Last week I had the pleasure of attending the Curator’s Conference, hosted by the agency Portable, just in time to kick off Fashion Week in NYC. The conference hosted a number of speakers from the film, fashion, and travel industries. Some of the speakers, Josh Rubin of Cool Hunting and Chris Corrado of Capsule, offer curated content and experiences and spoke about a holistic view of the curated experience. From a slightly different viewpoint, filmmaker Gia Coppola and director Warren Fu broached the topic of curation from the sense of the selection and organization of a series of images in time. Hit the jump for the writeup and more photos.

Josh Rubin, Cool Hunting

Josh Rubin, Cool Hunting

Scott Belsky, Behance

Susie Bubble, Style Bubble

A frequent philosophical issue regarding curation involved the proliferation of websites such as Tumblr and Pinterest, where users can curate, aggregate, blog, re-blog, re-tweet, hyperlink, and appropriate media that they either connect with on a personal level or collect as one would collect postcards, stamps, or spoons. Can a Tumblr blog be a curated experience? Is a Pinterest collection curated? Yes. And no. The difference lies in the context, I believe, and also in the terms of organization. An aggregated set is an unorganized (but not necessarily unfiltered) whole, and can become a curated set through the process of organization. Curation ultimately becomes focused on the elimination of unnecessary elements of the set, and the resulting collection has a language and syntax that is validated through the context within the set itself. However, curation begins with aggregation. For example: Warren Fu spoke of making ‘mood boards’ of images when designing the visuals for music videos; later, specific elements of this aggregation of images become curated into a final piece with a consistent visual language. It is through this sensitivity to organization that the speakers curated their other’s work, their own work, and even their own personal and professional lives. Just like design, curation is a sensitivity and awareness of the meaning of the whole, and the organization of media to support, validate, and expand upon that meaning to an audience.

Big thanks to Portable for inviting us along to their first New York Curator’s Conference: I encourage everyone to check out their recap of the event, online here. For further reading, may I suggest Carina Chocano’s New York Times article, “Pinterest, Tumblr, and the Trouble with Curation.” I highly recommend leafing through the comments on that one, as a lot of good points (and as usual a few bad ones) are brought up regarding curation and aggregation. Finally, if you have some downtime this evening, the essay titled “The Curatorial Muse” by Micheal J. Kowalski for Contemporary Aesthetics Journal gives a much deeper insight into the philosophy of the context of images and curation. From the abstract, “An appreciation of the tension between the predicate, “to curate,” and the subject, “the curator,” is essential to understanding the convergence of creation, criticism, and administration in the graphic arts of our time.”

All images for this post taken with VSCO Cam.