If you go to the Minneapolis Institute of Arts on Sunday, you may note that many of the patrons are hairy and have their tongues hanging out. There will also be lots of dogs, because it's Dog Day MIA, with music, games, and dogs in costumes — although if you're expecting them to wear some of that cool samurai armor from the collection, sorry.
Such an event must be captured on video, and Ryan Lee is the MIA media team member who'll shoot the gamboling pooches for posterity. He even gets to bring his own dog, Liz. Sounds like the best job possible; how did it happen?
"I lucked out. My degree was art history and mass communication, and I ended up installing any media-based artwork at the museum, anything with computers, projectors, or sound installation, and I produce video for the museum. It's a job I had no idea existed."
Yes, an art history major who works in a museum. It can happen.
Any favorites? "There's been so many, but our most complicated is an installation in the third level of the Target Wing. It's a four-channel projection into the dome, there are four projectors that we installed in a cross pattern, and they're shooting opposite each other to project a scene of an asteroid field. The trickiest part was aligning them and getting the geometry right."
So, you were like Michelangelo at the Sistine Chapel up there, but without Pope Julius yelling at him from down below. Unlike paintings, though, some of these works can become technologically obsolete. A painting can always be hung on a wall, because the wall doesn't change format. But what if Lee had to assemble an artwork that relied on Betamax?
"That's definitely an issue. We've had historical pieces, works forerunners of video art, media artists working in the '60s and '70s. I've installed work from them, and one piece had a Radio Shack security camera. It had no documentation, and it's supposed to be part of the piece."
It's almost a curator's nightmare: "Museums are charged with preserving things, and technology is changing so fast."
But romping dogs will always be timeless. This isn't the first canine-related event at the MIA, by the way; they did it last year, too.
"It was fun. Last year at the event we shot a number of videos in creative ways — we had these small Go-Pro cameras, put them on a long pole and turned them upside down so you could see things from the dogs' perspective. We made a short fun video, set to music, with dogs being funny and cute on the Internet. What more could people want?"
The same, but also with cats? Next year, perhaps.