Affinity and Battlefield
The museums of cultural and natural history communicate national and local heritage from a broad range of scientific categories to a public audience. Museums have specific ways of communicating: The exhibition is most often the core of the mediation, the most important tool and characteristic, and can in a direct way show the thoughts and ideas behind what a museum wishes to communicate to its audiences. Museums are media- and learning institutions that to a large degree define what is considered common heritage of the national state and define the values of the community through the stories they present. Thus they have been and still are strong symbols of power. In the dissertation I investigate institutionalized science – and culture communication seeing it as specific media and communication practices to be analyzed, discussed and negotiated. A primary focus (a) is on development and implementation of new digital technology for supporting museum and science communication. Other foci are: (b) the crossdisciplinary situation often found in these communication development settings and possible affects on the communication result due to power structures in play, and (c) aesthetic issues – form and genre characteristics, modes of communication and media specificity within digitally supported science- and culture communication. Both the old museum medium and new digital media can be described as spatial and object-oriented, and thus multi-medial – the museum in a physical sense, new media in a virtual sense. The shared qualities might help us understand forms of communication at museums; how museums communicate best through the physical exhibition space and how new digital media technology (like for instance computer games) can be implemented as part of the communication-landscape. This is an argument of this work and will be further elaborated in the aesthetic analysis with an emphasis on the database versus the narrative as different forms of communication. Practical development of works of science communication is part of the methodology and provides research data to both (a), (b) and (c). Participation in (1) the development of a computer learning game for children communicating maritime biology and (2) the development of a physical learning installation (comprising digital parts) to a science center on the same theme make up the empirical cornerstone of the project. It provides a cross-disciplinary group work situation that will be approached with different fieldwork methods like participating observation, using video as documentation media, supplemented by qualitative interviews. Furthermore all developed design documents will be available for analysis in all stages of development. Thus both the documentation of the process of aesthetical and technical development AND the final communication results, the computer learning game and the installation, will constitute the pool of research data that make up the basis of the analysis in the dissertation.