Internet Archive will be accepting applications for week-long Tumblr residencies through June 1st. In an facebook conversation that was transcribed to Alt Crit, artist Nicholas O’Brien says he thinks the platform homogenizes aesthetic for the sake of individual “curatorial sensibilities”. Internet Archive’s Ian Aleksander Adams disagrees. He writes that it’s an exciting way to get people to use material from their archive. The Internet Archive itself has some lofty goals—Tumblr isn’t going to get them any closer to realizing their goal of “universal access to all knowledge”—but I don’t think that’s the project flaw O’Brien believes it to be.
Good things can happen when artists are asked to work with pre-existing materials within predetermined parameters. Just look at Elsewhere. It’s a living museum that invites artists to make art with its massive collection of objects accumulated during its former life as a thriftstore. The aesthetic of the artwork made, while varied, is still dictated by the house and the objects of the thriftstore, and yet its collaborative atmosphere brings new creative life to old forgotten things. The perimeters help this project, but like most art, it’s the people participating, not the platform that ultimately determine its value.