I started with reading academic articles and making diagrams to illustrate the interaction in the space. Based on literature review and my previous research in art museum, I mapped out the key elements and information involved in the viewing experience in art museum as in shown below.
What the diagram tries to convey is 1)elements and context I need to think about for my research question; 2)design opportunities in the art museum. I am interested in individual level interaction–when a visitor stands in front of an artwork, things (s)he’s looking at, things that (s)he might feel and the surrounding. All the contextual elements might affect how (s)he interact with the artwork, such as the lighting, temperature, other visitors, other paintings, etc.
By looking at the elements and the interaction among them, opportunities can be observed. For example, right now, if a visitor want to know more information about a painting, (s)he either look at the placards next to the artwork or rely on mobile devices, such as audio guides and cellphone. According to visitor research, some find the separation between artworks and the information provider distracting. People move back and forth to read labels and to look at the paintings. What if the information can be gained directly from viewing the artwork? What would that interaction be like? What technology could support that?
Another thing to look at is the relationships between one painting and other paintings in the same room. Why are they organized in the same room? How does this painting relate to the other one? How does one artist relate to other artists?
Audio guides, apps of the museum, conversation/discussion among visitors, the interior design and online resources could all be the opportunities to improve the information interaction. My interest lies in the purest form of information–the labels, which is also similar to the reading experience I am interest in. What do labels do? What else could labels be? Follow these questions, I will further look into constructivism, different types of labels, new technology for information representation and the psychology of information interaction. I would also research a bit further about the relationships among paintings in the same space.
A long way to go.