In their article, Four steps in the history of museum technologies and visitors’ digital participation, Christensen traces the history of curation toward digital participation. They assert that exhibited objects are in dialogue with their surrounding paratexts. In this discussion, Christensen draws from examples of the Bode Museum, the Victoria and Albert Museum, and Dr. Johnson’s House to present four museum technology history steps.
The four steps refer to print reproductions, photography, audio guides, and independent museum paratexts via digital and participatory forms. Christensen concludes that museum objects’ significance has shifted from being about their historical context to how they interact with modern times.
This is important for both the archaeologists who first uncover materials and the museums that display them. When collecting data, archaeologists may choose to employ more interpretive methods.
Providing a detailed archive of the data collection process allows institutions to reassess interpretations in the future when visitor tastes change. I think another key point from this study is that visitors care more about experiences than learning. This means modern institutions will need to balance recreation and information and learn how to market both to their visitors.
Visual images are texts to be read. The types of visual media are varied. They can be moving, such as a film, or still images. Still images include photography, paintings, doodles, and graphics. Visual analysis researchers the producers and consumers of images. Psychoanalytic theory focuses on the representations of images. A content analysis will look at images as a contextual narrative. Semiotic analysis relates what is signified by images as signs. The chapter also describes photo-elucidation and memory work. These methods use photographs (or other images) to stimulate conversation on memories of participants. Photo-elucidation may be useful within a questionnaire, especially some photographs of damaged rock art sites.
Another interesting idea that I had not considered prior to reading this chapter is participant mapping. This method provides visual data from the perspective of the participant. For my thesis research, I would like to use structured observations and have considered each observer mapping the space as a participant. The chapter finishes with a discussion on ethics. The ethical considerations of visual analysis relate to protecting the anonymity of persona who may be in the photographs, as well as publishing and copyright issues.
For me personally, I find that there are many facets of visual analysis that are relevant to consider, as much of human computer interaction, and user experience is visual based, or especially when it isn’t. For example, with screen reader technology.
Notes from Ali, S. (2012). Visual Analysis. In C. Seale (Ed.), Researching Society and Culture (3rd ed, p. 283-). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications.