Dear Daria, Thank you for your careful engagement with these interesting exhibitions. I wondered about the impact that being able to interview the designers for just one of the exhibitions has had on your wider analysis of the three exhibitions. How much did the process of the interview influence your understanding? It’s really interesting to be at that point of the process where some case studies are more ‘fleshed out’ than others - having interviewed quite a few curators and designers myself, I am quite interested in reflecting on whether these interviews challenge or simply confirm original hypotheses, and how issues raised in one interview impact on later parts of a piece of research – prompting new lines of investigation, etc. How are you finding this with your research? Thanks again, Claire
Thanks for great questions!
The process of interviewing itself showed me that exhibition designers think 'intuitive spaces' (or rather creating an intuitive visitor experience) and first of all question themselves 'what is immersive?'. I started each interview expecting that they will have answers and will tell about their best practices but they were reflecting and thinking through. That, to me, is an indication that equaling immersion in exhibitions to digital experiences is taking away a possibility to design a more subtle and rich immersive experience.
Regarding the point of some case studies not being 'fleshed out', after all, my concern became more about general accessibility, documentation and dissemination of designer knowledge and design processes. One goal was to understand designer views on immersion and look at non-digital experiences, another goal was to document knowledge and views of contemporary exhibition designers and back them up with particular examples which has become challenging. So in the process of interviews (from very outreach to completed interviews) I became more interested access to designer knowledge rather than the research hypothesis on immersion itself. My take-aways were that to research exhibition design in detail, a project has to be supported - sponsored by a museum or be a museum-university partnership project. Mine was not arranged as such and, hence, created some difficulties in access to primary sources.
Other than that, in my research I found that interviews both confirmed some bits of hypothesis and also challenged it. I think in it is the beauty of interviews which bring richness to data related to exhibition design.