Art, Museums and Digital Cultures — CONFERENCE

In the upcoming days, 22nd and 23rd April, will take place online the International Conference ‘Art, Museums and Digital Culture’. The Conference’s main aim is to provide a space for discussion to different experts, researchers and organizations about how digital technologies have contributed to the creation of new territories and so have stimulated other innovations in artistic production, curatorial practices and museum’s spaces –all this in a time of greater and deeper interest in the impact of technologies on society. This conference is coordinated by the Instituto Superior Técnico of the University of Lisbon, Instituto de História da Arte and Faculdade de Ciências Sociais e Humanas from the NOVA University of Lisbon and the Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology (maat) of Lisbon.

The tactile relief of Aurelio Suarez, Noche de frio espeso [cold thick night] (1954) used at the workshop at the Musei Capitolini in Rome, October 2019. © ARCHES / Arcangela Regis, 2019

The different sessions draw a wide perspective on digital art practices, going from strategies for digital integration in both artistic, museographic and curatorial itineraries, to collaborative policies and methodologies that bond together art, technology and society. The keynote speakers are focused on new technologies, finding proposals about Machine Learning and Systems of Knowledge related to art creation (Anna Ridler), about how the new technological dynamics have affected all different kinds of publics (Felix Stalder), and how museums can adapt themselves to the post-digital era also regarding accessibility (Ross Parry & Vince Dziekan).

The EU-funded Project “Accessible Resources for Cultural Heritage EcoSystem” (ARCHES), carried out within the framework of an H2020 research project, will present in this conference. Partnering with ArteConTacto and Museum for All, their representatives (Rotraut Krall, Moritz Neumüller and Andreas Reichinger) will elaborate on their pioneer participatory research approach to digital technologies in the museum in order to make them more accessible. Technological tools such as tactile reliefs, apps and games for smartphones, and sign-language avatars have been designed and tested by more than 200 people in three different research groups in Spain, Austria and the UK. These groups were also made up of very different people with different necessities and interests, thus representing different views and experiences and also highlighting the disabling consequences of social attitudes sometimes carried out by museums and other cultural institutions.

Multimedia Guide installed at Museo Lázaro Galdiano. © ARCHES / VRVis, 2019

Among the different strategies carried out by ARCHES during its research, this conference will focus on two examples of solutions for a better understanding of two paintings in particular: The Laughing Cavalier (Franz Hals) for the Wallace Collection in London, and The Peasant and the Nest Robber (Pieter Bruegel the Elder) for the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna. Both examples count with a 3D print of the painting stressing out different aspects of each piece and also complementing them with other resources like Easy Read texts and Soundscapes. All these strategies were though in order to better address the needs of museum visitors, also pointing out how technology can be good, useful and beneficial to everyone. The educational team of the different museums that participated with ARCHES expressed that their strategies and tools when working with disabilities and in participatory environments have deepened with this participative methodology, so it avoids solutions developed ‘for” these particular users, instead of ‘with’ them.

For more information on this project and also getting a wider perspective on digital technologies and inclusive strategies and innovations in artistic production, please contact museumdigitalcultures@gmail.com​. Registrations for the conference are open until April 16th. You can also read more about this specific project (‘Please Touch! An inclusive art experience’) in ARCHES’ website.

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