iSay: The Shape of Things, 31 January 2013Artwork-centred socialityin museums and galleriesMarcus WinterUniversity of Brig...
Artwork-centred sociality in museums and galleries     Imagine looking at an object     not for its artistic or historical...
Artwork-centred sociality in museums and galleries Social objects: Personal | Active | Provocative | Relational           ...
Artwork-centred sociality in museums and galleries                                                     Michael Craig-Marti...
Artwork-centred sociality in museums and galleries Visitor Feedback | Interpretation | Commenting | Debate      Source: Ta...
Artwork-centred sociality in museums and galleries                                                     Visitor Book at the...
Artwork-centred sociality in museums and galleries Conservation | Remediation | Accountability | Display capacity      Sou...
Artwork-centred sociality in museums and galleries Immediacy    Source: British MuseumiSay: The Shape of Things, 31 Januar...
Artwork-centred sociality in museums and galleries Digital approaches                               RFID-based tour system...
Artwork-centred sociality in museums and galleries Investment | Change of practice | User experience   Source: FluxGuide (...
Artwork-centred sociality in museums and galleriesiSay: The Shape of Things, 31 January 2013           Marcus Winter
Artwork-centred sociality in museums and galleries Dashboard for curators: analytics and editorial controliSay: The Shape ...
Artwork-centred sociality in museums and galleries    > Put up when & as long as needed    > Assign to exhibit and configu...
Artwork-centred sociality in museums and galleries    > Talk to me    > Take part in research    > Try it in your museum o...
Artwork-centred sociality in museums and galleries References Engeström, J. (2005). Why some social network services work ...
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Artwork-centred sociality in museums and galleries

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The concept of object-centred sociality (Engeström, 2005) is well established on the Web and has been transferred to physical museums and galleries to explain how visitors engage with each other around social objects (Simon, 2010). While designers of Web-based museum experiences have a wide range of well-established tools at their disposal to support object centred sociality and user generated content, curators of physical exhibitions typically rely on feedback boards and visitor books to foster engagement and encourage interpretation.

Ubiquitous annotation, described by Hansen (2006) as attaching digital information to physical objects and places, offers a way to go beyond the limitations of physical feedback boards. It enables unobtrusive, in-situ annotation of specific artworks and results in digital content that can be readily re-used and re-mediated. Recent efforts to employ ubiquitous annotation in museums include a bespoke system by Hsu & Liao (2011), iPad based object labels by Gray et al. (2012) and a platform involving custom mobile devices by Seirafi & Seirafi (2012). Adoption of these systems requires substantial commitment from host organisations in the form of financial investment, custom development and change of work practices. Furthermore, visitor interaction with these systems is problematic due to usability problems with static touchpoints that cannot display state information or interaction feedback.

The project is developing a light-weight, generic ubiquitous annotation platform that makes artwork-centred commenting and rating feasible even for smaller, low-budget arts organisations. It enables visitors to browse and create comments and ratings using their mobile phone. The project is developing novel dynamic touchpoints that address many of the usability problems associated with static touchpoints. For curators, the system provides an analytics backend to maintain editorial control, re-use contributed content and analyse engagement levels with a view to enhancing the visitor experience. The project is at an early stage and seeks discussions with researchers and museums professionals to inform the design and research.

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  • Thanks for joining me today for this presentation on “Artwork-centred sociality in museums and galleries”
  • I’d like to start with a quote from Nina Simon’s (2010) book Participatory Museum. In chapter 4 she writes “Imagine looking at an object not for its artistic or historical significance but for its ability to spark conversation.”The idea of social objects that spark conversations and provide a reference through which people relate to each other is not new. Nina Simon cites JyriEngeström’s (2005) notion of “object-centred sociality” and Jyrirefers toKarin KnorrCetina’s(1997) paper “Sociality with Objects”.
  • So what are social objects in a museums context?Nina Simon (2010) identified four characteristics that make objects social:Personal objects we can somehow connect to – like this travel toothbrush which we might have once owned.Active objects that focus our attention on them – like this huge, rotating sculpture of a pole dancer.Provocative objects that are bound to prompt a reaction – like Tracy Emin’s bedRelational objects that make us share a common experience – like virtually riding together in a horse race
  • My favourite example is a piece called An Oak Tree by Michael Craig-Martin, which is on display in the Tate Britain.[http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/craig-martin-an-oak-tree-l02262 ]It’s a glass of water on a common bathroom shelf installed at some height on an otherwise empty wall. Every time I see it, there are people standing in front of it, taking pictures and talking about it.Wouldn’t it be great to somehow collect all these opinions and make them available to others looking at the piece?So that over time a debate between visitors can develop that helps people to understand other viewpoints and reflect on their own, and that provides an alternative channel to expertly curated information? This is the problem that I am trying to address.
  • Now before we delve into the digital, lets briefly look at how things are done today.There are millions of different ways to collect feedback and support interpretation and debate. Here are just some common ones that all of us know, like a comments book, commenting cards and post-it notes.
  • The great thing about these analogue methods is that they: are versatile: you can write, draw, squiggle anyway you likedon’t require any gadgets, electricity or wifiare inclusive: everyone can use them, from kid to grannyare low-tech: very reliable and cheapOverall, these are qualities that are difficult to beat or even match...
  • However, there also are some disadvantages with analogue systems:- What happens to these comments? Are they thrown away after the exhibition? Kept in a drawer? Can they be looked at 5 years down the line? - How can they be re-mediated, e.g. shown on a website? Is there someone digitising these comments?- From a visitor perspective when posting a comment: Does my comment count? Who looks at it? Who decides what is displayed?- Finally, due to space constraints it is often impractical to show comments next to specific artworks.
  • As a consequence, most exhibitions only have a single feedback station close to the exit.But who can remember reactions to specific artworks after wandering through a whole exhibition? And how fresh are our thoughts by then?
  • Moving on from analogue systems, here are some recent digital approaches:Hsu and Liao (2011) developed a RFID-based tour system with instant micro blogging, where visitors can attach comments to artworks and optionally send them to their preferred social network.The QRatorproject (2012) employs QR codes and iPads as interactive object labels where visitors can browse and submit their own comments.Fluxguide(2012) is a fully integrated system combining a mobile guide with integrated social commenting and rating functionality. All of these systems enable visitors to create and browse comments for specific artworks.
  • However, some of these systems require considerable investment in terms of buying expensive hardware and/or in terms of integrating it with existing systems and practices. For example, Fluxguide provides custom mobile devices and requires museums to enter object descriptions, images, audio files etc. into their proprietary content management system (duplicating existing records). Furthermore, systems based on QR codes or RFID tags with static displays don’t show any state information, aggregate data or interaction feedback, resulting in a questionable user experience.
  • Here’s a vision of generic, light-weight ubiquitous annotation system involving dynamic display touchpoints.The interactive touchpoint below the object label indicates how many comments were submitted. There is a clear separation between curated content and visitor-generated content.The touchpoint indicates that the system is live and that there are visitor comments available, enabling visitors to make a value judgement whether it is worth to get out their phone and interact. Once visitors swipe their phone over the touchpoint, a list of visitor comments pops up. They can browse these comments or hit the button at the bottom of the list to add their own thoughts.
  • For curators, there is a Web-based dashboard to browse visitor-generated content and keep editorial control. For example, there could be functionality to delete or hide offensive content, or there could be a floor plan visualisation that may help to optimise exhibition layout.
  • In summary, key aspects of the system are that - feedback points can easily be put up when and how long a curator finds them useful feedback points can be assigned to exhibits and configured on the fly the whole system is completely independent and does not require any integration with existing IT infrastructure or practicesTogether, these points make the system low-cost and very lightweight, so it can be used even by smaller, low-budget organisations.
  • Please let me know what you think, or even better, volunteer for an interview for my research.If you work in a museum or gallery, maybe you could let me trial the system at some point ? I need to see how it is used in a realistic environment.Many thanks for listening.
  • Artwork-centred sociality in museums and galleries

    1. 1. iSay: The Shape of Things, 31 January 2013Artwork-centred socialityin museums and galleriesMarcus WinterUniversity of Brighton
    2. 2. Artwork-centred sociality in museums and galleries Imagine looking at an object not for its artistic or historical significance but for its ability to spark conversation Nina Simon (2010) The Participatory MuseumiSay: The Shape of Things, 31 January 2013 Marcus Winter
    3. 3. Artwork-centred sociality in museums and galleries Social objects: Personal | Active | Provocative | Relational (Simon, 2010) Source: Museum of Design in Plastics Source: Kentucky Derby Museum Source: Göteborg Museum of Art Source: The Saatchi GalleryiSay: The Shape of Things, 31 January 2013 Marcus Winter
    4. 4. Artwork-centred sociality in museums and galleries Michael Craig-Martin: An Oak Tree (1973). Tate BritainiSay: The Shape of Things, 31 January 2013 Marcus Winter
    5. 5. Artwork-centred sociality in museums and galleries Visitor Feedback | Interpretation | Commenting | Debate Source: Tate Modern Source: Tate Modern Source: London College of Fashion Source: Art Works / Plains Art MuseumiSay: The Shape of Things, 31 January 2013 Marcus Winter
    6. 6. Artwork-centred sociality in museums and galleries Visitor Book at the Rijksmuseum Schipol AirportiSay: The Shape of Things, 31 January 2013 Marcus Winter
    7. 7. Artwork-centred sociality in museums and galleries Conservation | Remediation | Accountability | Display capacity Source: Tate Modern Source: Tate Modern Source: London College of Fashion Source: Art Works / Plains Art MuseumiSay: The Shape of Things, 31 January 2013 Marcus Winter
    8. 8. Artwork-centred sociality in museums and galleries Immediacy Source: British MuseumiSay: The Shape of Things, 31 January 2013 Marcus Winter
    9. 9. Artwork-centred sociality in museums and galleries Digital approaches RFID-based tour system with instant micro blogging (Hsu & Liao, 2011) → attach and read comments → post to social network “allows the visitor to share his/her note or remark about the exhibit with others through the Internet.” Qrator (Gray et al. 2012) → interactive object label “Comments become part of the object’s history and ultimately the display itself” Fluxguide (Seirafi, 2012) → Web 2.0 for GLAMs “multi-media guiding enriched with new communicative, participative, and personalized features”iSay: The Shape of Things, 31 January 2013 Marcus Winter
    10. 10. Artwork-centred sociality in museums and galleries Investment | Change of practice | User experience Source: FluxGuide (2013) Source: QRator project / Grant Museum of Zoology Source: QRator project / Petrie Museum Source: Hsu & Liao (2011)iSay: The Shape of Things, 31 January 2013 Marcus Winter
    11. 11. Artwork-centred sociality in museums and galleriesiSay: The Shape of Things, 31 January 2013 Marcus Winter
    12. 12. Artwork-centred sociality in museums and galleries Dashboard for curators: analytics and editorial controliSay: The Shape of Things, 31 January 2013 Marcus Winter
    13. 13. Artwork-centred sociality in museums and galleries > Put up when & as long as needed > Assign to exhibit and configure on the fly > Independent of existing systems and work practicesiSay: The Shape of Things, 31 January 2013 Marcus Winter
    14. 14. Artwork-centred sociality in museums and galleries > Talk to me > Take part in research > Try it in your museum or gallery marcus.winter@brighton.ac.ukiSay: The Shape of Things, 31 January 2013 Marcus Winter
    15. 15. Artwork-centred sociality in museums and galleries References Engeström, J. (2005). Why some social network services work and others don’t – Or: the case for object- centered sociality. Blog post 13 April 2005. Available: http://www.zengestrom.com/blog/2005/04/ why-some-social-network-services-work-and-others-dont-or-the-case-for-object-centered- sociality.html. Accessed 7 December 2012. Fluxguide (2013). Homepage http://www.fluxguide.com/index_en.php. Accessed 28 January 2013. Gray, S., Ross, C., Hudson-Smith, A. & Warwick, C. (2012). Enhancing Museum Narratives with the QRator Project: a Tasmanian devil, a Platypus and a Dead Man in a Box. Proceedings of Museums and the Web. Hsu, H. & Liao, H. (2011). A mobile RFID-based tour system with instant microblogging. Journal of Computer and System Sciences, 77(4), pp. 720–727. Knorr Cetina, K. (1997) Sociality with Objects: Social Relations in Postsocial Knowledge Societies Theory, Culture & Society, vol. 14(4): 1-30 Seirafi , A. & Seirafi, M.K. (2012). FLUXGUIDE: Mobile Computing, Social-Web & Participation @ the Museum. Institut fuer Creative, Media, Technologies. Available: http://www.fluxguide.com /uploads /4/2/3/3/4233655/paperforummedientechnik2011_fluxguide_red.pdf. Accessed 26 March 2012. Simon, N. (2010). The Participatory Museum. Santa Cruz, California: Museum 2.0, 2010. Available: http://www.participatorymuseum.org/. Accessed 7 December 2012.iSay: The Shape of Things, 31 January 2013 Marcus Winter

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