New Hire: David D’Agostino


What is your official title, and what are some of your general responsibilities? 

My official title is multimedia producer. It is my responsibility to document significant and seemingly insignificant time-based events, people, happenings, etc., that exist inside and outside the Carnegie Museum of Art, by means of digital and analog technology. It is then my job to archive, and edit this documentation into informative and compelling stories. I collaborate closely with my talented supervisor, Jeffrey Inscho, Web & Digital Media Manager, to figure out the best media outlet to present each documented event or story.  Much of the content created will be edited into short form documentaries or “vlogs” to be presented on our newly redesigned website in addition to multimedia gallery interactives. For example, I just produced a focus piece called Pianoforte (below) which takes a closer look at one of the many fascinating objects in the recently opened show, Inventing the Modern World, Decorative Arts in the World’s Fairs 1851–1939. I had the great pleasure to interview and follow the extremely passionate co-curator of the exhibition, Jason T. Busch, who gives us a more in-depth look at the history of the surprising materials that comprise this mostly papier-mâché piano.

In just the past 10 years, digital media has advanced to the point where we can shoot and edit a professional broadcast quality film in a matter of hours. In the past, a five-minute film required at a least a 3-person crew and big lights and a budget out of the reach of most non-profits. Another problem was where to show it. Now, if a visiting artist comes to the museum, I can fit everything into a backpack set-up and interview them in an hour and have it edited and up on our website by lunch time (well, in theory!). What would have been an out-of-house investment is now an efficient in-house department. Of course with this comes my most important responsibility—restraint. All I have to do is step outside my office to find a story. My first day here involved baby tarantulas, free hot dogs, and X-rays of secret paintings. I believe my job is to use new technology, not just for technology’s sake, but as a tool to gently break down the walls created by museums in the first place—to give a voice to the conservators, the custodians, the curators, the directors, and to the culture and people of Pittsburgh.

What were you doing before joining us at CMOA?  

I was producing a feature documentary (still in production) about a man who truly believes it is his divine calling to gather 144,000 chosen homosexuals, specifically “Bears,” to leave this earth on Dec. 21, 2012, to escape Tribulation and ascend to heaven upon the return of a homosexual Jesus Christ. I’ll be taking that day off.

What’s your favorite exhibition that you saw this past year?

I really enjoyed the Paul Thek show here at the museum. Whether or not we “like” an artist, it always gives us a new appreciation to see a retrospective of their work in chronological order. In this case I went backwards… But the show gave me such a clear idea the development of the artist and how he came to arrive at a certain aesthetic. The show gently integrated his personal biography in a way that did not distract from the work but brought me closer to it. The curator did a great job of connecting me to individual pieces by Thek that I would previously have walked right by. Honestly I went into the show wearing my usual cynical coat of arms saying something dismissive like, eh kinda goth, but I left the show feeling naked and inspired. It’s probably one of the best shows I have ever been to and I gained a new favorite artist as a result. Of course there are always some underdog curators out there curating shows of underdog artists. Sometimes those are good.

If you could steal one artwork from our collection, what would it be?

I would Never!… But if I had to…. Probably the Pterodactyl over in Natural History. I’d mount it on the roof of my house in Swissvale as a sort of warning to my neighbors, because my dog is useless as a guard dog.

Describe Pittsburgh in five words or less.

Other city of brotherly love.

Favorite timewasters? 

You said timewasters right?  Here Comes Honey Boo Boo and Gooskie’s of Polish Hill, but never at the same time….

Any personal projects you’d like to share?  

I am happily getting married to Michelle C. Fried in November.