Making the public the curator – Brooklyn Museum

Click! A Crowd-Curated Exhibition, featuring photographs curated by 3,344 members of the public during an innovative online jury process, will be on view at Brooklyn Museum starting June 27 through August 10, 2008.

Click! began in March with an open call inviting artists to submit a work of photography in response to the exhibition’s theme, “Changing Faces of Brooklyn.” Three hundred eighty-nine photographers responded by electronically submitting one image, accompanied by a 100-word artist statement, via the Brooklyn Museum Web site. At the conclusion of the open call, the general public was asked to evaluate the submissions during a six-week period using the Web site.

The inspiration for the exhibition comes from the critically acclaimed book The Wisdom of Crowds, in which New Yorker business and financial columnist James Surowiecki asserts that a diverse crowd is often wiser at making decisions than expert individuals. Click! explores Surowiecki’s central idea in the context of visual art.

In accordance with Surowiecki’s theories, the evaluation tool was designed to promote objectivity and minimize peer influence: each of the 389 photographs was displayed without artist attribution and at random for each evaluator, and artists were unable to forward links of individual submissions to friends and family. A diverse crowd of international evaluators-not only from Brooklyn, but across the U.S. and beyond-submitted more than 400,000 individual responses to the photographs and left more than 3,000 comments during the process. Click! will culminate in an exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum, where the photographs will be installed according to their relative ranking by the crowd of curators.

Click! culminated in an exhibition at the Museum, where the artworks were installed according to their relative ranking from the juried process. Visitors will also be able to see how different groups within the crowd evaluated the same works of art. The results will be analyzed and discussed by experts in the fields of art, online communities, and crowd theory.


Then there are some interesting reflections on the project here:


In particular – the role of the curator really is quite contentious!

July 23, 2008

Crowd-Curated or Crowd-Juried?  by Kevin Stayton (edited)

We think that perhaps what the crowd was asked to do here was to jury the selection—that is, to rank the works that were submitted so that a selection could be made on the basis of that ranking. That is sometimes the first step toward curating an exhibition, but only the first step. Once an initial selection is made, the curator usually begins to refine the idea of the exhibition and to see how the ideas represented by the objects selected best work together, and how placing certain works side by side, or across the room from one another can have an impact on the way we perceive them, and thus help to advance the theme and the learning experience. Further “curating” is done by explaining in written form in the labels some of the ideas the installation conveys visually.

So if the crowd juried the images, how was it curated? And what was the idea curated?

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