Saturday, February 20th, 2010
Alright – if you haven’t already heard – I recently ended my 9 1/2 year tenure at the San Jose Museum of Art as the Manager of Interactive Technology. It was a bittersweet event because at one point I felt that it was the greatest job I ever had. It was very fulfilling, creative, art related – it was perfect! I had struggled all my life trying to find a so-called “career” and felt that I had finally found it. Unfortunately, my hours were cut December of 2008 to half-time. This pretty much took the wind out of my sails. 20 hours a week was not enough to do the technology related projects that I wanted to do.
Over the course of the last year, however, a great opportunity presented itself which I couldn’t pass up. During this period of working part-time I started consulting for a mobile start-up called Toura that is changing the way museums create mobile tours (more info forthcoming). After 5 months of fulfilling and exciting work with Toura they offered me a full-time position as Program Director. The company’s ideas and philosophies align very well with my thoughts on mobile technology and museums so it was a perfect fit.
Since my website is so centered on the work that I did at the San Jose Museum of Art I thought it would be nice to go through and sum up what I feel are some highlights of my time there.
First off, I’m extremely proud of winning two MUSE awards. One was for our Artist of the Week podcast that we did in 2006. We were so green at that point it came as a great surprise, but my colleague Lucy and I felt that we were producing a quality product and winning the award validated our efforts. The second MUSE Award, Gold in the category of PR/Development, came recently in 2009 for our Road Trip/Giant Artichoke video that we produced for the exhibition Road Trip at SJMA. It was the most fun we had on a project. It was a big departure for us from the artist centric audio and video content we had been creating. The narrative nature of the video required us to storyboard, film on location and really tighten up on our editing. The results were very rewarding.
Over the years I’ve worked with a variety of mobile delivery methods for audio and video content. Cell phones, Video iPods in Notes-Only Mode, and lastly iPod Touch/iPhone. The iPod Touch tour we launched in 2008 was one of the first of its kind. While I realized at the time it was an important accomplishment, I didn’t realize how many doors and exciting opportunities it would open.
Because of the launch or this iPod Touch tour, in September of 2008 I found myself at the Tate Modern in London presenting about SJMA’s mobile experiences to an audience of international museums. It was one of the most rewarding professional experiences I think that I have had to date. At the conference I met and befriended the most incredible and creative group of people. All have helped to shape my knowledge on the subject.
Finally, I think my videography and editing skills hit a high point on one of my last big project for SJMA. For our Ansel Adams exhibition we solicited the general public to submit Ansel Adams inspired photographs to a special Flickr group. The images collected in that group were displayed in the Adams exhibition on an interactive kiosk. The main vehicle for this exhibition was a video that I shot in Yosemite. Shot in black and white the video features footage of classic Adams imagery cut with footage of visitors taking photos. At the end the question, “Are you the next great photographer?” is posed with instructions for submittal. The video has a sombre feeling and to me is reminiscent of the black and white footage in Woody Allen’s Manhattan (wishful thinking maybe).
So now I enter the world of museum vendors. I have had nothing but a positive experience with Toura. It’s rewarding and exciting working with multiple museums to help them get their message and content out to their visitors. Toura is about enabling museums so that they can efficiently create mobile tours in a cost effective way – something that is important these days. While some vendors have a bad rap, there are some that are conscious of the financial burdens and internal struggles that museums face on a daily basis. My part at Toura has been and will continue to be the voice of the museum.