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Art Assignment Book

NB: This assignment assumes the ownership of or access to a smartphone, digital camera, or other camera-enabled device. If you do not own such a device or can’t access one, please talk to me; I’ll give you one. It also assumes your personal use of social media networks such as Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram. Sorry, folks. 

1) Fieldwork (Real World, Part I): Visit an art museum, gallery, or attend a live play or musical event that permits recordings/photography. (Note: Please check museum/gallery/venue websites to confirm institutional photography policies; please remain mindful of those policies, as they are often driven by moral and legal concerns for artists’ intellectual property rights.)

2) Fieldwork (Real World, Part II): Take a self portrait or ‘selfie’ with your smartphone—ideally, take a series of selfies.Make a mental note or two about how you’re feeling while taking the self portraits in the gallery space. Is anyone reacting to you? If so, how are they reacting to you? (i.e. Are they watching you? Are they speaking to you? Are they ignoring you?) How does it feel to be reacted to (or not reacted to)? How does you feel, physically, in relationship to other people and artworks around you? Does your own behavior feel ‘natural’ to you? Why so? Why not?

Find a quiet (or otherwise suitable) place to reflect upon your experience; make some notes. Jot down the date, time, and location in which your selfie was shot. Reflect upon the questions asked above. Write about what you saw and how it made you feel. 

3) Fieldwork (Online): Post your ‘selfie’ to your own social media account (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram). Note the reactions it receives from your ‘friends’ or followers in the digital space.

4) Critical Analysis: Write a field report that discusses your experience both in taking the selfies, and in posting the selfies to your social media accounts. This report should include the following:

  • Image: I’ll need to see your selfie(s), please. (Embed the image in your Word doc or PDF; no attachments, please.)

  • Metadata: The date, place, and time your selfie was taken

  • Critical Analysis: 1,500 word written analysis that details your experience with in-gallery photography. Please compare/contrast that experience with the reaction you received (or didn’t receive!) from your ‘friends’ or followers online. How did it make you feel? What bigger cultural observations can you make about the use and/or abuse of social media within the arts organization based on this experience? Please make those observations in this brief essay.

Assigned by Sarah Hromack to graduate students in New York University’s Arts Administration program. Course title: 'Digital Technologies and the Art Organization: From Strategy to Practice’; Spring 2014 semester.

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