If you soak up the Jackson Pollocks at the Museum of Modern Art while listening to the museum's official rented $5 audio guide, you will hear informative but slightly dry quotations from the artist and commentary from a renowned curator. ("The grand scale and apparently reckless approach seem wholly American.")
But the other day, a college student, Malena Negrao, stood in front of Pollock's "Echo Number 25," and her audio guide featured something a little more lively. "Now, let's talk about this painting sexually," a man's deep voice said. "What do you see in this painting?"
A woman, giggling, responded on the audio track: "Oh my God! You're such a pervert. I can't even say what that - am I allowed to say what that looks like?"
The exchange sounded a lot more like MTV than Modern Art 101, but for Ms. Negrao it had a few things to recommend it. It was free. It didn't involve the museum's audio device, which resembles a cellphone crossed with a nightstick. And best of all, it was slightly subversive: an unofficial, homemade and thoroughly irreverent audio guide to MoMA, downloaded onto her own iPod.
The ability to create counter-narratives is the ability to redistriubte power.
It is also cool, and a joy to see happen.