The Atlas as Method: The Museum in the Age of Image Distribution
With the scope to develop survival strategies out of Covid-19 pandemia, many museums had to re-define their space of representation and turned to digital communication. A common trend was to digitalise collections and archives in order to make these available to visitors. The blurred boundaries between consumption and production in art and social media, and the overwhelming of spaces of visibility questioned the museum as a space of representation towards one of distribution. A prognosis came from the exhibition Supermarket of Images (Jeu de Paume, Paris, 2020) as it raised the issue of the economy of images, of saturation, and of spaces of visibility. The text emphasises the consequences of the role of museum in the time of increased digitalisation. For many commentators, the reference for understanding the changing role of the museum was Malraux’s musée imaginaire which became an icon of a loose understanding of domestic museums. However, staging art at the “level of the image” doesn’t go without consequences and calls for incorporating in museum studies new methodologies. Ultimately the text upholds Warburg’s ‘atlas’ as an imperative to understand the stratification of images and their trade routes and, as a better tool for investigating the museum’s function in the age of image distribution.
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