ReBlink Experience: Mediating the creation of meaning through digital devices in museum exhibits

The “ReBlink Experience: Mediating the creation of meaning through digital devices in museum exhibits” is a dissertation wrote by Alahna Santos da Rosa, at the Post Graduation Program of Museology and Heritage (PPGMusPa) at the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul (UFRGS/Brazil), to obtain a master’s degree in Museology and Heritage.

This research analyzes an experience mediated by the ReBlink App at the ReBlink Exhibit. The Exhibit took place at the Art Gallery of Ontario (Canada), between 2017 and 2018, and the App was developed by the digital artist Alex Mayhew and his company Impossible Things. The ReBlink App is used at the Exhibit to include Augmented Reality in classical works of art – from the 1800-1900’s – giving them a new perspective according to the XXI century.  The whole Experience was originated from the partnership between the Art Gallery of Ontario and the company Impossible Things.

Rosa’s focus on producing theories about this Experience comes from the acknowledgement that museums are facing a new era: the technology era. Besides the need that museums have to become more prepared to deal with the tech devices, the whole society has been facing a significant change of how we deal with the amount of technology interaction that we have on our daily basis, becoming more and more influenced by their usage. Therefore, the museums publics have been demanding the inclusion of these devices in the museums activities, and according to researches, when theses interactions are well developed, they cause a very good impression at the visitor.

The author wanted to know how these new kind of mediation has influenced the Museum Experience (a concept by John H Falk & Lynn D Dierking). To analyzes that, she used the Regimes of Meaning and Interaction (by Eric Landowski), and others concepts from Plastic Semiotics to set an example of relationship between visitor and object, considered the Museology’s great object of interest: the Museological Fact (a concept by Waldisa Rússio Camargo Guarnieri).

The importance of this research is reinforced by the moment that we live in. With the Coronavirus Pandemic we all needed to learn and get acquainted with technology. Besides that, the new generations, that are also the new publics that museusm are aiming for, are completely used to having this kind of stimulation from tech devices. Their techological culture has formed the way they see and interarct with the world, and in this case, it is possible to affirm that they live in a technological world.

The research was placed in Brazil (2018-2020) and was based on publicity announcements and documents sent by the Art Gallery of Ontario and the artist Alex Mayhew concerning the ReBlink Project. The author’s point of view was highly impacted by the Coronavirus Pandemic and others interactions that happen in the ciberspace and also affects our ways of understanding the world that we live in. Researches like that open a way to reflect how important is to develop different kinds of interactions with technology in museums, not only for the money raise, but also in favor of calling out for the publics we’ve been aiming for: the youngers, whom are related to that.

This research is available at the LUME Repository, under its original title: “A Experiência ReBlink: a mediação da produção de sentido por dispositivo digital em exposição de museu”, by Alahna Santos da Rosa.