'A Narrative Journey through an Industrial Site - Creating storytelling environments with architecture and digital media' Tom Duncan and Noel McCauly
Located near Berlin, they have restored an old brickworks site to create a Brickwork Museum. They acted as architects, curators, interpreters and storytellers on the site and they want to explore the narrative possibilities that space holds. To present traces of site uses and social memory they attempted to engage the emotions of visitors. They augmented the space through soundscapes and media to transform the site into a place of memory. It works in tandem with artefacts and space to tell this story. A multi-layered narrative is really important for the successful museum experience. Showing us a moving video of the visitor experience with a soundtrack allowed the audience to get a really clear idea of the narrative journey of the visitor. They can gain a historical reading of the site, which attempts to generate a whole unity in the same manner which a film would, telling the actions of brick making and the social environment within which this took place. In the former DDR, working and private life was closely linked. The stories which are used here, unlike those in the Back to Backs were fictional, which makes me wonder about this role of authenticity. Is either approach better, or more honest? I think not, at least as long as the fictionality or reality of them is made clear.
Films which interview the real workers are used, however, within the spaces and soundscapes, which project memories onto the space. The documents which the project generated are now parts of the museum's archive. Their installation, called the 'moving trolley', calls into question the reality of the physical experience. The real, trolley, which is moving but unpushed, passes behind a screen where a figure appears to push it. This calls back the past into the present, an almost seemless integration of tenses. Nonetheless, it again promotes one of those moments of realisation, the knowledge that we are in a space of illusion.
In the brick kiln, audiences are invited to take a brick along the journey through the firing tunnel. They become part of the performance, part of the soundscape which is very embedded and situated in the space, invisibly associated with the environment and part of it.
The whole sensory experience is incredibly important in this design. I think that the use of this coreography can build a storytelling experience, a place which tells but also allows for interpretation.
The Attic (a name which commemorates our first physical location) is, first and foremost, a site for the research students of the School of Museum Studies at the University of Leicester: a virtual community which aims to include all students, be they campus-based and full-time, or distance-learning and overseas. But we welcome contributions from students of museum studies - and allied subject areas - from outside the School and from around the world. Here you will find a lot of serious stuff, like exhibition and research seminar reviews, conference alerts and calls for papers, but there's also some 'fluff'; the things that inspire, distract and keep us going. After all, while we may be dead serious academic types, we're human too.