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.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Day Three - Cultural Issues and ICT for Cultural Heritage: Designs and Visitors' Interpretations

I've very much been looking forward to hearing more about Pat's project. I was not disappointed. Another of our visiting scholars, like Bianca, Pat researches between design, communication science and museum studies (our department is getting more interdisciplinary by the day!) studying the issue of intercultural communication. How, she asks, can designers take account of the needs of intercultural communication and how do visitors interpret the artefact between them, and the information the designer wishes to convey?

Her case study is particularly interesting in and of itself. Place-Hampi is an immersive environment in which visitors can experience for themselves the archaeological site of Hampi in India. This environment has travelled around the world, and Pat spent some time in Australia conducting ethnographic research into visitor reactions to being able to experience this place without being there. At various stages throughout the exhibition in Melbourne she listened to visitors' stories, observed their movements within the space and collected documents from the museum itself.

She has generated and incredibly complex six stage communication model which expresses the processes of communication between the developer of the artefact (that is, in this case, Place Hampi, though it could be another multimedia or expressly created device) and the viewer, and a methodology for analysing visitor experience in an immersive environment on multicultural sites. The changes which an object goes through during the processes of the model is particularly interesting, for it alters from an idea, to a peice of labv equiptment, to being a museum artefact. Changes in space can create huge changes in meaning.

Richard wondered where cultural diversity came in this mass of information. The project, Pat says, already shows diversity, for Australian designers worked to develop a project about an Indian site, which would then travel around the world. But she also wants to investigate how people define themselves in relation to the technology and the content it presents.

There's certainly a lot of information to digest here. Well done Pat, I'm not sure I could keep all those ideas in the air in one project. I look forward to hearing more about it!!!

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