Hi Johannes and everyone
So many interesting issues are being discussed, but just getting back on your question Johannes:
Can I ask Jeremy what he meant by his comment?
>>I find Charlie's comment about anthropological museums particularly interesting because of the approaches adopted in (online) museums dealing with the intangible culture of First People. My impression is that in such contexts viewer interactivity, so highly valued elswhere, is heavily qualified in favour of privileging the voice of the indigenous culture. >>>>
Are you saying the works are not interactive enough, or in Jon's sense "controllable" enough? The audience is underprivileged? This is fascinating material for all postcolonial discussions, surely.
My earlier comment came out of collaborating with Saskia Vermeylen on some work about the San, formerly hunter gatherers, in Southern Africa in the context of debates about the responsibility of museums regarding indigenous peoples.
One of our starting points was a comment in a 1997 paper 'The Web and the Unassailable Voice' where Walsh commented that a presence on the web might mitigate the effects of the "unassailable voice" of museums.
The ways in which this mitigation may happen through visitor interaction has been widely discussed, particularly in the context of enabling visitors to become involved in classification and access processes (e.g creating tags) to museum content.
What interests me are the modifications to such processes when the issue of challenging the ways in which museums classify, display and value culture is engaged with in the context of (re)presenting indigenous cultures. This is done, in my view correctly, with the aim of trying to contribute to the recognition of the narratives of First Peoples. As an aside I acknowledge that referring to narratives of indigenous cultures raises its own set of issues.
However, for present purposes I am intrigued by the ways in which discussions about the intangibility of 'time-based', or 'new media' art and its presence in museums differ in various ways from those about how intangible indigenous cultural practices are preserved/recovered.
It seems to me that moving between the respective discourses contributes to revealing the differing emphases placed on the various values expressed in curatorial practices, and for recognizing how those values are realised (e.g. the ways in which visitor interaction is enabled through interfaces to online museums).