people laying down observing the fishnet ceiling, people would search for an appropriate angle for a photo, take several and move on. I felt that the museum wasn’t necessarily being enjoyed, but instead being used. People went there in order to feel trendy or to make themselves appear to appreciate art as they continually posted their photographs onto various social media websites.
    The art here has not necessarily helped me better understand how I interpret images in my project, but instead how people interact with images. It showed me in a small sample size how images can compel people to act in a certain way and behave differently. It created a mass chain of perception and created a cultural experience that people deemed necessary and I feel like I can apply that lesson to my project.

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