Wheaton College Norton, Massachusetts
Wheaton College
Wallace Library

Academics

New Exhibit: Not a Cloud in Sight

Posted on October 8, 2013

What was academia like before the digital revolution? Even people in their 30s can fondly recall a time in which such outdated methods were the norm. Though typewriters now invite a sense of nostalgia for students accustomed to the computer keyboard, once upon a time, they were the driving force behind content creation. Likewise, early camera models such as Apple’s QuickTake 150 represented the archival standard of the time.

download-1Not a Cloud in Sight, a new exhibit curated by Amy Barlow, attempts to capture this very idea. Barlow, Wallace Library’s new Humanities liaison, launched the project in hopes of revealing the differences between the technologies of the past and present. “People who work in the library,” she explains, “are likely to have saved their old devices and study tools from college,” tools that may inform current students about the different roles technology played in the past. She notes: “I wanted to show how college students used to save their work and invite my co-workers to share their stories from that time.”

Located on the library’s Periodicals level, the exhibit displays a number of “artifacts” from Wheaton College’s Computer Museum, run by Professor Mark LeBlanc. The arrangement boasts a collection of interesting gadgets, such as Zeph Stickney’s Royal typewriter -- identical to the one used by author Ernest Hemingway -- Systems Librarian Lou Taris’ original TI-1250 calculator, and eMate 300, an early version of Apple’s Macbook. Filled with anecdotal stories from staff members, including one English teacher who stuffed her dissertation notes in a freezer to avoid losing her research in the event of a fire, the display offers a variety of insights into life before cloud technology.

Not a Cloud in Sight represents the first step in a new curatorial initiative. Barlow, a self-declared storyteller, hopes to provide students with experience “putting together an exhibit from soup to nuts.” The Student Curatorial Fellowship would allow clubs, pairs, or individuals to construct their own exhibit, from start to finish. Barlow explains, “[The project] offers students an opportunity to tell stories with objects, in both physical and digital environments, with a lot of support and to contextualize other people’s work.” Students interested in curatorial work or the process of displaying information in a more hands-on, visual way may present a theme to Barlow and, if approved, use the exhibition space as a way to explore subjects that interest them, whether it be relationships, literature, fashion, etc.

According to Barlow, the program represents a “low-key way to explore curation” and, ultimately, an opportunity for students to experiment with storytelling in their own, personal way.

Interested? Apply to be a curatorial fellow.

- Tyler Vendetti '15

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