The typical museum experience is controlled. A pathway describes a route from one artwork to another, each illustrated by its label and narrated by an audio tour. However, three exhibitions currently on view in Chicago invite the visitor to engage in a less predictable process.

Detail of Academic Connections: Media Atlas, 2014, an undertaking of Professor W.J.T. Mitchell’s Theories of Media class students, in a gallery at the Smart Museum of the University of Chicago. Photo: Saul Rosenfield.

At the University of Chicago’s Smart Museum of Art, visual-culture scholar W.J.T. Mitchell and the students of his “Theories of Media” class have colonized a gallery to realize a contemporary version of German art historian Aby Warburg‘s Mnemosyne Atlas (1925–1929). The result is what Mitchell calls a “media atlas.” Each student was invited to choose an image, describe why, and tack the image and the description to a wall covered in black fabric. Warburg sought to uncover the interconnections among forms and around themes that he observed resonating throughout history. Like Mitchell’s students, he pinned images of paintings, sculptures, buildings, and cultural ephemera, including magazines and newspaper photographs, to black panels. The resonances among the images on a particular panel …read more

Source: Daily Serving