Remixing Omeka

On May 6, 2016 by Bay ByrneSim

In Remix, projects are never “done.” There’s always a new way to experiment, another remix waiting to happen. After setting up our Omeka site, we wondered what would happen if we tried a new theme (re: Michelle’s post Thinking with Themes) for the site. Would it change the aesthetics of the site, or would each theme affect the way a user interacted with the entire exhibition?

Changing the theme in Omeka.net is straightforward (Appearance –> Themes), and there are only four themes to choose from: Berlin, Rhythm, Seasons, and Minimalist. In our original walk-through with Omeka, I chose Berlin because it was the simplest, and seemed visually the closest to our WordPress theme. The other three themes were, to be short, ugly, but I put aside my aesthetic opinions to explore the larger implications of a theme change.

The Omeka.net themes do not seem to affect the site’s functionality. The main framework of tabs and static pages remains the same. When Michelle wrote about themes for the WordPress site, it was interesting because each theme took the WordPress code and tweaked it to emphasize different points of contact with the site’s content. Omeka.net’s themes do not do the same; they act as a superficial layer of color and pattern over the site. It changes the the appearance without changing the deeper design or pathways through the site. Sometimes the elements were shifted around on the webpage, without changing the main functionality of the page.

I rejected many of the Omeka.net themes because they were not “professional” enough, but my hesitance towards bright colors and catchy patterns caught my attention. When did we decide that professionalism means dark colors and simple design? Why isn’t pink or pastel yellow professional? It could be easy to write it off as part of the patriarchy and the capitalist idolization of the dark-suited businessman. Pink used to be a men’s color; it wasn’t until post-World War II that it shifted to signify “girly.” The rejection of pattern seems harder to trace, and probably deserves a dissertation or two.

I decided that Remix’s essay deserved to stay in the simplest theme, Berlin, so after the remix, we’re back where we started.

 

Omeka.net's Berlin theme

Omeka.net’s Berlin theme (Essay homepage)

Omeka.net's Rhythm theme

Omeka.net’s Rhythm theme (Site homepage)

Omeka.net's Seasons theme

Omeka.net’s Seasons theme (Site homepage)

Omeka.net's Minimalist theme

Omeka.net’s Minimalist theme (only available in purple). The giant “hole” appears because I removed the “featured” exhibitions and collections from the homepage.

 

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