Remixing Reality: Good or Bad?

Art Mobs Museum Hacking.

We’ve all seen the ads they digitally insert on the field during football games and we’ve heard talk about inserting new product placements as old TV shows play in syndication.

Ernie Miller has been thinking about this recently. Last week he noted that folks are creating ipod-able, independent audio tours of museums.

“…Hack the gallery experience, […] remix MoMA!” commands ArtMobs, one of the groups producing these unauthorized audio tours. In this context, the notion of hearing “things you’ll never hear through MoMA’s headphones” is an exciting example of the power of the technology/communication-enabled individual over the corporation.

On the other hand, Ernie sees parralells between this and the digital overlays described at the top. In a followup post inspired by a response from the lawfirm of Carson Bailey, he notes:

as our world becomes increasingly layered with digital data. We will be changed by this; how, I’m not sure.

Now, back to Carson Bailey LLC, the principles of which do some blogging. In this post responding to the “hack the gallery” rhetoric, they ask “whether asking students to plug in [to these unauthorized audio tours] challenges the museum’s authority as an institution or reinforces it.” But you’ll have to read the full post to know what they’re really getting at, because I’m going to take that quote in a different direction.

What I’m interested in is if the museums will try to prevent that sort of unauthorized remixing the same way recording artists have. Will MoMa start ejecting visitors sporting white earbuds? If they do complain, on what basis do they stand? Can they also prevent me from accompanying my friends and offering my tour and descriptions of the work?