The Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh is tackling the rich and thorny question of photography's changing role in our society, and its place within museums and galleries, with an innovative new project called the Hillman Photography Initiative. Supported by funding from the William T. Hillman Foundation, the Initiative is a project within the photography department at the museum. During a yearlong cycle, five “agents” will collaborate on a variety of exhibitions, projects, and onine endeavors. The participants this year are Tina Kukielski, the Carnegie Museum curator and the co-curator of the 2013 Carnegie International; curator and writer Marvin Heiferman; Alex Klein, curator at Philadelphia’s Institute of Contemporary Art; Illah R. Nourbakhsh, professor of robotics at Carnegie Mellon University; Arthure Ou, and artist and writer and director of the BFA photography program at Parsons. Divya Rao Heffley is the program manager. The group will meet for the first time in April.
The Initiative’s mission, according to its website, is to “explore the intersections among artistic practices and technological research.” As Heiferman wrote on the site’s blog recently, despite the sea change in terms of the number of images being produced and viewed every minute of every day (see Erik Kessel's installation, above, of all of the images uploaded to Flickr in a single day), “How photography actually functions in the broader cultural scheme of things – how it is employed, who and what it represents, and why it works so powerfully and well – remains underexplored.” We're looking forward to hearing from the Institute come spring.