Alternate Academia

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by Ariel Hudes

Alternate Academia: An Exhibition of Project Remnants

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Curatorial Statement

The Basics:

"One of the ways Brown is special is that here students are challenged to draw academic conclusions in nontraditional ways. Instead of conventional papers or finals, students are often asked to create videos, performances, or blogs as markers of their academic progress.This kind of creative work permeates beyond class work, too; "doing art projects" is a culture of its own here, and for many students, it's these kind of academic and independent projects which define their college experience. As a prospective student - especially one planning to pursue a concentration in the humanities---you won't have a full picture of what life at Brown is going to be like (and how it is going to be different than it would be at other schools) until you experience some of these projects. Alternate Academia is an exhibition of remnants from some such projects which will help you understand the work students are doing here - even if you can't be on campus when they are happening live.Since you can't always get here when these projects are happening in class or on campus, Alternate Academia is giving you a way to see some remnants of this type of work as you hear a bit about the culture of doing projects at Brown."

Alternate Academia is an exhibition of Brown students' project remnants that uses Google Maps as its platform and all of Brown's campus as its gallery. The exhibition is geared towards prospective Brown students. The Alternate Academia Google Map leads prospective students through five project sites. On the Map, each site has a photo of the project (remnant), basic information about it, walking directions to the next project site, and a downloadable audio tour stop.

"Alternate Academia is designed to be experienced live. An audio tour for each of the five projects in the exhibition is available for download by clicking on the five thumbtacks on the map. Put them on you iPod and take the tour!

Stop-to-stop directions, which will lead you through the exhibition in the correct order, are also available by clicking on each thumbtack.

The yellow thumbtack is the first stop on the tour."

Why curate on Google Maps?

Since the "form" of this project (online exhibition) was predetermined, my first priority for was finding "a content" that, retroactively, dictated that form - something I would have chosen to put online even if that hadn't been mandated. I also knew I wanted my project to have some relevance/usefulness/applicability beyond the walls of our class. I became interested in Google Maps as a curatorial site since it seemed to me that though it might initially take "real" art and put it online, it had the potential to also encourage people to go see the works live (if pieces in close geographic proximity were included and put together in an interesting way). To encourage "live" interaction with the art, I knew I wanted to create a downloadable audio tour that participants could put on their iPod and listen to as they came face-to-face with the art.

The spark for the "project remnant" content came when I saw the "Keep Building Brown" sticker left in the Rock. "Keep Building Brown" was a very interesting project that was done for a class I took last semester (Radical Media). From there I thought of the BG Call Home sticker{}which has always interested me. Projects like this, it seemed to me, are such an integral part of a Brown academic (and non-academic) experience{}but visitors to the school, I thought, might never encounter them unless they happened to be here during finals week or another hot project-doing time of the semester. And so, Alternate Academia was born to bring together an actually tour-able exhibition, a specific audience, and content with particular relevance to that specific audience.

The pieces in the exhibition represent a mix of academic, non-academic, and undefined projects. I wanted to use the exhibition and audio tour to give information about specific projects and where and how they are done but also about "project culture" at Brown in general. I capitalized on the particularities of each project to convey the pieces of these messages they were individually conducive to - so, for example, since I have little information about BG Call Home, I used that project to give information about MCM - a department specifically relevant to "project culture"; since I have a lot of information about "Keep Building Brown" I used that project to talk about academic projects and the way in which some classes, while still traditionally academic in the readings assigned, ask students to draw conclusions in nontraditional ways.

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