Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Brooklyn Museum -- Click! We're all curators

"The mermaid has been drinking" (repost), Tim Connor, All rights reserved

The upcoming Click! show at the Brooklyn Museum raises the question: Can the average person tell the difference between an outstanding photo & a ho hum wannabe? To find out, the Museum has invited the internet masses (that's us) to be online judges for the 389 submissions to the show. Interested "crowd-curators" can get started here.

This is the rationale: "Taking its inspiration 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 whether Surowiecki’s premise can be applied to the visual arts—is a diverse crowd just as 'wise' at evaluating art as the trained experts?"

I think it's an interesting question. To its credit, Click! is soliciting its public judges at every level of viewing sophistication, & will include the various ratings with the pictures. But the website is a little vague about what gets into the final show, what doesn't & who decides? Where do the "expert individuals" come in? Are they going to be professional curators or just people who say they're experts? Is it possible all 389 pictures are automatically in the final show?

So far I've rated several hundred, & I have to tell you: I hope not.

On the other hand, the judging process seems straightforward & above-board. Admirable care is taken to make clear that the simple registration & optional email reminder system is not a trap to collect addresses (as though the organizers really do want broad feedback). Those who enter contests, as I sometimes do, will probably find illuminating the behind-the-scenes glimpses of an open-call's raw materials. What is the quality of the competition? How are entrants interpreting the assignment (in this case it's :"The changing face(s) of Brooklyn")? What do other photographers write about their work?

Click! judging goes on till May 23rd. If , between now & then, you're intrigued enough to join the jury, please look for my picture. It's the one above (the prim & sedate one from the Mermaid Parade). If you like it, I hope you'll rate it highly.

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