A Book On A Wall

By | October 28, 2014

The methods by which we have displayed works of scholarship have been formed throughout the last century into a specific genre, that of publication. However we have began now to explore different, more creative methods of informing readers and spectators of scholarly information. A prime example of this is the work being done in the exhibition format, a progressive form of scholarly work that is analysed in the work ‘The Exhibition as Product and Generator of Scholarship’. I particularly enjoyed reading¬†Martha Fleming’s chapter on ‘Thinking Through Objects’ in which she gives a detailed comparison of exhibition and publication. Fleming notes that both formats possess and adhere to a specific structure, despite the perception that exhibition is ‘free-form’ and that publication is ‘rigid’. Fleming lists the structural conventions of books and exhibitions as seen below.
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Fleming notes that although the comparative amalgamation of these structures has no inherent significance, “…both constellations make meaning, and this is what is of interest to us as scholars.”¬†She poses some interesting questions on how we perceive intelligence and how we can progress further to broaden our definition of scholarship. Fleming acknowledges the criticisms levelled against exhibition as a form of scholarship, such as the ‘insult’ that it ‘looks like a book on a wall’. However I concur with Fleming’s assertion in response, that these criticisms attack only the perception of exhibition, not it’s actual ability to translate scholarship. She notes the work of Jean Clair and Michel Foucault in the extent to which exhibition and publication can unify and inform each other, to find a balance that accurately translates information in a scholarly way. It will be interesting to see how this medium continues to grow and expand in the future, alongside other new and developing formats that question the publication’s long held reign as the sole medium for scholarship.

One thought on “A Book On A Wall

  1. shannon Post author

    Great, Oliver! For those of us accustomed to written scholarship, it can be helpful to think about how we might translate the parts of a book or article into elements of an exhibition — how to “spatialize” an argument. But an exhibition is its own medium, with its own affordances. As you suggest, we need to attempt to step outside the typographic mindset to consider what new forms of inquiry and argument the exhibition-as-scholarship allows.


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