MWX 2014

MWX is Museums and the Web’s new exhibition initiative. Curated by Dr. Vince Dziekan, MWX has brought innovative digital art and experiences to Museums and the Web conferences since 2012 to inspire museum technologists and push the boundaries of how we use our tools.

The MW2014 conference program also includes sessions on the MWX theme of “Curating Transformation / Transforming Curation” featuring written papers and presentations on the topic of transformative practices in museum studies, digital curating and contemporary curatorial practice.

cover image for the MWX exhibition announcement 228w" sizes="(max-width: 584px) 100vw, 584px" />Artworks

Jenny Holzer, from Truisms (1977-79), 2014

Instant messaging via mobile app. MWX2014, Museums and the Web 2014 conference, Baltimore, Maryland, USA, April 2–5, 2014. © Jenny Holzer/ARS. 2014

Jenny Holzer, Please Change Beliefs (1995-1998)

Originally presented via äda’web, Please Change Beliefs is presented at MW2014 on an assortment of vintage computers, generously loaned to the conference by Rob Lancefield and Bob Roswell of SYSSRC.

Dan Deacon, Mobile performance (2014)

Museums and the Web 2014 welcome reception, Baltimore Museum of Art, April 2, 2014.

Mark Amerika, Cloud Banks (2012-13)

Cloud Banks was originally commissioned by the Kasa Galeri and Sabanci University, Istanbul under the direction of Lanfranco Aceti.


For more than thirty years, Jenny Holzer has presented her astringent ideas, arguments, and sorrows in public places and international exhibitions, including 7 World Trade Center, the Reichstag, the Venice Biennale, the Guggenheim Museums in New York and Bilbao, and the Whitney Museum of American Art. Her medium, whether formulated as a T-shirt, plaque, or LED sign, is writing, and the public dimension is integral to the delivery of her work. Starting in the 1970s with the New York City posters, and up to her recent light projections, her practice has rivaled ignorance and violence with humor, kindness, and moral courage. Holzer has received the Leone d’Oro at the Venice Biennale (1990), the Crystal Award from the World Economic Forum (1996) and the Barnard Medal of Distinction (2011).

Baltimore based composer Dan Deacon is a fixture of the American underground music scene. Deacon is renowned for his live shows that involve large-scale audience participation and interaction. He has performed at leading music festivals (such as SXSW, Pitchfork and Coachella) and art venues, including the Barbican Centre, Carnegie Hall, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Getty Center, and the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden. His latest album America (2012) was released on Domino Records.

Mark Amerika is a leading new media artist whose work has been exhibited internationally at venues such as the Whitney Biennial of American Art, Walker Art Center, the Denver Art Museum, and the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London. He is the author of books including remixthebook (University of Minnesota Press, 2011) and META/DATA: A Digital Poetics (The MIT Press, 2007). Amerika is a Professor of Art and Art History at the University of Colorado at Boulder.

X-ing the Exhibition

“Sx hx, Jxhn! hxw nxw? Txld yxu sx, yxu knxw. Dxn’t crxw, anxthertime, befxre yxu’re xut xf the wxxds!“

So begins a fictive newspaper article embedded within one of Edgar Allan Poe’s last pieces of writing. Published just months before his death in Baltimore in 1849, X-ing a paragrab eschews the familiar macabre motifs of his more famous stories, substituting them for an intrigue built upon typographic “characters” and subverted meaning.

The story begins with Mr. Touch-and-go Bullet-head, editor, who upon newly arriving in Alexander-the- Great-o-nopolis launches The Tea-Pot, thus setting himself on a collision course with the city’s established newspaper and its editor John Smith. Their professional jealousy is sparked by Smith’s caustic criticism of Bullet-head’s penchant for (over-)using the letter “O” in his leading article. Mr B. responds resolutely to the challenge by composing an article of unparalleled virtuosity that celebrates the excessive use of the contentious, indeed, offensive letter. However, upon entrusting the copy of his completed draft to the printer, the text takes an expected turn. While preparing the manuscript for press, the typesetter discovers that there are no O’s in the type case (suspicion falling here, of course, on an act of thievery by staff from the competition’s printing office) so proceeds to substitute the missing Os with Xs (of which there is a surplus). When it appears in print the next day, the resulting editorial becomes something of a sensation, inciting widespread public fascination over deciphering the secret meaning of the cryptographic text.

Poe’s short story reflects his anxiety for the loss of authorial control as the handwritten word gave way to mechanical forms of printing and mass communica- tion. Might it also serve as something of a parable for us in an age where the slogan has assumed the mantle of a cultural form, and flippantly cast off 140-character pronouncements masquerade as public discourse?

As one of the defining artists of our generation, Jenny Holzer’s work is characterized by its focus on words and language. This committed intervention with social representation is exemplified by her earliest public works, Truisms (1977-79), in which she confounds the apparent logic of these statements and their role in public discourse through a tactic that art critic and historian Hal Foster once described as ‘subversive complicity’. While on one hand demonstrating how the power of words is exercised by the craft of writing, perhaps more importantly Holzer’s work exemplifies how empowerment might be achieved through the act of critical reading.

As one Truism would have it, are the most profound things inexpressible? Together with recent works by Dan Deacon and Mark Amerika – plus an expanded discursive programme made up of papers and forums focusing on curating transformation – this year’s installment of MWX encourages us to read between the lines…

Vince Dziekan, Curator, MWX

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