Imagine if we could rethink how we use digital technology in the museum environment – using technology’s untapped potential to increase our perceptual experience and add extra value for the visitor.
Extend the experience using digital technology
Exact understanding of the museum visitor’s experience requires expanding the time frame to include aspects of the visitor’s life before, during and after the museum visit.
Thus, a process-related understanding of the museum as an event relates to increased immersion and development of new technologies to capture and frame visitors’ experiences. It’s a way of extending the museum environment so that there is physical and digital interaction between materials and users.
Rather than making you forget that you are situated in space and time, digital technology must serve to increase perception and extend the body as a sensory apparatus. Instead of using digital technology, as an exposed extension of the body the technology must be involving – it has to work with you not against you.
A thought experiment – an active key
Let this be a thought experiment. Imagine that the focal point of the museum exhibition is an active key. This active key allows you to enjoy your museum experience in stages.
With the active key you start your visit to the museum from home. Using your tablet, laptop or smartphone you receive information about the museum and specific exhibitions through relevant touch points. So by the time you leave home you are already well informed and prepared.
Then you get to expand your knowledge even more during the actual museum visit – using the active key as a digital extension of your museum experience. At the museum you’ll engage with both physical and digital installations, but instead of interacting through screens, you’ll interact with screens in the physical environment. You won’t miss a thing – and you won’t so much as have to take your mobile phone out of your pocket. Instead an invisible digital extension of your body takes over and – in case you need to remember a specific experience – help you to recall the memory.
This invisible extension is your active key, which doesn’t just mediate between the physical and digital environments but also allows you to be present and attentive, focusing on the actual – the content of the museum!
If after your visit to the museum you are curious to learn even more, the invisible technology you carried through the exhibits can assist your memory. It could be a picture of how you interacted with a specific installation, what you saw as most important in the exhibition or what you collected at different pictograms during your visit.
This way the museum trajectory is interacting with digital society to investigate further. As you did before the visit to the museum you are again participating in the digital milieu surrounding us.
If adding digital technology to the museum experience the technology has to be productive by allowing you as a visitor to be present. That is how we at Redia want to rethink the communication in the museum experience.