Curation can be defined by the way in which information, art, music, and other elements are organized, structured, and presented. It is the act of taking disparate, separate things and placing them into a discernable context for a public experience.
Curation applies to both the sensory and the imperceptible. It is the selected lighting display to accentuate the evening's entertainment, it is a well-crafted playlist being broadcast, it is a particular piece of artwork on display.
It's is as much the overt, obvious elements as it is the subtle, impalpable factors. It's the sign that announces what it is, as well as the cues which guide a person to figure out the plot without being told.
It is the interplay woven between all of these things that turn chaos into order, that transforms a disjointed, awkward event into a coherent experience.
Curation is akin to the narrator of a story, filling in details not provided by the cast of characters taking center stage. It is the synthesis of separate parts to create a cohesive story and structure. It is the orchestration of multiple mediums into a symphony of the senses.
If one is bold enough, this role may be fulfilled by taking the stage and introducing each act, providing an additional layer of cohesive commentary to neatly tie up loose ends and fill in the gaps.
If a curator does their job correctly, they tend to remain largely in the background and only the most observant attendees notice their work. But screw up, and the audience will be looking squarely at the person responsible for the mishap.
Curators grasp the importance of connecting the audience with the artist, of encouraging ways to interact and immerse attendees in the experience. Art has the power to transform a person's perspective on themselves and the world they inhabit, and this impact is enhanced when the right conditions are provided.
A curator may make connections where others do not. They understand how a heavy industrial group pairs perfectly with a pop-punk trio, given the right context to place both acts within.
They recognize how a segway between starkly distinct sounds is enough to lessen dissonance, allowing the show to stand on its own without any explicit answers.
The way in which an art or music event flows is highly dependent upon the person directing it. They'll know where to place certain acts, which artists or art will pair well together, and how to structure the day's schedule to provide continuity from the opening note until the final farewell.
Curators are the behind-the-scenes creative force, keeping everything moving, making sure everything is in its right place and all obstacles are overcome and even embraced.
The act of organizing many moving parts lends itself to improvisation, which can mean turning a gut punch to your grand plans into an unexpected act of the play.
Curation can be the perfect position for those who love art, music, and events but would prefer not to be center stage during them. Your work is never the main attraction, though you may get recognized with a few thankyous by the artist on stage, or perhaps receive a small written notice announcing your work on a gallery wall.
Curation is akin to glue. Too much, and it will be sloppily intruding at the seams. Not enough, and the structure will begin to lose its shape and fall apart.
But the right amount will provide the perfect balance between solid direction and fluid, organic creation.