Generate Exhibition Titles with the Click of a Button

by Jillian Steinhauer on December 9, 2013

Anyone who’s read this knows that I’m a fan of arty text generators. They’re just so … clever. And, when they’re done well, scarily accurate. Sometimes satire really is the best form of criticism, especially when the language involved is demonstrably predictable.

So I was extremely pleased this afternoon when Museum Nerd tweeted the Lazy Curator Random Exhibition Title Generator. Conceived by Rebecca Uchill, a PhD student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and programmed by Ben Guaraldi, the site, well, generates amazing exhibition titles at the click of a button. Here’s a sampling:

Arbitrary Relevance: 15 Years of Progress

Decadent Chemistry: John Waters and the Avant Garde

The Politics of Extravaganza: A Juried Show of Change

Parsing Charm: The Video Art of Dilettantism

And a personal favorite:

The Politics of (Im)Possibilities: Constructing a Praxis of Sameness

I think I’ve seen that show. Or at least read the press release somewhere.

Part of the reason the generator is so convincing is that its titles are true to life. “Most of the vocabulary from the titles came from exhibitions, articles or conversations that were in my orbit at the time,” Uchill explained over email, with “that time” referring to February 2010, when she created the site. But the generator not only springs from life; it’s also affected it in a completely unexpected way: people have actually started using it to title their shows. Uchill sent a handful of examples that have come her way, including this Kansas City exhibition, this one in Galway, and this one in Chelsea.

From these we may conclude that a good percentage of exhibition titles are bullshit. But since we all know this, we may as well laugh about it and enjoy the video art of dilettantism.

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