A Swansea University academic’s new book explores how an innovative digital exhibit was used to display historical photographic images across city sites and examines its implications for future practices.
Reconfiguring the Museum: The Politics of Digital Display by Dr Ana-Maria Herman, senior lecturer in Media Design and Creative Industries Production in the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, will be published on January 15.
The book offers a sociotechnical case study of a novel augmented reality app - first designed to exhibit collections from the Museum of London across the sprawling capital city, and later remade for the McCord Museum to display collections throughout Montreal (Canada).
Dr Herman’s study slowly unpicks and reveals how the introduction of the app allowed for unexpected new relations between the museums, their collections, advertising agencies, sponsors, technology companies, corporations, urban spaces, and end users.
In turn, she shows how museum practices related to curating, designing, building, visiting, and modifying exhibitions were transformed, and how what was thought of as old gender and cultural politics unexpectedly re-emerged, while new digital politics - related to big data, surveillance, and automated processes - did not necessarily materialize.
By considering both the ‘social’ and ‘technical’ together, the book also captures the experimental nature of introducing novel digital media technologies to museums, and the uncertainty, messiness, contingency, and complexity involved.
Dr Herman said: “I wanted to create an accessible book, written with both academics and museum, culture, and heritage practitioners in mind.
“It provides detailed explanations on using sociotechnical approaches for digital media studies, and also offers practical considerations for practitioners charged with creating digital exhibitionary displays and accounting for their success or failure.
“If you are interested in the implications of exhibiting digital collections with novel digital media this offers a behind-the-scenes examination of the role that innovative digital media can play in museum and urban transformation - and their politics.”