Research Project: “Regards Augmentés”

Forbidden Touch and New Media in Museums

The co-design lab works on a research project taking place within the Museum of Decorative Arts in Paris.

ENSCI website:

Our focus on the project is how to interact with objects that you cannot touch. We are producing representations and scenarios of use with the students of Telecom ParisTech who poetically explore the potentials of new media but also of photography, video and narrative that address this question of touch in Museum.

for Telecom ParisTech course material see:

Other issues at stake:

1- Museum in production

The first question we address is how to give access to a larger number of data on museum artifacts. This is a major issue for museums and curators who produce the legitimate scientific discourse expected by visitors (Le Marec). However new rhetorical paths are tried. We observe, for example, that the Louvre Museum transforms the status of speakers from an expert status (with the adequate and appropriate rhetorical mode in tune with the professional assessment of their career as academics) to the rhetorics of the witness, the amateur who tells anecdotes, behind the scene stories, show his/her own affective involvement. The model draws from radio and / or

television shows but also relate to the way blog writers appear on a more personal than institutional level.

– What is also at stake is to present what is generally produced by the institution and cannot find enough room in the cartels and catalogs. How can all these productions be promoted? How can they be part of the mediation purpose of the museum? What is the cost of transforming, popularizing these intellectual productions? Such questions have editorial strategies reconsidered, formats, authors, publics, etc. One of the hypotheses is to tracks tools that would automate some solutions (as in the media and press industry).

2. Visitors production

Another issue is based on a vision of Web 2.0 Museum.

Amateurs, visitors, students, schoolchildren and their teachers post online texts, about their personal experience, or adding information they deem necessary or even presenting reformulations that they find more appropriate for their peers.

This participation of visitors may open new opportunities for the Museum.

– On the one hand, should it not capitalize on this amateur production which is proof that people are learning and making theirs the museum? The problem is that, while these productions belong to the horizon of encounter between the museum and visitors, as in any process of learning, data may be correct or not, well or poorly written. What will link these words with those of the museum? What services, what forms of portals, what hierarchies can allow a plurality of views? What tools can also allow visitors to contribute even on an occasional basis and in mobility (Gentes Jutant)?

– These contributions are also a sign of the interest of a community on issues and artifacts provided by the museum. This community of interest may well lead to a social community around the museum that can become the host of a network of “affiliated”. We must therefore observe on the one hand the emergence of these communities organized around museums, from traditional board of trustees or “friends of the museum” to more unexpected groups (a face book of the museum visitors). We must also analyze and/or design writing tools: how they fit with the musem, organize the access and production of contents, either on the premises while visiting the museum or from afar.

3. The  evolving visit

Rewriting the metadata on artifacts may offer new opportunities of visit. One could imagine for example that Annie wants do the same tour as Aude and she would follow items virtually tagged by Aude. The metadata could diversify possible visits: “visit with you lover”, “objects for a dull, rainy day”, etc., such as the Tate organizes. Visiting would become choosing between multiple points of view on the Museum.

– The personal relationship with the trustees: We could track objects commented by X, curator of the museum, as if we followed a radio host

– The quantity of data (with a system automatically crossing several criteria. For instance: all blue objects)

– Production of peer contents ( as a student, I’ll look at what other students have written because it will probably be more “my style”)

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