Concluding Thoughts / Aha Moments

Monday, August 17, 2020

Michelle: [...] So after I sent out the agenda yesterday and Marina posted it on Discord last week, Emily had an opportunity to look closely at the Canada Council grant and suggests that we not delve too deeply into agenda item number three, which is probably a good suggestion. I'm beholden to grants, so my first inclination is always to mold whatever conversation into the parameters of the potential money, but from our colleague who talked about time travel, and what was the other thing — digital twinning?

Emily: Yeah. 

Michelle: ...she reminded me not to put limits on ourselves. So, I just wanted to acknowledge that I'm coming to you from Lkwungen territory on the lower end of, the unfortunately named, Vancouver Island named after a horrible colonial — what's the word — I don't want to say pardon... 

Rodney: Pirate. 

Michelle: Pirate, that's the word we were... 

Rodney: Thankful they didn't call it, “Captain Cook Island.” 

Michelle: Yeah, no. That’s for New Zealand to bear I guess. I also was reminded by Rod's post about Elon Musk and his satellites to acknowledge the colonial privilege that it is to be using this technology to talk to each other in this way. But, technology is something that we have a love-hate relationship with, and over the past couple of months we have heard about the remarkable work that all of the members of our Digital Potentials Advisory are doing around and in response, and in the case of Rod in opposition, to technology. In this meeting we just want to take some time to think about what we’ve heard from each other, to digest that a little bit, to talk about the things that really struck us as interesting or important or full of potential. And we haven't really talked too much since the very first meeting about the state of the AGGV’s digital character and maybe we can start looping the ideas back into our reality, and think about how to move forward or what we need to put into place in order for the AGGV to move forward with any ideas that we think are worth exploring. So I'm not sure if the agenda item “identify the aha moments” made sense to everybody, I hope it did, and Emily has already flagged one idea in Discord that she came across in her notes. I'm not sure if it was related to Deb's talk? Emily can you — my Discord keeps crashing for some reason — can you remind us what you wrote?

Emily: It was... Our talks were so inspiring you guys. I mean there are some real gems in here, but it was just something general. Somebody said this, “The last few weeks have amplified the goals not just to adjust a structure, but to radically question it.” Is that the one that you meant?

Michelle: That's the one that I meant, because certainly I think those of us from the gallery came into this conversation thinking about the digital tools that we use recognizing that they're not as functional or full of potential as they should be, and that we’re sort of failing our communities and audience members by providing them with dysfunctional tools. But in meeting one I might have thought that we were just thinking about how to make those tools better, but now here we are at meeting four and after listening to all of your presentations I realize that maybe one of the hindrances of working in a institution like the AGGV — I shouldn’t say “maybe” I know it’s one of the hindrances — is that we get so mired in the way things have been done, and the assumptions we make about what we're working with and what is historically essential to the museum’s structure that we don't move as far beyond those structures as we should. So I think that's what Emily’s recommendation — that we not get too mired in the Canada Council grant criteria — is about, because even though the council is a funding body that is really trying to think about how to push institutions to be better and different and more forward-thinking, it too is a colonial structure. So, we're not sure that it's asking the right questions yet. I might call on one of my colleagues from the AGGV to get us going on the “aha moments”.

Nicole: Well one of the things — and I don't know if this problem will take us in the right direction, this might be our own internal work that we have to do — but one of the things that really came up in the last meeting, and I think it was a culmination of like Emily said, these conversations. I look forward to these meetings they've just been — yeah — filling me up and just creating so many questions in my mind about the possibility of what we can be doing. So we're trying to think of a way to make the collection and all of these ideas around the interaction with the collection, but all of a sudden what's also coming out for me is the collection itself, we always talk about it being problematic I think Emily mentioned to point out in her presentation about it, being very donor driven. And there's aspects of it that we can address that are more proactive, we can use it in a way to dismantle things as well, but it has historically been a problematic complicated aspect of museums — this practice of collecting and how much of it is so donor driven. So, part of me is just really questioning this entity that we’re trying to create away with. Do you know what I mean? So yeah, it's just really brought a real focus into what our collection is and how we really need to be guiding what it possibly could turn into or be. So I feel like the way folks might interface with it, can also be a way for us to start shifting maybe how we're building it and thinking of it as an entity, so intrinsically part of the gallery’s identity.

Emily: That was one of my “aha moments” too. 

Gabrielle: I think one of my “aha moments” emerged in reflecting on our discussions while I was in the middle of another issue that was about how to discuss the removal of confederate monuments from public spaces and acknowledge this within the publication that I edit. One of the things that I realized is that — and this was the aha — the difference between a thing that is standing in the public, so a massive statue in the middle of a very public thoroughfare in Richmond, Virginia, say, versus objects in a collection that need to be discovered. The idea of using that notion of discoverability which of course is something that floats around digital spheres in general, but using discoverability as something that is a powerful tool that also has the potential to rewrite colonial narratives, because of course one of the the basic assumptions of all colonial narratives is this notion of discovery. So what happens if you empower people to discover, through digital tools? It seemed to me like there was a possibility of confronting colonial legacies while somehow overcoming and empowering at the same time, again through digital tools. That was something I was grappling with.

Nicole: Yeah, I think that's a really great point. I think that connects a bit to a comment I highlighted that Michelle had made too, at one point, that whatever is created that maybe an aspect of it is that the interaction itself is a learning experience, that you come away with a certain skill or some experience that builds your knowledge just by interacting with it. Not so much about — well I don't want to put words in your mouth Michelle, I don't know how the full context of your comment came about. I'm trying to find the note, where it was, but just that the interface could itself be a learning opportunity.

Emily: Mark was also mentioning navigation as motion — I had the note — it was very beautiful. Anyway... 

Mark: Yeah. There's a theory in interaction design about — basically an interface’s role is in knowledge production. So instead of just showing or providing comparative analysis, a good interface allows you to explore and build your own knowledge base or add to an existing knowledge base. I think that's what I've taken away from this, in a lot of ways, is that context of how people use collections — and that's from everywhere, from somebody who's an administrator at the gallery, to a guy in Baltimore, Maryland who knows very little about what the collection is and probably anywhere and everywhere between and beyond that. The point is that I think we're all trying to make meaning out of it. If we see an object we want to relate it to something we already understand. Or maybe we don’t, maybe it's something that's so foreign and we want to make a connection to that. So that way-finding and stumbling, and I guess what I take from this, is that there is no one perfect system. It's going to be a layered approach, it's going to be several systems and it's going to be something that has to be adaptable, and I don't mean that in a data way. We don't go and say, “Well this tool is not working very well, we should change it.” I think it's in a lot of ways not knowing what the expectations or what the outcomes are to start off with and being comfortable with that, and then learning through the building, through the actual experience, and having something that's nimble enough to work within that. So I guess for me, again, it's like as I do more and more of these I do one little flavor for each project I do. Really the whole universe needs to be all of these different layers and points of intersection, and some of them need to be collisions, we don't need easy flow through something I think, if you don’t retain much it needs to fight back a little bit in places, and maybe that is something unexpected or maybe it's an error message, or something like that — spitballing.

Noya: Just to riff on that a little bit. I feel like as I was going over my notes one of the things that struck me as really interesting in this context is something that Roy said, about thinking about the collection as the space between the objects rather than the list of objects, and thinking about these modes of discovery and exploration as modes of moving through that space rather than just list-making or hierarchy-making. And this really speaks to what Michelle was mentioning about this colonial approach or decolonial approach of thinking — can we explore the collection in a way that is not based in the hierarchies and systems that we're already familiar with? Yeah, so I like this idea of the spaces between the objects as the collection, rather than just the objects. Then the means of discovery becomes the means of exploring space rather than exploring a list. 

Mark: Yeah. Johanna Drucker wrote a book many years ago about interface where she described the book of the future, and in that she basically described that writing as data trails between nodes. So, how you find those things, the spaces in between that Noya was talking about and we've been talking about a bit here too, that becomes how you searched, what you were looking for, and how you made that discovery. Historically it was called hypertext, which allowed you to do these expansive models, but there's a component of mapping to that too where you set those dots down — and then what is the connection, is it road, is it whatever? But yeah, that's definitely the most interesting aspect of this to me right now.

Roy: You know from my perspective, if there was a task that we could suggest a user had, then it would be easy to design this system. But this really challenging and delicious question that we have in front is, how do we set up tools that allow patrons to navigate and to interact, but at the same time not to bias or influence, just allow them to be free. That means that we don't have any predefined notion — there's no such thing as a task now — they're just going to go and explore. I think as long as we keep that in mind that can be a guiding principle for doing this. We want to facilitate interaction and manipulation and wayfinding through, as we said, this notion that there are entities in a collection, but it's the relationship between those entities that we're trying to help people build.

Gabrielle: You know I think one thing though, that’s important for us to keep in mind is that the object’s — I mean the object will always be an objective, and so as much as we want to talk about the space between the objects and the significance of them there also needs to be a way to point to specific objects, and their significance have to be valorized even as we want to complicate them. I guess that's what I’m trying to get at. Or else there needs to be a way of taking all of these other things and describing them also as objects, so if it’s the collectors, or if it's the absence of certain kinds of objects rather than others, because it is at the end of the day an art gallery, it has a collection and there is always this danger of completely negating the object, which doesn't actually serve the purpose of telling more complex stories about them. So I think there needs to be a way of reframing that doesn't completely discount the objectness of a sculpture, or a painting, or a decorative object, or an object that doesn't actually have a name that can be described by all of those taxonomies that were created within a hierarchical framework. 

Emily: It could be a curation layer. If we're talking about a stacked thing we could have a space between layers, a curation layer... 

Roy: And one of the advantages that we have with these digital technologies is that there could be multiple layers of creation associated with any particular object.

Emily: Right. 

Noya: Yeah. I think the key, for me, to this conundrum that Gabrielle's bringing up is our ability to communicate multiplicity and multi-threading, which is a very technological idea in thinking in both linear and non-linear manners, and the ability to communicate those multiplicity of narratives, I think is what allows you to generate meaning upon meaning upon meaning. And those layers are what create the newness rather than negating. Yeah, I mean I agree, it’s a collection of objects and I mean we saw the storage space, we have a sense of their very physical nature. So I think connecting that very physical nature to the layers of narratives and stories that are being told about those physical objects and illuminating the multiplicity of those things and the ability to generate and regenerate them that is kind of interesting. I mean, that's how I see the challenge. 

Gabrielle: I'm always really interested in redeploying the existing conventions. So even if you take something like provenance, which is critical to the way that museum collections work, we also know that unless it's challenged all it does is reinscribe the colonial networks of patronage etc., etc. So, what does critical provenance look like? I'd be really interested in that. It's not that you have to create something entirely different you just need to tell provenance more fully and perhaps differently.

Mark: In typography there's a critical difference between form and counter form, one can't exist without the other. So I think of the collection, the stuff, the actual objects, as form and that's a fixed entity. Counter form really bolsters it. It’s a support to it and it could be the anti-form, but it also is the malleable layer of this. The form stays constant, but you can play with the counter form as you move through it. I think that's my traditional assumption about it, but we could almost flip that relationship where the counter form is actually the collection that the objects are the manipulable layer and that there is factual information about them that become the form. It's always just frameworks. I like that idea of a terroir and perverting that as you know, because that one to me is also a folk connotation, it's an oral tradition, and I think that's in place, in earth, that it's the substance and then there's this other cloud, if you will, that supports that substance, and I think that's an interesting place for this work to go, is that AI. Is it stories? There's lots of ways we could think of what that counter form is and, again, yet another metaphor — I guess it is — or a way of interpreting how we have ways of constructing that and bolstering. That each one of them rely on each other instead of thinking about one not having an importance and the other taking that, and there’s always this elastic relationship.

Emily: I was thinking about that with Roy's talk and how moving between reality and the digital in his work — you're so comfortable in that — and I think that's something that the gallery should be taking into account as it's moving into this new phase. There’s this — I keep using this word lately — interstitial space and its movement.

Roy: Well, yeah. I also want to ask Mark for clarification. You talked about form and counter form. Can you expand a little bit, what you mean by counter form or is it exactly just the relationships between... 

Mark: Well, when we look at like a lowercase letter “e” that's in Garamond it's got a black form to it, there's actual shapes to it that you could say is the letter form, but frankly the more-opportunity is the space around it. So we can't understand that form without seeing the white space that's in the lowercase “e” the “little eye” as it's called. Those little pieces actually have more potential, and for that matter, they bolster the form more than anything, and so it's a hard thing to explain. It's one of those things that we try to teach students and they talk it through until you really reverse the relationship. So if you take a black letter “e” with white around it then flip it to its counter form then you can really see what that extra shape is and then start taking out those components and see how those two work in a symbiotic relationship, or they can fight each other too. 

Rodney: So is that like a negative space relationship? 

Mark: It's negative space, but counter forms you know that's the...

Rodney: It sounds like that to me anyway. 

Mark: It is that way, yeah. It is like looking at the opposite on it, but in type it really is a key relationship for how we perceive letters. If you have issues then you could just look at how much space is around a letter form, if there's not enough generous space then you don't have enough counter form to actually feel the letter, and so they play off each other. 

Gabrielle: And you know, interestingly, when the typographic notion of form and counter form was absorbed or spoken about within architectural discourse, form was the building and counter form was the morass of social questions in which the building existed, but that were not always fully acknowledged. So it's interesting to think about that in light of how this gets deployed in the museum context.

Michelle: That brings us right back to Nicole’s opening comment I think, because thinking about provenance and objects and the focus on the object in collections and colonial histories and donors who are bad men, the inclination when you do your collection review and discover that two-thirds of your collection was stolen or collected by missionaries in Asia who were imposing harm on people, or whatever the situation is, when you're focused on the object the first inclination is to just shut it down, put it in a dark room and not talk about it anymore, but that story around the collection is what we need to be talking about, in order to move forward not just in the museum but societally as well. I jokingly said to Nicole and an artist friend of ours, not long ago, that the Canadian government should impose a policy where any museum that puts up a work of art from an Indigenous community should have to put the provenance on the label, because we just ignore how these objects have come to be in museums. What would be really interesting I think, and now I’m not speaking with any specificity about what our digital action moving forward looks like, but just — what's the word — philosophically, if we could get to a point where people are able to engage with collections in a way where they’re either bringing information about these histories forward or learning about these histories then the demands on museums would be different. So not only does this become a strategy for more interesting and effective interaction with the collection, but it could actually transform what communities expect of museums and therefore challenge museums to start behaving better.

Gabrielle: Yeah, that seems both ambitious and really important, because it's almost as if there's the potential now with the digital museum of completely rethinking the very nature of a museum that's not about this collection of objects that were assembled from on high — whoever the on high was, right. Like somehow it got handed down that these objects matter and that we're all supposed to file in and appreciate their significance — I mean, I say this as someone who is going to the Met the day that it reopens on August the 27th, so I'm like totally part of it as well. But it's that, “Oh, okay I'm going to have this aesthetic or whatever experience with this object regardless of everything else”, and this is an opportunity to say well, “That everything else is just as important.” That could be the real potential of this tool, but it's not just that you appreciate this thing aesthetically you also begin to comprehend it culturally, both in terms of its origins and how it got to this very place, that has to be made as central to significance as the object itself, and that to me is the real potential, taking the stories around the object and generating or creating a public that recognizes that those stories are as important as the object itself. To me, that's an amazing accomplishment and is almost a reimagining of the nature of the institution itself, and I think that’s totally cool.

Nicole: You know that makes me think that maybe part of the work internally that needs to happen for the gallery is that — I mean this would be a massive project, I'm already imagining how all of that could come together — the curatorial and the collections departments, in a way could work more closely together to build something. What came to mind was we've done collection shows in the past I think where we actually called them, “The Life of An Object” or “Life of the Object,” but that's what we're talking about. There's this object and you can tell a certain story, but if you look at the whole life of this object then you know the problematic issues of our collection, of the provenance, how things came to us, that there may be something inherent in the object that is itself problematic. All of those things can be conversations. They can be histories that are shared and told or rewritten. So it almost feels like whatever the database is, almost needs to be more of a hybrid of the curatorial approach than just a database of facts, but what are facts, I don't know, this is...

Gabrielle: But see that's what's so important right, because it reveals the thing that we already know, which is that the facts themselves have been constructed. So now you're just making that clear right. So I think that is really, really important. 

Nicole: Yeah. 

Rodney: Okay, well my notes are building up, so I should probably jump in before I talk... 

Nicole: Get it out. 

Rodney: First of all, I just want to clarify that I am not a technology curmudgeon. I'm not opposed to it. Like if anybody read my posting about the starlink satellite that was truly terrifying, because I didn't know what it was and when I learned what it was then I was sort of pissed off that nobody asked us if we wanted that thing in our sky. And, what is it doing up there? I think it's this idea that I'm suspicious of technology and the elders that I worked with for many years were suspicious of technology, because they didn't understand it and explaining it to them was very difficult. So I'm in the generation where I’m bridging the really old school — like some of my relatives didn’t speak English they only spoke Nuu-chah-nulth and they didn't read or write English — so I'm just that close to the really old school elders and history keepers. So when I’m talking about this idea that we are suspicious of it, it’s partly because — and these are all the “aha moments” that I'm sort of distilling down into some sort of narrative here — it's this institutionalized presence. One of my relatives is working with the museum of the Native American Indian I believe in New York — oh, Natural History Museum, sorry — so he’s speaking on my behalf, but he doesn’t have permission to do so and even the tribal council would not give the nod to that person. They just didn't even comment when they were asked for a response. So even on the national stage when you hear about the National Gallery or the Museum of Civilization in Ottawa where certain spokespeople have been given the national stage to speak on my behalf, they do not have permission to speak on my behalf, and that's what I don't like about this idea of this institutionalized presence and that's part of the colonialism that I battle with. It's like stop speaking like you are speaking on my behalf and... 

Emily: And this is... I just need to intervene, because this is something that I’ve only recently come to understand about Nuu-chah-nulth culture, is that the way that Nuu-chah-nulth people respond to that is with silence. There's not a protest, it's silence and moving on. And even Rod's family when we were talking about the Natural History ridiculousness, they said, “Don't put your attention to that, we’re going into the new world now, don't look back, don't go there.”

Rodney: They basically said, “Nobody cares.”

Emily: Yeah, which they don't, so…

Rodney: But there is an audience, obviously. So one of the things that we're talking about with the provenance of the collection it's like well I guess we just need to accept the history and just make it public saying, “Yeah, these objects were stolen,”  from you know these Chinese villages or wherever they came from, and just accept it so we can move on. This is the idea of this reconciliation we keep talking about. Me and Emily are moving on to the next thing, because I don't really have anything to contribute to reconciliation, other than we have to unlearn colonialism. That's what my elders always said, “You have to understand that we've learned colonialism and it's embedded in our societies and there are people who are abusing our oral histories for their own gain elevating their status.” So anyways, this idea of the collection — I have willingly given works to the AGGV as a form of record-keeping to say that this is my work, my work is different than the canon that exists, because I want people to question that there is no stereotypical idea of First Nations art. Especially coming from the Nuu-chah-nulth, we have a very wide interpretation of that, we are not as strictly within that canon as some of the other Northwest Coast nations. So I guess this is the idea of shifting the concept of the perception of what the collection is and what it can do. I had some other ideas, but maybe I’ll just leave it at that. This idea of negating the object I heard that said. But I think really the “aha moment” is listening to all of us talking. It has been really inspiring to listen to all of you talk and the idea that we have this range of knowledge is this idea of visual literacy. The vocabulary that we're using — not everybody understands what we're talking about. One of my favorite stories is, I was explaining music theory to a friend of mine and he gave me the five mile stare and he said, “Do you hear the same thing that I do when we're listening to music?” And I said, “Do you hear colors?” He goes, “No.” I said, “Then definitely we don't hear the same thing. I'm not really sure how or what it is that you hear when you're listening, but I guess because I have a different understanding of what music is — it's just not a random execution of sounds, it's actually a way of making.” So I think that's what I'm thinking is, how do we distill down what we're talking about so that people like me or my elders have some grasp of it and some usefulness for it, and this idea of accepting it as something that they can understand or accept, that it's not colonial and it's not institutional, it's something that is helpful. So those are just some of the ideas I got. I have a lot more, but I just wanted to get those out there while they were fresh in my mind just listening to everyone talk, because I've had quite a few “aha moments”, but I think really my biggest “aha moment” was trying to understand what it is we’re actually trying to achieve here, and coming closer to, Aha! I think I understand what we’re trying to do, in the big picture. So I'll leave it at that. I know it was a lot to digest, but I’m glad to get it out. 

Gabrielle: Yeah, Rod can I… I want to respond to these notions, they're such important terms — understanding, acceptance, helpfulness. I think those are really important issues that need to perhaps be more fully articulated. I was writing down in my notes, within the architecture academy there are these spheres of knowledge that students are supposed to have and the institutional speak is, are students “aware” of something and do they “understand” it, and those are different levels. Like, oh yeah, they need to be “aware” of sustainability and then eventually sustainability became something they were supposed to “understand”. So there is a recognition of different levels of engagement with different kinds of information and knowledge, and it seems to me that the issues that you've raised, pinpointing those things as specific achievable goals within this project is really important. And maybe it's about figuring out what those are. Is it about understanding? Is it about acceptance? Is it about something that is helpful, which again suggests utility? Anyway I just wanted to respond to that, because I think that those are really sharp and important issues.

Nicole: I was trying to make some notes to summarize these ideas and one of the things I came back to me was that we had talked so much about the language used, what are we asking. If you want a certain result, how are you framing that? What words are you using? But I also think it's like, how are we posing the invitation, because whatever we create, part of it being received and engaged by many is how we invite people to it. I think about that a lot in terms of programming and how we create things at the gallery, or even just the physical space, that idea of things being, or you feeling that, that's somewhere you want to spend your time, and come into, that you feel received there. So how are we framing the invitation, and then what is being proposed in that invitation.

Emily: I think that's one of the strengths of the AGGV that was on my list to talk to you guys about when we were in the section where we're making suggestions. I think that the museum is very strong and sensitive to that. I think that's why this project is going to be possible, even though it's hard. You guys have done the work that's why you're cautioning this, because you know how hard it is, because you’ve done it.

Noya: Can someone from the museum maybe talk a little bit about your strategy or your approach in that area and just share a little bit with us, more than we have known before. 

Nicole: Just in terms of how we reach out to folks?

Noya: Yeah, I mean not technically how you reach out, but what's the strategy, what informs your approach to this? 

Nicole: Michelle, do you want to… [Laughter]

Marina: One of the first things that popped into my mind was a conversation that Nicole had with me a while back, when I first started working at the AGGV, and you talked about curating as care. So I'm not sure if I can repeat everything you said, but I don't know if you want to bring that piece of it in, Nicole?

Nicole: Yeah, I mean that's been a big conversation with a lot of our colleagues. We have one colleague in particular, Toby Lawrence, who's really doing a lot of work on alternate models and curation as hospitality. I mean the idea of curation and care, historically it was to care for objects, but with the shift to audience it's about how are you… What I've seen in the shift since I’ve started my career is that it's always been about artists and the work, but there’s a bigger focus on communities and being of service to communities and how you do that work. Michelle, we were talking about another project and grant we were applying for and a big focus of it that Michelle brought up was about visiting, and visits, like how are we connecting with people and how are we understanding and listening to what is needed so that we can shape these things and provide these experiences or exhibitions or whatever it is. We need to be invested in visiting time and in sitting with folks and getting to understand where they're coming from. So in the process too, the other aspect of it was, when you're working with folks in a creative capacity or with different communities, if you're not putting things in the context on this platform and if you're not caring for people in that process and caring for the experience and invested — like, do no harm — or at least trying to as part of your approach then... Yeah, care needs to be at the foundation of how you’re approaching that. Thanks for bringing that up Marina, it didn't pop to my mind immediately, but that’s a good way to kind of frame how we've been trying to do things. Yeah.

Michelle: I would also add that we have become not very product oriented at the gallery. I was in some anti-racism training with an organization that I'm on the board of last week and one of the other board members — and we were all curators in this group — was talking about the huge shift she had seen in a museum that she was working with, I think in Boston, because in the past they had expected her to deliver complete packages when they engaged her as a guest curator and now, because they're shifting in response to things going on in the world they had given her and her co-curator so much time to work on this project. And, that time was a year. She felt grateful that she had a year to develop relationships with the artists and the institution and the communities. And I'm just going to ask Nicole how long she's been working on her project with Marianne Nicholson to give you a sense of how much time we put into things before we deliver any kind of product.

Nicole: The first conversation was in 2012. So, yeah. 

Michelle: And this is I mean... it's not that it's a project that has just been languishing and we haven't put any resources into it. It's something that is budgeted for every year in order to build on the relationship not just with Marianne, but with the communities that she represents. So we are also — I don't know how this happened, I feel so lucky to be at an institution that is structured in this way — but we don't rely at all on admissions for our financial health. So the director and the director of advancement get a little bit perturbed if we do an exhibition that ten people come to, but it's not really the end of the world. So we can be quite experimental, we can put a lot of effort into building a relationship with a small group of people around a project and that really, I think is the unique aspect of this institution.

Noya: Thank you. 

Michelle: So, we are coming up to the halfway mark and we are veering towards talking about the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria’s opportunities and gaps. Did we want to refocus a little bit on that? Emily keeps reminding me that our biggest gap is capacity, which is totally evident when the person who is the head of collections is also the head of installation and has to disappear to go stand on top of a scissor lift and hang stuff instead of thinking about digital strategies. But I don't know if we should get too mired thinking about that kind of gap. Maybe we should focus on opportunities and if the opportunities are good enough the money will just flow and we’ll bolster our capacity however we can. 

Gabrielle: Well it certainly is an interesting issue to think about, the differences between physical staff capacity and digital capacity, because we tend to think that, “Oh yeah, the sky’s the limit, in terms of digital capacity,” but that's not necessarily realistic. But, certainly if our referent is the object and stuff in the collection then there is obviously so much more virtual space to display that seems like the idea of this infinite museum, which I think has come up before, perhaps that could be one way that you deal with the immediate concerns about capacity, as in physical limitations. 

Noya: I think there's an amazing… I mean just thinking about what you guys talked about in terms of your approach to your work in your community — I feel like a lot of times when people think about a digital strategy they think really just about a product, like a website or an interface or a thing — I think the opportunity to take this approach and bring it to your digital work and expand the gallery's digital life using these strategies that are so embedded in your institution and in your culture without necessarily pointing to a product is fascinating. I think it can be something very beneficial to the AGGV, but also very beneficial to the larger community of galleries and museums, because of this approach, or at least that's what I see, from my perspective. Thinking about the digital presence as an outcome of something that needs to be put there and shown — so we did everything IRL and here's a very soft echo of it online, in a way — instead of just thinking of this digital representation as an echo or as some documentation, making it the actual thing and treating it as you would the rest of your processes and reaping those rewards. So I think that's a big opportunity and a super interesting way to think about digital strategy, not as separate from all the other strategies, and all the other learned cultures of the institution. Does that make sense? That was maybe a little broad.

Emily: That's great. I can build on that too. When I was talking about capacity it was more like digital-headspace-capacity. I think you're right that if the tool is an actual solution, if it's not just another project that it's actually solving something and it's real and it's engaged then the capacity will build itself it will just naturally rise.

Noya: I feel like this project, this committee, this situation that we're in, in these four meetings, is exactly that and I think it's a continuation. Yeah. I just wanted to acknowledge that we’re already doing it, in a way. 

Emily: Yeah.

Mark: I was just going to say that defining what a solution is really challenging. I mean it's very hard to figure out and I think I found it so challenging that I don't even like to frame them as solutions anymore, because the solution feels like an end to me, like I've solved that. I think the capacity, and that's the funny thing about this, I've built a whole career working with clients and myself acknowledging very limited capacity, like that is actually the strength, is not having infinite amounts of money or people or resources, because there's an authenticity and a nimbleness that comes out of that, that creates novel solutions that are really specific to the task or the community, or for that matter, it’s a lot more adaptable in the end. So I think that should be seen as really one of the assets that the AGGV has. We're not working with MoMA here and so the tools that work for MoMA don't work for you and it's been proven basically that they have a very different need and a very different capacity for really working to tell you the truth. I'd like to see that as one of the formal attributes of anything that gets begun out of this. Let's look at that as really the thing that you bring to the table here that constraint is very valuable. I think... Yeah I think I've lost it, it's been a couple of weeks that way where thoughts come and go. But I guess with that I was thinking that the capacity that you may lose internally, maybe there's an external capacity that's an invitation to the community to participate? It's a different type of capacity, but on the other hand if we start looking at it as storytelling or ways of adding context to objects, those contexts the more you have of those, the more that somebody else can relate to it as opposed to the formal context that we're talking about. I think that the relationship of acquisition and colonialism is one context that a certain group of people find interesting and some may be able to relate to it others may not. So really it's a matter of, again, establishing as many of those different points as possible. I'd also say that you’ve got to forget what you already know when you start one of these projects here. Design is a question and the best work is you not really knowing what the end's going to be and you discover it through the work that you're doing. So that's what makes these projects really difficult to write grants for and that’s why I get very few grants, because I'm basically selling a method. I can't say, “Well, it's going to be a website,” because we don't know if it is, it may not be one, it may be a space in the gallery that allows for an interaction in a different way. I think being really open and looking at it as working the capacity that you have, and those connections we talk about within the collection, I think those are really fundamental in how you approach the beginnings of this project. Does it allow, between collections and curation, a new way of interfacing each other? And if it does that then the tool just builds on itself. In the end I think we have to try a lot of things and fail quite a bit, and really not in the traditional assessment way, but looking at the ways that feel good, that there's an impression that came out of them and we work on those a little bit more, and then we look at how they intersect. It's not a linear process for something like this. I think that’s the nimbleness that the institution, that the museum or the gallery brings to this is that you can try things that don’t have donors that are going, “Oh my god, you failed on this $350,000 website and we've only got 5,000 people a month that are looking at it.” So those are the things that I like to try to lift up in a situation like this. You've got a lot going for you that other large organizations don't and let's tear into it. 

Gabrielle: I keep coming back to this tension between the museum, the physical visit to the museum, to the AGGV, going to a show or looking at a specific object or going to an event, and then some other digital experience. I think it's going to be critical to see those things as equivalents, that they’re different, but that they’re also the same, in terms of engagement with the collection itself. Noya when you were talking I kept thinking, I was like, “Oh yeah, it is the thing itself.” It is the thing! I think that’s really, really important, because however one engages, it shouldn't be seen as secondary. Conventional publications don't have this issue, if you think about the way that the New Yorker, once it went digital, was able to create, to use its vast archive to curate a whole series of special issues from its archive. Like they could go in and give you 50 years worth of profiles of people in technology that were mind-boggling and those digital issues were the New Yorker — that is the New Yorker. We haven't reached that in the museum context because there's still this notion of — we've talked about this before — the aura of engagement. So I'm really interested in how we create something that is seen as the thing itself, because when we say, “Oh just a website,” still we're participating in this hierarchy that is still privileging the physical experience in the gallery. So even if it is a thing like an installation in the gallery, does that mean it’s more important or more authentic? This to me is a really important issue relative to the idea of the AGGV being able to completely upend in the 21st century the way we think of those conventional hierarchies. 

Nicole: I think too... I mean the way we've all had to shift how we do things in the last month, being locked down and at home with less opportunity to be in physical space, I mean initially it threw us quite a curve, because in talking about how we frame our work around care so much of that is physically meeting with people and seeing them face to face and having these in-real-life moments together. But I feel like there have been things that have been able to happen over the last little while in digital, virtual space, good and bad. I mean sometimes people are talking about the fatigue of being on screens all the time, but there's also really interesting things happening where somebody you might not typically connect with you do now, because everyone's on video calls. So to bring somebody in... Who was it that was talking about a curator or an artist who gets to be on all these panels now, because previously folks wouldn't fly her in, because she lived somewhere remote? And now she gets to participate in all these things because geography is not a limitation. So I think there are things happening in how we are thinking about technology right now, where it seems possible to imagine something that is in and of itself the experience, not… Noya, what did you call it? Like a reflection? No um... It was like... not that there's a real thing, but... 

Gabrielle: An echo. 

Nicole: What's that? 

Michelle: The soft echo. 

Nicole: The soft echo, yeah! That's such a beautiful way to put it, that the thing that's created is in and of itself the experience. We're not just trying to... When this all started we were like, do we do tours of the exhibitions that are up in virtual space, like videos, so people can imagine being there? Is that what people want? So yeah. 

Rodney: You need an avatar. Just quickly, I just wanted to expand on what Mark was saying. These being called the digital strategies, I think a strategy is different from a plan, because I like the idea that we don't know what the outcome is going to be and an unexpected outcome is not necessarily a failure. So I think I think we’re strategizing, not necessarily making a plan. I think it’s different from a plan. So I think maybe that's a strength is that we're strategizing we're not actually making a plan to say that this is going to be the outcome. We're just trying to figure out how we're going to get from here to wherever it is that we end up. If that makes any sense, but it sounded like that's what Mark was saying. 

Noya: Yeah, I think if we have to have an outcome for our meetings I think we could collect these types of guidelines that we’re in agreement upon, like we're interested in multiplicity of narratives, or we're interested in the non-representational, not digital representation but rather something real — we have to find another word for that because real is a horrible word for anything — but yeah I think if you think of how can you formalize a strategy for the gallery it doesn't have to be, “Oh, the gallery needs five websites and they need a mini website for each collection,” like those things are ridiculous. So yeah, I agree with Rod, in short.

Emily: One thing — I'm also sort of thinking concretely in the back of my mind because this grant is due on September 30th, which is like tomorrow...

Roy: Emily you just cut out for me. What’s the deadline for the grant? I just...

Emily: September 30th. 

Roy: Okay, thank you. 

Emily: But, I mean we could roll the dice and try to go for the multi-phase initiative. I mean we are moving into what people's engagement and availability over the next year is, but if we thought about this as a multi-phase and did did something that was slightly smaller in year one and then did the big-hurrah in year two (2022) that seems like a pragmatic way forward especially considering what we're looking at in terms of other things going on over the next year for everybody. So the multi-phase initiative is up to 500,000 and the way that I would think about it — I mean obviously, I’m going against what I said Michelle — I would tend to want to go a little under and get it. I mean it is kind of a poetic granting stream, it's pretty exploratory, so I think we could argue this conversation, especially if we had one website already, or... I don't know, I don’t know… where we might make... 

Roy: Going in on the multi-phase project where you layer things is a really responsible way to ask for funds and I think that would resonate with the way they adjudicate things. 

Michelle: Yeah, I agree. I think that if we're moving forward with all or some of the people who have been involved in this phase and we can articulate what’s happened through these conversations in a really convincing way then the way we position the next grant, the big grant, can be — what's the word I want to us — I mean, they use the word “iterative” over and over again in their description of what kinds of projects they want to fund, and it is, I think, precisely because they see the visual arts sector as completely product oriented one of the things that they want us to learn from collaborating with folks in the digital sector is this notion of exploration, building, layering on exploratory investigations. So I think if we could produce a really tight summary of what we've done, then moving forward the next application can be a little looser.

Emily: Yeah. Is there play-money left, to make something, maybe?

Michelle: Yes, yes. 

Emily: Okay.

Michelle: There was supposed to have been money spent on equipment that we would have used in our off-site meeting space when we were all here together. We were supposed to be renting space to meet in, so those funds haven't been spent.

Gabrielle: The thing that is useful about the idea of various iterations even though it tends to get over used — the iterative approach to something — is that it does suggest that it's only finished until you start the next version of it. So that idea of versioning is I think really useful here. Instead of a conventional exhibition where you've got your opening date, you've got your closing date, you have all of your deliverables that are connected to that, whereas this is intentionally open-ended because even if something launches — if it's a website-ish thing — it can continually change, it is in its nature iterative because of that possibility of continuing to unroll new versions of it. So I think that’s exciting, because you do something based on one set of discussions, then you have another set of discussions and various kinds of input. I mean, I don’t know if the Canada Council is as interested in user data as say the NEH is for their digital initiatives, but I think you build that in. There's going to be something that people are going to mess around with and you're going to use that feedback in some way to help determine how you move forward even if the only people messing around with that are perhaps your area experts. I don’t know.

Emily: What kind of availability do you guys have in the next year? Is that too hard of a question I can break it down differently.

Roy: The rest of the fall is looking pretty good for me. January will be a bit of a nightmare, but only for 12 weeks. [Laughter]

Mark: January just got a lot longer!

Noya: I have capacity and interest in this project.

Gabrielle: I do too, I mean I don't know about capacity, but I definitely have interest, anything that takes me away from the minutiae of my home institution is going to be very welcome. 

Mark: I would echo Gabrielle’s comments. I don't know. I have a wild hare in me that maybe this afternoon I'll be very available after trying to send an email. Let's see what happens. Remember that methodology of quitting?

Emily: We're with you Mark! 

Mark: We're going to call it a leave of absence. That's what the plan is. But yeah, I'm definitely interested and I can make availability.

Michelle: Great. We can also — thinking about a grant that is at a much different financial level than the one that we received — think about working in another layer of people to work on stuff. You folks can be the brain trust and we can bring in other people to help build stuff, or however that gets divided out. We can bolster the team or we can make the argument that we need to bolster the team, in the grant.

Emily: If I can jump in and say I noticed Roy talking about his students a couple of times and thought that was interesting. I wonder if other people have students or really great people in their network? The other thing is that I think it would be really great if someone knows a game designer or theorist and possibly somebody with expertise in digital access, like the digital divide, and possibly the idea of e-waste — coming from Rod’s satellites just about the sustainability part — or digital junk or something like that, if somebody's talking about that, and then a librarian, and we do have a librarian in mind, Ben Hyman. So if people know some really bright minds and we want to expand this little network, there's room. 

Noya: Yeah, I can think of a game designer. I know a few who might be...

Roy: And I do have access to a large pool of students in software engineering and also in the humanities as well. So student support is usually...

Emily: Cool. 

Noya: What are our next steps Michelle or Emily or Marina? 

Michelle: I think before today, before this morning, we had been talking about having very short individual meetings with everybody just to really finalize everybody’s thoughts and contributions to the conversation so far. So we'll do that. And thinking about the grant application some of the necessary steps are starting to haunt me, nag me, back here. The new people that we potentially would want to bring into the group we should try and connect with them sooner than later, so we should try and set up these short meetings. Emily, how long do you think those meetings need to be, half an hour?

Emily: Yeah at the most, at the most.

Michelle: that we can also finalize the list of names going into the team document to submit with the grant. I think we didn't dig too deeply into the way the question is actually described in the grant, “defining the problem”. I think that is the first thing that we have to isolate in terms of this next grant application and make sure that we can articulate that. We have to do it in 350 words so I wonder what the timing of that could be? Could we take a stab at that before we have the half hour long conversations, so that we can get feedback from people?

Emily: Yeah.

Michelle: And Noya and Marina and Emily just went through the exercise of applying for one of the smaller digital strategy grants. I don't know if you want to extrapolate from that experience what you think applying for the big grant might look like. I don't know if the application is that much more complex, probably it needs to be even a little tighter in order to convince them to give away potentially ten times as much money. 

Emily: The argument that we made with that one is that we needed to do a test to start experimenting with these ideas and have a proof of concept for this next engagement so… 

Michelle: Sorry go ahead…

Emily: It's just a form to fill out. The number is, I guess, the mind trip, just getting over that giant number and writing something really good. Yeah. 

Gabrielle: In 350 words?

Michelle: That's just one question, but I did find that once we figured out what the answer to that question is, then everything else falls into place. 

Noya: I think we have a very solid understanding of the types of activities that we want to engage with. So it's a big number, but I feel like it's pretty doable, counting on Marina who did really amazing work. 

Marina: I think.. sorry go ahead…

Noya: Yeah, no I’m done, go ahead.

Marina: I think the other piece that was really helpful in writing that grant, first was “defining the problem” and then the second question had to do with the “outline of proposed activities” just from a technical perspective what you brought to that Noya, some of the insight that maybe I wouldn't be familiar with not being from a technology kind of background. So I don't know if that’s something to think about right now, but in terms of the September 30th deadline I think that piece is also a really, really important in terms of those of us who will be going back into the grant referencing those few sections and then kind of pulling on it and expanding on it. Yeah, and maybe that's something for the 30-minute meetings too, after we've seen a little bit more on “defining the problem”. I don't know.

Rodney: Oh, Doctor!

Emily: She made it! Hi Deb.

Deb: Hello. 

Emily: How's your day going?

Deb: Oh, you know, it's going.

Emily: Good, yeah. 

Roy: Must be going crazy with the back to school rush. 

Deb: Uh, sure. Turns out it's easier to shut down an institution of about 16,000 people than it is to open one. 

Emily: Yeah. I don't think that it's out of range to try to define the problem by the end of the week, I'm happy to take that work on so that we can try to reach our folks that are in academia before things get too bananas. It would also... I do think some kind of document... Does anyone have any ideas for how we might document this phase? I mean the obvious is to build a website. Is that too boring, or should we just keep it clean and dirty, just clean and dirty at the same time, just do it?

Roy: I think you do not want to make it sound like it's setting up a website. I think that would be a real disaster. I think that we've had enough discussion about how we're really looking for an unstructured approach to access the art and the curation and that that should be how the message comes across, first and foremost.

Gabrielle: But Emily, can you clarify — and now I’m forgetting what words you used. Was it about documenting what happened?

Emily: Yeah, just documenting this process as a support of this grant application and also using it for reporting for this grant.

Gabrielle: It seems to me that somehow thinking about editing a transcript that would end up almost being... A “position paper” is too highfalutin a term, but that would bring out, from the four different meetings, what the critical issues were that could then almost be a document. Then to Roy's point, it would be this thing that you could point to that would say, “See, this isn't about just a website.” It would be in a way the data that came out of this. 

Noya: Yeah, I support this idea of documenting a conversation, in a conversational manner. I feel like one of the greatest features of this experiment has been the dialogue nature of it, so keeping it as a transcript of a conversation I think is cool, and also people can reenact it in decades to come. [Laughter]

Rodney: I think it should be a feature film. [Laughter]

Noya: I was thinking more of like a stage play.

Rodney: Oh yeah.

Noya: But seriously, I think it could be a very... like thinking about all these ideas, like multithreading, multiple narratives, multiple points of view, just as form and content.

Mark: Is there a way we could play with that form of writing though? I mean I don't mean to suggest that we typographically make it multiple faces and overlap things like that. I’m just trying to think of — and again I’m throwing technology at problems that I probably shouldn't but — tools like Obsidian or Roam are ones that allow you to do narrative mapping where you're able to do what I call bi-directional linking. So it really establishes a web and a map of what the overall tone of the conversation is and it allows you to see forwards and backwards. So there's context within that. They're easy to start off with. In a basic way they're kind of a Wiki, but then it blows up from there and those can be interesting ways to visualize and also show the complexity and the serendipity of what we've done. I mean, I think that's the thing, we've been returning back to things that were said three meetings ago or two meetings ago and so being able to have linear but non-linear ways of referencing or recalling information could be interesting. I can help establish something like that, or maybe it's too much, I don't know. But I do like the idea that really the text has been the meat of what we've done here and that could be enough. I mean I don't think we have to go much further we've really gotten to know each other as a group, we've gotten to know our own perspectives and what we bring to this, and we've gotten to know the challenges of the gallery and opportunities through this process, and that seems like in and of itself a pretty ideal method. 

Noya: I think maybe to simplify a little — maybe it's not necessarily to simplify — but just the idea of a text that hyperlinks to itself, references itself, could have both internal referencing and external referencing, because we also referenced a lot of other things other than ourselves. It could be a simple or cute way to do this representation that's mostly textual, but is also hyperlinked and jumps from one point to the other. I don't know.

Gabrielle: And it could possibly also connect to the recordings of the... 

Mark: Yeah it could. 

Gabrielle: the recordings of the meetings, because again if we assume that part of what happens is that, as Mark pointed out, it's about getting to know each other it's about getting to know the gallery and part of that, given that we're not physically in the same place, is through this flat plate staring at each other's little boxes. So I think that there's something important about that as well particularly for the future as Noya points out. Future scholars are going to want to look at this critical moment in the transformation of the museum. And actually, I mean as a historian I will also say that there have been these examples of the such-and-such papers that came out of some conference or other that when people were putting them together maybe it seemed a bit self important, but then you realized 20, 30, 40 years later how glad you are that someone took that time to document that, because it's incredibly valuable in the sense of who was in the room then and what were they talking about. So I think that this self consciousness is not misplaced, because a year from now we might actually want to return to, what was it that we were talking about at that third meeting? So having the documentation of these conversations as being the outcome, as being the thing, I think is not misplaced at all. 

Noya: I think there's also something... I mean it's interesting, and it's radical to me, maybe it's not radical at all, but thinking about the slow process of the documentation rather than the cliff notes of the documentation, and perhaps there can be a representation of that too if that’s necessary for the grant, but the slow digestion of information that comes through dialogue rather than, “Oh, here's the summary of what we came up with — one, two, three bullet points.” There's something about it that is representative of the work that we want to continue doing in the future. Also, I don't know, but at least to me it sounds like it reflects the type of conversations that the AGGV is having in its IRL spaces or IRL relationships with artists and curation. So it would just really tie things together. I think it's important to also represent it and explain, or make it intentional rather than, “Oh, here's just a transcript.” I also wonder if Zoom recordings have automated transcripts? If anybody...

Mark: If they don’t you can feed that right into neural engines online where you can get those transcripts. 

Noya: Yeah for sure, but yeah, that could be great.

Gabrielle: Yeah, and I'll also second that, making note of the distinction between the executive summaries and then the actual conversations, because again in my own research you'll have the published version of something and then you go back to the transcript and it’s mind-boggling how different they are, which shouldn't surprise us because that is a form of curation as we've been discussing.

Roy: If it helps we can also send you our PowerPoint slides or any resources that we used in our talks. They might be helpful if you want to cut and paste images or little text bursts.

Michelle: That would be great.

Deb: Yeah sorry, if I could just add my support for what Gabrielle's suggesting, and that is as someone who has to interpret why certain words are used, in say senate regulations or whatever, they almost have never any bearing with what actually was happening in the room. That's why we keep both notes as well as the official pieces of policy so that we can actually go and say, “Actually, we all agreed we weren't going to interpret it that way, and here are the notes that support this interpretation.” So I would really support Gabrielle’s point on that.

Emily: So hey, can whatever we make go in the collection?

Michelle: Sure!

Deb: I have a really great garbage basket full of notes. [Laughter] 

Emily: They only take them if they include rolling pins and wine bottles. 

Gabrielle: Is it the collection or the archive, right? I mean, or, do we want to stop making that distinction?

Michelle: Yeah, we don't actually make that distinction, because we don't have a formal archive at the gallery, but we have a lot of archival material that has ended up in the collection. We're loath to send it to the actual archive, because we know it will just disappear and never be read again, but there are a lot of papers that relate to things in the collection. So yeah, we can catalogue this with Rodney's donations to the collection.

Emily: Who has time to work on this record in the next month? I think, but I don't want to presume Michelle, maybe there's some dollars attached?

Michelle: Yeah, I mean the current contract I think it's safe to say comes to a close with the half hour summary conversations that we'll have, but any other work on the grant I'll start new contracts. I think that we should get the recordings transcribed as quickly as possible, whoever that is or if it's built into Zoom we can do that, but if we have to get a transcription service I think Marina can probably help me figure out how you do that. We can do that quickly, but yeah, there will be some work in people reviewing everything. I know that I always have to edit out my “ums” and other weird noises that I make when I speak, when I’ve seen a transcription of what I've said. So there will be some work attached to that and the larger exercise of figuring out how to activate it.

Noya: I just looked it up and you can transcribe recorded Zoom conversations automatically through Zoom, so it looks like it will just do that for you.

Michelle: Great.

Noya: I'm happy to help conceptualize and continue working on this documentation. 

Michelle: Excellent. 

Rodney: As a lateral here, I was wondering if Deb was interested in sharing any “aha moments” she had during this process. I know you're coming in after we've all shared, but no pressure.

Deb: Thanks Rod. I'll be sure to give you the crappy wine the next time I see you. [Laughter] Sure. So some of the “aha moments” I would have had, one of them just reflects the fact that I'm not involved with collections per se, but it started with the very first thing that Michelle shared with us, and that was the difficulty with Emily Carr's work. I've always found it a bit challenging in some ways, that I was like, “How'd she get to paint that?” But that's just reflecting my own heritage. But to even hear of some of the other paintings and some of the challenging pieces around them was really interesting to me to start thinking about some of these Canadian icons and how they actually have an incredibly complicated history. That goes right down to other things that I was speaking about last week, which was... So there's this big controversy right now and it's raging through the United States as well as Canada, but a colleague of mine was talking but how on their campus there’s a statue of Sir John A Macdonald, the founder of confederation, a Canadian hero except if you're Indigenous, because he’s also a genocidal maniac who’s responsible for just about everything bad that's happened to Indigenous peoples since Canada became Canada. So the idea of context is really big in my thinking in this piece, that even simple objects, jokingly like a rolling pin, can have multiple contexts and multiple meanings. And I knew that about art, but I hadn't quite put it together with things like web design or collections or what is collected and what isn't collected, even though I think about EDI all the time in my job. But also, who's in the room? Who was invited? And even how, to what I just spoke about earlier with Gabrielle’s point, sometimes what is said and what is actually recorded are two different things and we get to the gist of it, but that is... To put full circle on it, back to what I studied academically, is that all of your own autobiographical memories are exactly the same way, they're just fabrication they're not real and they don't really exist and they don't even necessarily reflect reality, they’re interpretation. So, it's just how central to my own research some of the things we're talking about… I wasn't sure I had much to contribute other than being a good editor, which was what I was going to say, is that if you need an editor I'm a pretty good editor. I can actually take five years of work and put it into five pages pretty robustly, but that leaves out a lot of the flavor sometimes of what's there. So that would be my “aha moments” was that some of the stuff that I do study actually was of relevance to this, and not just the fact that I can mobilize large resources. So I don't know if that's at all useful.

Emily: Yeah, you're right in line with us, right down to the statues.

Deb: Yeah well, Sir John A is a bit of a turd is what I'd say.

Michelle: That's for sure. We're at 11:50. Does anybody have any final words for meeting number four?

Nicole: I just want us to make sure we don’t lose track of… There’s two things that came up, or three. I think it was Deb who talked about fantasy, Mark talked about extraterrestrials, and Emily talked about time travel. I think we should all not lose sight that maybe those things can all play into this in some way, because I think there’s so much potential in all those things.

Rodney: Just one thing I forgot when I was talking about the goals, I was saying it should be useful or helpful, but I think it should also be fun. So we always say if it's not fun then we don't want to do it. That’s one of our mottos here at Search and Research. 

Noya: I agree.

Emily: 350 word statement. Transcribe. Set up meetings with everybody. Make something. Write a five hundred thousand dollar grant. Launch school. We have one, two, three, four, five schools to open, and... 

Noya: I hope you're not counting me, because I'm definitely not opening a school.

Emily: Class, whatever.

Noya: No, no. I'm out here in the camper and I'm not going to any school or any class, schools out.

Gabrielle: I'm jealous. 

Emily: Yeah, let us know if we'll be welcoming you to the dark side Mark.

Mark: Yeah, it might be the light side, I don't know yet, but... 

Rodney: Is that an animal?

Mark: Yeah, I've got a cat in front of me. 

Rodney: Oh, I thought it was a hand puppet or something.

Mark: Yeah it's a hand puppet too. I can make it talk if you want me to.

Rodney: Yeah.

Mark: We do that frequently. I'm alone a lot. I was going to say, for the making-thing I probably can't help populate, but conceiving of some sort of form, I’m adequate at, we'll call it.

Emily: Yeah, cool.

Gabrielle: And like Deb, I can certainly add some editorial editing, as needed. 

Emily: Cool.

Noya: I'll be happy to do a very hacky HTML website, straight from the early 2000’s. 

Emily: I can do that too, let's do that, hand written.

Noya: I've done one recently, and I found it to be pure joy.

Emily: Okay.

Mark: Yeah, I do three to five a week and I love them. It's actually become how I sketch now. I've been doing this rewriting project with Design Inquiry and I think the last three of mine have been HTML based. 

Emily: Oh okay, I think we have...

Mark: Anywho, nerding out. I think we need the little under construction gif.

Deb: Create gif graphic. 

Mark: Something that's got a guy or a person digging would be great.

Deb: Something's gone wrong

Emily: Yeah, I volunteer to make that. 

Mark: Yeah go for it.

Michelle: Well, I had imagined a very emotional goodbye as this meeting came to a close, because I didn't expect 100% agreement to continue on this path with us. So it's not goodbye, it's just until soon. So I know that I speak on behalf of Marina and Nicole and our other colleagues, Stephen and Ellen, in just expressing — I mean, it's not just thanks, it was really like medicine to be able to do this with all of you over this very strange summer. It, I think, helped convince me that just because we are locked in our houses doesn’t mean that we can’t keep thinking about how to connect to each other, I mean amongst this group, but also moving forward. How to make sure that we have strategies in place to grow the ways of connecting to people, because I think really ultimately that's what we as a museum want to do, and if we don't figure out that having people in a room with an object is not the penultimate contribution a museum can make, it seems like the world will figure that out and tell us as the pandemic did this year. So I can't remember Deb if you had already joined us when we were talking about the fact that the next steps will be pulling together a little bit of writing, just to set the stage for what we're moving forward on with the next grant, the big grant, and we'll connect with each of you in very brief meetings at your convenience. I think maybe what Nicole and Marina and I can commit to is that if one of us has to take a meeting in order to accommodate your schedule, if we can't all be there we'll remain as flexible as we can so that we're not demanding too much of you at this super busy time of year. So Nicole and Marina, do you have anything you wanted to say in conclusion?

Nicole: I'm just so grateful, like Michelle summarized it so beautifully. Yeah I just, these are the moments where I'm like, I just love my job. 

Marina: Yeah. 

Nicole: This is a great opportunity, so much thanks to all of you.

Marina: Yeah, I'm not sure how to follow that up, but just to echo again what Michelle and Nicole said, thank you so much everyone, and for the opportunity, Michelle, to be a part of this project in a small way, it's truly amazing this work. 

Roy: Anytime I tell my friends I'm involved with this project they say, “Oh, wow, that is so cool!” 

Marina: Yeah.

Michelle: I hope it has been interesting and worthwhile for everybody.

Noya: Definitely. 

Michelle: Great. 

Gabrielle: Absolutely.

Noya: Yeah, I want to thank you for doing this and for inviting strangers into your place, it's definitely not something that a lot of institutions are capable of, so speaking of capacity, I think it's pretty amazing. Thank you.

Gabrielle: Thank you tremendously. It has been just so great to be able to talk over these ideas and to think through big questions, even existential questions, again, stepping away from all the insanity of at least my institution as we face down the fall semester, so I really appreciate it. 

Mark: Yeah, I think these things are great because they're supplemental like they add to. Those are the best experiences, if you can add to higher thinking or higher working, or who you're working with or in some way hopefully contribute, but maybe also leech or sponge off of others knowledge. I go back to this idea — I think it was very early on, maybe it was during one of our earlier meetings — about what is radical access in 2020, and this kind of feels that way, just this group of folks and how we’re beginning to think about how to do something that hasn't been done before. It seems like it's a really good framework for the next steps that we're hoping to take together.

Michelle: It is exactly 12-noon pacific time, so unless anybody else has anything to say, maybe we should sign off. 

Mark: Until we see you again.

Gabrielle: Thank you, until next time.

Nicole: Yes, definitely.

Michelle: Goodbye.

Marina: Bye everyone.