We were so excited to catch up this week with Joey Herring, Assistant Curator of Collections and Exhibitions at the Museum of Photographic Arts in San Diego. With crazy advances in technology, the worlds of both photography and museums have changed remarkably in recent years, so it is always fantastic to get some perspective from someone who works around both every day!
How do you think technology--like the iPhone--is changing both the photographic arts and the museum-going experience, and are these changes for better or for worse? How has the job of curating changed with these advances?
It’s a double edged sword. I think technology does a great job in the museum environment of helping visitors interact and engage with the museum in new ways. Augmented reality, guided tours tailored to your viewing interests, and loads of additional content all from your own mobile device are really fantastic. On the other hand it seems like more and more these days our experiences are filtered through our devices. I was in Chicago over the weekend and visited the Art Institute. Standing in front of Seurat’s A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte, I stood there watching people look at the painting only through the screens of their iPhones or even worse their iPads (my biggest pet peeve). They snap their photo, maybe take a selfie, and then it’s on to the next one. It’s like big game hunting for art. A lot of them never actually looked at the work with their own eyes. As a curator, I’m interested in how I can use technology to get people to engage directly with the work of art instead of through an intermediary. I think audio guides are still one of the best tools because it frees the visitors' eyes to focus on the work in front of them instead of the screen.
Minor White laying out the exhibition Celebrations. 1974. Image courtesy of George Peet
What is the best part of your job? Favorite exhibition you've worked on?
The exhibition that we just finished installing, "The Time Between: The Sequences of Minor White", is one of my favorites. It is the first museum exhibition to focus on this body of work by Minor White and we are fortunate to be working with the Princeton University Art Museum, Portland Art Museum, The Museum of Fine Arts Houston and private collections to bring these works together for the first time.
Who do you think are the most exciting photographers working right now?
Photography is really in a golden age with so many talented artists using the medium in their practices. I particularly am drawn to artists whose work emphasizes the uniqueness of the photographic object, which is often overlooked today with the ubiquitousness of digital photography. Artists like Chris McCaw, David Emitt Adams and Binh Danh.
Chris McCaw's San Francisco Sunburn
LIVES IN San Diego, CA
WORKS IN Balboa Park. The largest urban cultural park in the U.S. Home to 15 museums, performing arts venues, beautiful gardens and the San Diego Zoo.
OCCUPATION Assistant Curator of Collections and Exhibitions, Museum of Photographic Arts.
ON THE CLOCK / First thing’s first, caffeinate. Sort emails, return phone calls. Beyond that, each day usually has something different in store for me. It’s the nature of the position. I could be researching for an upcoming exhibition, writing or editing text, cataloging library materials, leading a tour. That’s really what I love about my job is the diversity of assignments.
YOUR ART WEEKEND The Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego has a world class collection and always puts on fantastic exhibitions at their two locations in San Diego. The gallery scene in San Diego & Tijuana has seen a lot of growth over the last few years and now there are thriving arts districts in the region. So now I'm likely to be bouncing between 4 or 5 openings on a night where maybe 5 years you'd be lucky if there was one. Or if I feel the urge to sit in traffic I’ll head up to LA to visit their museums and galleries.
ALBUM I’m missing London at the moment so I have "Quadrophenia" by The Who and "Too Much Information" by Maxïmo Park on rotation.
FILM Uncle Buck or anything with John Candy.
ARTIST Too hard to choose one but William Eggleston is the artist that got me interested in photography when I was in high school.
BOOK Well part of my job is to manage the museum's library that has a collection of over 25,000 volumes all dedicated to the photographic arts so it would be like picking between my children. The book I'm currently reading is Noah Charney's Stealing the Mystic Lamb.
EATS a California Burrito
LATEST PURCHASE a California Burrito
GUILTY PLEASURE Binge watching Gilmore Girls while eating a California Burrito.
GRADE IN ART CLASS A
36 HOURS Sleep for all of it.
SUGARLIFT PICK Lizzie Gill, Crown Jewels