Translucent Vaults
A+D Museum
Los Angeles

Translucent Vaults is the A+D Museum’s exploration of digital access to cultural institutions and art. The exhibition, curated by the A+D, serves to ask what issues, benefits, and possible futures arise with the shift from physical to digital access.

Throughout the exhibition, the following questions were explored as the visitor engaged each of the various moments throuhg art history. 

︎ Why are archives important? What do we consider an archive? Does any website itself become an archive?

︎ Are the power dynamics, which deem these works as worth archiving, reinforced by the ease of the digital? We see the same names, the same demographics of artists repeatedly highlighted.

︎ Who selects what is archived? What does the composition that makes up an archive say about who is composing them?

︎ How do queries and search functions proliferate these hierarchies? What are the limitations provided by these traditional methods of inquiries? In our search, we found regularly one had to hold prior knowledge about art, artists, and movements in order to find what we were looking for.

︎ How do online databases work against premeditated exploration? How do they reward it?

︎ Do global institutions who can afford to archive their works then, in a sense, own the history of art? What is the long-term impact of this? Can digitizing archives allow smaller institutions to obtain a voice in this narrative?

These limitations of format and content bring about larger questions about how we digest and access knowledge as a whole. At the same time, in recognizing these as detriments to free exploration we begin to think of how digital mediums themselves can be made more effective and give more power to the user or audience.

Photography by Hans Koesters