Museums and the Web

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The API as Curator

TitleThe API as Curator
Publication TypeConference Paper
Year of Publication2008
AuthorsStraup Cope, A.
Secondary TitleMuseums and the Web 2008. Proceedings
Conference Start DateApril 9-12, 2008
PublisherArchives & Museum Informatics
Place PublishedMontreal, Quebec, Canada
EditorTrant, J., & Bearman D.
KeywordsAPI, community, internet, practice, programming, theory

Artists and master-printers have a long and rich tradition of collaboration and it is instructive to consider the Internet through the prism of printmaking. The art and craft of printmaking affords a collapsing of barriers not only between production and distribution but also between the traditional role of "craftsman" and artist. We will always have master printers and continue to be the better for it, but no one begrudges an artist the effort of learning the same skills solely in the pursuit of their own work. Computer programming is the acid bath of the Internet. In its purest form it can be harsh and threatening but it is also the vehicle that allows a cold sheet of metal becomes a lush and absorbent canvas. All artists operate in the space between being experts in the mechanics of their medium -- few printmakers are also chemical engineers -- and merely consumers of prefabricated tools. We are still a long way from finding the craft in computers which isn't to say that we all need to learn programming; only that we should afford the practice more attention in order to give artists the tools to explore and shape a networked world and to bend those tools in to newer one just as artists began doing with photography two hundred years ago. By encouraging the same latitude of understanding to the gory details that govern the Internet we explode the bottleneck that has distorted a vast horizon of creation, collaboration and above all mystery. To borrow William Gibson's phrase, to help artists "find their own use for things."