Thursday, March 31, 2011

Pondering the Possibilities: A Gaze of Ourselves by Olga Herrera


"We see our identities reflected in what we choose the avatar to be, how to dress, how to interact with others, to act, to run, to walk, to stand, to fly."

LVM has increased the presence and educational relevance of the Smithsonian national holdings engaging the latest technology to provide a wide access to its collections of art, cultural history, anthropology, folklore and traditions, archives and music as well as keeping a record of scholarship and research through videos and databases. As a museum without walls online, LVM formulates a new paradigm accessible to all by the click of a mouse allowing visitors to see, hear and interact in an engaging way. The possibilities for community creation are endless due to the inherit tech structure of virtual worlds and avatars. Ideas of presence, relevance and access that LVM Creative Director Melissa Carrillo mentions below, have been critical to our vision and our work at LVM. Of course, the Smithsonian counts with a growing collection of U.S. Latino related art, artifacts, and archival collections, but there is no dedicated physical space that bring together these collections as they are currently found among the permanent collections of its 19 museums and research centers. LVM provides the unprecedented opportunity to create a presence of Latino collections in one single virtual space. The contextualization of these collections in their historical moments and geographical areas are critical to create community and to explore identity in a museum that follows a model of forum rather than temple of culture. This idea of forum is what you encounter at LVM.

Identity and cultural identity are fluid constructs that are constantly evolving and changing just as technology itself. Periodically we go through processes of transculturation as we are exposed on a daily basis to change in our own environments and habitats by media, by personal interactions, by listening to other perspectives. We take from others, we bring our own and we put the two together into something richer and novel. Or from a global point of view we do the selecting, adapting and reinterpreting of new forms of experiences and we incorporate them into our local everyday life and self. In virtual world environment, avatars allow us to live those experiences and adapt through our gaze our own selves. We see our identities reflected in what we choose the avatar to be, how to dress, how to interact with others, to act, to run, to walk, to stand, to fly. And this forum model creates community and access. LVM educational events and environments become only richer because of the contributions of all by sharing meanings and experiences and adapting them to our own.

1 comment:

mmaloney2 said...

Olga,

I enjoyed reading your article. I love the idea of a museum without walls, culture at our fingers and at our leisure.

The avatar experience has forced me think of how I perceive myself. It has given me a glimpse into my "inner" self as I go about the business of choosing clothes and features for my avatar. I have to say, I really enjoy this other dimension of myself that for the most part, had remained unexplored.

Great article! Thank you.