“where does this work belong?” new digital approaches to evaluating engagement with art

Jeremy Knox, University of Edinburgh, UK, Jen Ross, University of Edinburgh, Scotland

Published paper: “Where does this work belong?” New digital approaches to evaluating engagement with art

How can digital encounters between art and place be visualised and become a story about engagement that is meaningful for visitors, gallery educators, and funders? What does it mean to be inventive about evaluation?

These questions have informed the work of the Artcasting project team at the University of Edinburgh and their partners at the National Galleries of Scotland and Tate, in the context of the United Kingdom’s ARTIST ROOMS touring exhibition. ARTIST ROOMS is a collection of more than sixteen hundred works of international contemporary art, jointly owned and managed by Tate and National Galleries of Scotland. ARTIST ROOMS On Tour shares the collection throughout the UK in a programme of exhibitions organised in collaboration with local associate galleries of all sizes. ARTIST ROOMS On Tour puts internationally important contemporary artworks in many locations that do not routinely have access to such works and puts the task of making them relevant in the hands of local galleries and users. It particularly aims to ensure the collection engages new, young audiences, and this is mirrored in this project by a focus on young people (ages thirteen to twenty-five).

Artcasting invites visitors to make an imaginative association between art and place and uses beacon and geofencing technology, combined with user-generated content, to create places in the world where artworks from the collection can be re-encountered—what we are calling “artcasts.” At the same time, the project has developed a framework through which artcasts can be understood in evaluative terms; drawing from Arts Council England’s new “quality principles”[1] and working closely with ARTIST ROOMS and associate galleries to understand what practitioners and funders really need and want from their evaluation practices. Artcasting is an innovative digital intervention, but also an object to think and learn with, going beyond instrumental uses of technology to solve a specific problem, moving towards “inventive problem-making” (Michael, 2012).

Belfiore, E., 2015. “Impact”, “value” and “bad economics”: Making sense of the problem of value in the arts and humanities. Arts and Humanities in Higher Education, 14(1), pp.95–110.
Belfiore, E. & Bennett, O., 2010. Beyond the “Toolkit Approach”: arts impact evaluation research and the realities of cultural policy-making. Journal for cultural research, 14(2), pp.121–142.
Belfiore, E. & Bennett, O., 2007. Rethinking the Social Impacts of the Arts. International Journal of Cultural Policy, 13(2), pp.135–151.
Brown, A.S. & Novak-Leonard, J.L., 2013. Measuring the intrinsic impacts of arts attendance. Cultural Trends, 22(3-4), pp.223–233.
Charitonos, K. et al., 2012. Museum learning via social and mobile technologies: (How) can online interactions enhance the visitor experience? British Journal of Educational Technology, 43(5), pp.802–819.
Chen, W., 2015. A Moveable Feast: Do Mobile Media Technologies Mobilize or Normalize Cultural Participation? Human Communication Research, 41(1), pp.82–101.
Dewdney, A., Dibosa, D. & Walsh, V., 2013. Post Critical Museology: Theory and Practice in the Art Museum, Routledge.
Enriquez, J., 2013. Being (t)here: mobilising “mediaspaces” of learning. Learning, Media and Technology, 38(3), pp.319–336.
Fisher, M. & Moses, J., 2013. Rousing the Mobile Herd: Apps that Encourage Real Space Engagement. In Museums and the Web. Available at: http://mw2013.museumsandtheweb.com/paper/rousing-the-mobile-herd-apps-that-encourage-real-space-engagement/ [Accessed January 30, 2014].
Frith, J. & Kalin, J., 2015. Here, I Used to Be: Mobile Media and Practices of Place-Based Digital Memory. Space and Culture, p.1206331215595730.
Giaccardi, E., 2012. Heritage and Social Media: Understanding Heritage in a Participatory Culture, Routledge.
Hawcroft, R., 2015. Beyond the building: Creating and supporting communities based on place. In MW2015: Museums and the Web 2015. Chicago.
Hogsden, C. & Poulter, E.K., 2012. The real other? Museum objects in digital contact networks. Journal of Material Culture, 17(3), pp.265–286.
Hooper-Greenhill, E., 2004. Measuring Learning Outcomes in Museums, Archives and Libraries: The Learning Impact Research Project (LIRP). International Journal of Heritage Studies, 10(2), pp.151–174.
Hsi, S., 2003. A study of user experiences mediated by nomadic web content in a museum. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 19(3), pp.308–319.
Lynch, B., 2009. Whose Cake is it Anyway?: A collaborative investigation into engagement and participation in twelve museums and galleries in the UK, Paul Hamlyn Foundation. Available at: http://www.collectionstrust.org.uk/home/whose-cake-is-it-anyway-a-collaborative-investigation-into-engagement-and-participation-in-twelve-museums-and-galleries-in-the-uk [Accessed July 13, 2015].
Michael, M., 2012. “What Are We Busy Doing?” Engaging the Idiot. Science, Technology & Human Values, 37(5), pp.528–554.
Prior, N., 2011. Speed, Rhythm, and Time-Space: Museums and Cities. Space and Culture, 14(2), pp.197–213.
Roberson Jr, D.N., 2010. Free Time in an Art Museum: Pausing, Gazing and Interacting. Leisure Sciences, 33(1), pp.70–80.
Soren, B.J., 2009. Museum experiences that change visitors. Museum Management and Curatorship, 24(3), pp.233–251.
Stewart, E. & Kirby, V., 1998. Interpretive evaluation: Towards a place approach. International Journal of Heritage Studies, 4(1), pp.30–44.
Vainker, S.R., 2014. Rethinking Young People’s Participation: Two Reflexive Case Studies. Exeter: University of Exeter. Available at: https://ore.exeter.ac.uk/repository/handle/10871/17635 [Accessed July 13, 2015].
Varvin, G. et al., 2014. The journey as concept for digital museum design. Digital Creativity, 25(3), pp.275–282.
Wilken, R., 2010. A Community of Strangers? Mobile Media, Art, Tactility and Urban Encounters with the Other. Mobilities, 5(4), pp.449–468.