Mmuseumm is a modern natural history museum—devoted to the curation and exhibition of contemporary artifacts that illustrate the complexities of the modern world.
Interview answered by co-founder, curator, and Mmuseumm director Alex Kalman.
Alex Kalman: Born and raised in New York City.
Constantly curious. Humanist. Optimist. Humorist. Meaningist.
Red Bucket Films. MyBlockNYC. The MyBlock Education Program. Mmuseumm. Camra.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do. I am interested in exploring what is currently happening in the world—and devising systems that humanize current events and allow the public access to an organized system to explore contemporary stories themselves. I consider myself a cross between a humanistic journalist and a designer. There are many different languages to make today’s stories accessible, Mmuseumm is one of them.
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Top 3 favorite or most visited websites and why? Unfortunately, if I am being honest, nothing too interesting here.
Google.com – because if you are curious about something, that is where you generally start.
Images.google.com – because you shouldn’t just take someones “word” for it—but see it for yourself.
Youtube.com – because, unless you are dealing with the real world—video is one of the most powerful mediums to convey ideas and realities, the moving image is transportive.
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How has living in New York City affected your work? New York City, while struggling in many ways is incredibly diverse and wild. My work is a celebration of the diversity and wildness of humanity and our striving to move forward. New York City is an electric charge for the mind.
What kinds of things are influencing your work right now?
I believe very much in citizen journalism.
I believe very much in technologies being used as enablers.
I believe in the ability of corporations to take their money and do truly interesting, meaningful, entertaining, informative, educational, and engaging work for the public—but it is rare.
I believe that small and scalable right now is attractive—rather than big and lumbering.
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What are some recent, upcoming or current projects you are working on? I co-founded a non-profit, hyper-local teen video news network that gets video equipment into under-served public high schools so that students can define the social issues and current events they face today. The videos are then shared with the public on an interactive video map. The program has reached over 1,600 students in NYC so far, and yielded over 400 insightful and moving videos capturing contemporary life in NY. It is a way not just to teach teens, but to allow teens to teach us. I believe the education system should serve its student body by teaching it how to serve society. www.MyBlockEdu.org
I am currently working on a mobile app for video journalism.
If you were a drink what drink would you be? Seltzer.
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How did your interest in your work begin? I was lucky to grow up in a family and go to school at a young age that taught me to look around and interpret the world, to look at the vernacular, and to use my imagination to build from that. The idea of work has always meant a lot to me. The idea of language has always meant a lot to me. So looking at language, and finding ways to re-work them to be my own—and be interesting and new for a wider public has always been important to me. That is what Mmuseumm is. My first job was shelving books at the age of 13. My girlfriend says I love to make piles. I am always disorganizing and re-orgazning things to mean more, whether it be objects, ideas, data, etc…
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Who would you ideally like to collaborate with? THE PEOPLE. Systems with big reach targeted toward the people.
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How long have you lived in New York City and what brought you there? My whole life. My mother and father’s love for each other brought me here.
What do you want a viewer to walk away with after experiencing your work? I want their eyes to be more open to what is happening around them. To look and to SEE. And to feel inspired by the “natural” world. I don’t mean by nature—but I mean by the vernacular—by who we are. To be able to find entertainment and meaning—not just in movies / tv/ books/ music—all of which I adore—but to find meaning in the vernacular—in the honesty of humanity. TO SEE.
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What are you really excited about right now? The future. Optimism.
Most embarrassing moment? Too many to recount. At least one a day. We are human after-all. If we are not honest about our humanism—we are lying to ourselves, and if we are lying to ourselves, we are a very small version of ourselves.
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