mapping museum experience

mapping museum experience


May 29, 2009

emotion examines the museum as force-field through an in-situ experimental exhibition set-up. The trans-disciplinary project seeks to map the psycho-geographic perceptual effects upon the visitor produced by the museum; its’ objects and its’ modes of display.

Opening: June 4, 2009 | 18:30
Dates: June 5 – July 19, 2009

Neuro-aesthetics in Museum Research

Can the perception of ‘art’ be measured? And if so, how could that be done? This is the central question at hand that has brought together an international research team from several universities to test out their ideas within the context of an experimental exhibition at the Museum of Fine Arts St. Gallen, Switzerland (Kunstmuseum St. Gallen).

After three years of preparation at the University of Design and Art Basel, the project will open to the public on June 4 at the Kunstmuseum St. Gallen. From June 5th to July 19th, museum visitors can participate within this artistic research project. Visitors taking part in eMotion will be presented with a view of their own art-perception, their mental, physical as well as temporal reactions, will be rendered palpable within an installation subsequent to the exhibition.

The Museum as Force-Field
The research team follows in the conceptual tradition of Alexander Dorner, a founding figure in contemporary curatorship, by investigating the museum as a force-field (“Kraftfeld”). The research will not attempt to name what art is, but rather how it operates within the museum situation, the ways in which the works produce affect, and effects the perception of the museum visitor.

Within the canons of art discourse, there exist several theories as to the phenomenon of art perception – yet to date only rarely empirically tested. If one, for example, follows institutionally oriented models of explanation, it is the museum, or institutional context that frames the work of art as such. Art theoretical and curatorial positions suggest that the meaning of an artwork is created by the hanging, positioning and spatial relationships within a perceptual field. Art psychology would suggest that meaning comes from the work, its materiality (or lack thereof) and “Gestalt” to produce an effect upon the viewer. Art sociologists argue that it is the biographical baggage of the visitor – their expectations and foreknowledge – that combine to forge an experience for the visitor.

It is, however, the underlying thesis of eMotion that all such diverse, disciplinary perspectives (the institutional, curatorial, psychological and sociological positions), coalesce in the production of an experience for the viewer – the combined effects of ‘Becoming-Art’ (Boris Groys). As such, the eMotion team has operated in a distinctly trans-disciplinary fashion, compounding the research approaches of sociologists, psychologists, art theorists and museums studies. Programmers, tracking specialists and interface developers have been working alongside the scientific team, developing tools through which substantial information can be culled.

Artistic Research
The cross-pollination of artistic methods of research and presentation across diverse fields of knowledge is at the heart of interest at the Institute for Design and Art-Research, Applied University of Design and Art, Basel. In the creative economy, the mercurial nature of artistic research possesses the strength in developing novel forms of seeing and experiencing the intangible, thus opening up unknown knowledge territories to interpretation. The task of the artists taking part in the project is to develop modes of collection and translation of data – opening up an aesthetic field for the visitors and scientists to understand the impact of the museum and it’s contents.

eMotion is a National Research project of the Institute for Design and Artistic Research at the Applied University of Design and Art Basel. Partner Institutions are: Kunstmuseum St.Gallen, University Basel, Leuphana University Lüneburg, Zeppelin University Friedrichshafen, ETH Zürich and the University of Cambridge.

Further information can be found on our website:

Kunstmuseum St.Gallen
Museumstrasse 32
CH-9000 St.Gallen

eMotion is a Research and Media Arts Project funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation and Ubisense

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May 29, 2009

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