UBI3

Virtual Institutions
New websites of the Műcsarnok/Kunsthalle Budapest and the Ludwig Museum Budapest – Museum of Contemporary Art

Perhaps it is due to the possibility to search according to name that the worldwide web became the universal communicational form, which when viewed from the offline point of view signifies an alternative alongside the alarmingly gigantic surfaces dominated by the mainstream media (such as the way the information curtain manipulated from the right and the left appears as created by, e.g., the radio, TV and printed press). It is a chance for presence independent of the media. It is sufficient to know the name of the given individual, object, company, institute, etc., and we can already search for it. And we can see that which everyone has (had) designed for her/himself: their appearance on the web, image (the image moulded of themselves), communicational strategy.
In the case of an art institution, of course, alongside the otherwise crucial perspective of communication, motivations of prestige also play a role: this leads directly to the demand of the given art institution for the development of a website proportional to its professional, societal – i.e., real – weight.
Alongside all this, the number of virtual visitors is greatly underestimated, while for instance, the Műcsarnok/Kunsthalle is visited on the web by approximately as many as visit its building in Heroes' Square on an average weekday.
This is why the two new websites are strikingly important and of prototypical value. That of the Műcsarnok/Kunsthalle demonstrates – from the wrong side out – just how important it would be that the commissioning party and the designer understand each other, that the client be clear as to what s/he is capable of maintaining on the long term – filling with content and representing. That of the Ludwig, on the other hand, that the tactics of small steps are often more effective than imposing and ready-made designs, because in the course of development (and learning) the unavoidable errors committed thus become eliminable.

 

 

The Műcsarnok/Kunsthalle's New Website
http://www.mucsarnok.hu

The previous massive text-only (containing no images) website has been superseded by something else.
It is a surprising and imposing website, displaying a never before seen amount of work invested. Nevertheless, it presents a problematic solution, resulting in a mere torso of a gargantuan enterprise. A project that was aimed toward the Műcsarnok/Kunsthalle having an Internet presence reaching far beyond that of every other Hungarian art institution...

It is just that after someone traverses the website through and through, s/he realizes that already the entry page was full of telltale signs. It is not possible to choose between the Flash and html versions – the Flash stays, which, departing from practice, automatically excludes a segment of the users from further acquisition of information. (see: http://www.dack.com/web/flashVhtml/ ) At the center of the starting page, the name of the designer, Adrián Kupcsik, has landed in an especially prominent position – exactly at the geometrical centrepoint of the page. A rare solution, speaking for itself. (In addition to Kupcsik, Frutta Elettronica signs the authorship of the page; for more about them, see: http://www.origo.hu/internet/multimedia/20011017magyar1.html)
On the starting site, it would appear as if there were also an English version – but in this, too, there is only disappointment. (Okay, mucsarnok.hu is its name, though the name of the gallery might be reached by a tongue-twister for foreigners; apart from that, however, it is still incomprehensible why the English name of the institution has been determined as Kunsthalle.)

Owing to the characteristics of Flash, on the machine of the average user, the data is downloaded extremely slowly (see: http://index.hu/tech/uzlet/csicsa/ ). Assuming the download is successful, we stumble across further little peculiarities. The caption "Status: _Műcsarnok file downloaded 100 %" is interesting; this support which can be seen similarly on numerous sites on the worldwide web, on the monitor, here nevertheless, is meaningless: it is impossible to know whether it relates to the downloaded events, or whether it is simply animation independent of data. The prompt "Hold down the mouse-button and move the mouse " is just the other end of exactly the same symptom. It is not only that it sounds terrible in Hungarian, but it indicates that the control is not in the hand of the user; on the contrary, s/he must pass certain trials if s/he wants to obtain the desired information. In any case, the poor foreign-tongued surfer here will throw in the towel once and for all.

Arriving at the real table of contents page, it is as if we have leapt into the heart of a gigantic project. At first glance are playful graphics and imposing Flash-animation. At the second look, however, the navigational surface appears luxurious. It is quite beautiful, but there is no content behind it. (It is not enough, for example, to see an exhibition, navigating in the space. If they want to realize this, then a new window is necessary.) The ratio of navigation and information throws the structure off-balance. On the lower surface the cursor is small and difficult to handle, and the font size cannot be increased. Perhaps a bit of space remains for the content too, but we can quickly cut the joking short: the information is not up, and as for the images – with the exception of a single portrait of the building – we cannot locate even the empty spaces where they should be. Among the standard information, it is the old telephone number that is present, and among the other problems, we can read the names of five staff members who no longer work for the institution. This, of course, is not in the slightest the error of the designer.

We have arrived at the website of the enchanted castle. There is an invisible clock in the corner. Playfully concealed, three spots indicate the steps that take your further. In this part, perhaps the most painful is that a mixture of Flash and html have been employed together. Already with the movement of the cursor, it is obvious that they are not on friendly terms with each other. If after we have clicked on the cursor we drag it further (so that, let's say, we can manipulate the little arrows in the lower field), no longer can we ever know from whence we have come.

The page of the Venice Biennale is quite nice, with the history of the Biennale informative; it is a shame, however, that the greater part of the years are missing. The design here also slides over the content: on the surface of the images, one cannot tell whether they are meant as elements to create a certain atmosphere, or earlier works or maybe a montage of them. The mingling of the faces of the two artists, on the other hand, is interesting.

The strongest section could be the event calendar, if the navigation would not oppress here too – with even less justification – the information. But really, here would be the place for vast scores of images, text and even publications on the level of catalogues, such as the serious material compiled in connection with last year's Crosstalk exhibition. It is a pity that it is not linked here, and thus is presently not accessible. An abandoned space. Certainly, it is not only due to this that this part is lacking, but because it is not filled. Clicking on the individual events, practically nothing is accessible. Here a curt text, there just the name of the responsible curator of an exhibition. What is this? Pillory?

The promised colour codes ultimately are not put into use: the Hungarian and international exhibitions and additional events remain undifferentiated; it is difficult to distinguish the exhibitions running concurrently one from the other. If someone selects something from the calendar above, the time-line runs on, with systematic advancement impossible. The whole thing often freezes the program. The connection with the outside world, i.e., the order of the links is arbitrary, unstructured, without update or refresh, and accessible only with great difficulty. Why don't they open in a new window? Why do we need to leave the Műcsarnok site in order to view the link? Can we look at only one thing at a time?

In opposition to all this, see, for instance: http://www.palaisdetokyo.com/, where, though there is not explanation for everything, it still works.

U Commentary

"Tupírka, they choreographed you"
/Dollybirds/

I am curious:
in view of the possibilities, I obtain minimal information...
I shriek, because I should at least triple the capacity of my machine...
I search, but I do not find...
I have to play, but right now I would not like to...
already for the second time, I Enter...
when was the whatchamacallit?....
I write to the "Forum" and ask...
if maybe...

I am a hardcore designer:
fucking great...
flatten all the rest....
WoW...
you should rot that it even entered your mind...
anywayi'velareadyseensuchayearago....
anywayi'vealreadymadesuchayearago....
anywayiknowfromwhere....
anywayiknowfromme....
finally someone has been able to sell himself...
long live the revolution....

I am the client:
whatchamacallit...
I don't know who is going to...
I'll ask...
I don't know, but something striking...
... I should understand it...
... I should learn...
... I should decide...
this doesn't work...
on mine, it doesn't look like this...
they're complaining...
oh, this way!...

"If there were only half of that which there isn't..."
/Dollybirds/

The Museum of Contemporary Art - Ludwig Museum Budapest's Website
http://www.ludwigmuseum.hu

Upon mistakenly chancing upon the website of the Ludwig Museum Budapest (because, due to the strange choice of domain name [a strange kind of “Hunglish”], one arrives here practically only by mistake), it becomes apparent immediately that here is an institution where there are artworks. On the website of the Műcsarnok/Kunsthalle, on the other hand, in the lack of images and additional information, it is this that becomes clear only at the very end.

On the title page, pictures from the permanent collection flash before us, catching the eye, generously dosed. In the upper frame, the name of the institution is found, and when clicked upon, there is the further English and Hungarian content. It would have been possible perhaps to more boldly indicate whose website this is than does this which is just barely more than typewriting; nevertheless, “corporate identity” is the last concept that we will reflect upon in relation to this. Exactly the same error tarnishes the logo, too, which could have been used in accordance to its real value, and not as mere illustration. The buttons that are required for further orientation are enigmatic, their extracted content appearing only in the status line – if we are feeling indulgent, we might interpret this as playfulness. (If we are not feeling so well-meaning and full of goodwill, on the other hand, we might say that the systematic concealment of data is symptomatic of the entire website. On the starting page, it takes a real man (or woman) to find the entryway into the labyrinth, while on the pages beyond, one would need to contract a separate firm to decipher the text-free, subjective colour codes.)

The general impression of the title page is pleasant, promising in its further content, and furthermore, the colour arrangement is also fine, and the basic information – opening hours, location/transportation, etc. – is accessible.

Unfortunately, there is no further route leading from the current events – though certainly it is here that it would be logical to string the further content. If the user is clever and happens to lead the mouse in the right direction, then s/he can step further from the upper frame, to a page that is hopefully transitional. On the surface of an old-school style, suddenly the design becomes rhapsodic, and it seems as if subsequent to the renewal, they still had not thrown out the old versions. The colour scheme collapses, becomes rainbow-like: the blue-brown-green cavalcade is exaggerated, overstated. For the sake of lucidity, the designer of the page might have adapted one or another of the colours as a consistent dominant colour.

The content, nevertheless, is visibly constantly developing, and considering the average Hungarian circumstances, it is practically stupefying that the museum informs even about exhibitions to come. As for the past, meanwhile, they treat it a bit unkindly: behind the lists, there is information only from March 2001. There is a shortage of images: they do not come for every exhibition. As a consequence of the metamorphosis, there are, of course, proportional oversights and loose threads: in the status section, merely a single snippet of information can be found. For that, perhaps it was really not necessary to open a separate page – though it is also possible that the patron wishes to sparkle in this way. A lot of things have yet to be uploaded, the structure is sometimes a bit illogical, and a bit of editing wouldn't do any harm… but all in all, this is quite a useful website. They do not extend themselves beyond their means: the information (at least, potentially) is there; the presentation and easy accessibility should be improved upon.

Alta Vizsla [the Hungarian version of Alta Vista]:
For the expression Műcsarnok [Kunsthalle] the Vizsla found 9 272 webpages on the Hungarian web;
For the expression Ludwig Múzeum [Museum] the Vizsla found 6 311 webpages on the Hungarian web;
For the expression Magyar Nemzeti Galéria [Hungarian National Gallery] the Vizsla found 34 600 webpages on the Hungarian web;
For the expression Szépművészeti Múzeum [Museum of Fine Arts] the Vizsla found 3 955 webpages on the Hungarian web.

 

 

18. October 2001.
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