Artistic results

Steven Greenwood and Chandrasekhar Ramakrishnan’s artistic transformation of the research results serve to make the effect of the respective disposition either audible in sound sequences or visible in monitor images. It offers a condensed analysis of fleeting moments of art perception. Through the artistic research methods new types of images that reflect the museum’s effect and its fields of influence are created. In addition to the academic and statistical evaluation of the data and the questionnaires, for the first time this research project allows for an aesthetic realization of the effects of the museum and its exhibits.


The Installation

At the end of their stay all museum visitors can enter the eMotion installation, which was made by the artists Steven Greenwood and Chandrasekhar Ramakrishnan.

There are two video projections showing the aggregated data of the embodied visitors reaction. The network of paths taken by all previous visitors can be seen on the projections. In addition, one sees the active visitors live, in real time, as they move through the museum.
In the Installation room you hear the sound made by Chandrasekhar Ramakrishnan, where one can hear the visitors reactions to the art works in real time.

On a TFT table each visitor who takes part in eMotion, can now, - after loggin in with his visitor number -, see his own behaviour in the museum space. The map that is created through the visitor’s ˝dérive˝ showing the individual path, the walking speed, the respective lengths of stay in front of art works, emotional behavior and the moments of art ˝interaction˝ is then printed out. Each active visitor can take home his own ˝map of experience˝, a graphic representation of his art perception.


The Museum as a Field of Influence

The technical data’s visual realization investigates the various spaces in the museum: the architectural space, the artworks’ area of effect, the curatorial space and the social space that the visitors create.
A work’s area of effect can, for example, define its presence in the museum and engages the visitor. In reference to Walter Benjamin’s concept of aura, the spaces around the artworks are represented as colored shadows. At the beginning of every week of research, all exhibited objects have the same intensities. The more attention a work accumulates over the week, the more intense the representation becomes. The less a work is observed, the paler its field of influence.

Illustration: The longer a work is looked at, the more intense the color of its field of influence. The shorter, the paler. The image shows the accumulated length of observation of all visitors in one experimental series.


Ways of Reading the Exhibition

The exhibition 11 : 1 (+3) = Eleven Collections for a Museum unites three different curatorial approaches. First, it can be read as an exhibition about the collection and donation history of the St. Gallen Art Museum, as the title intends. This collection history is emphasized by the exhibition texts.

Second, the exhibition can be read as a tour through 20th century art history. In this case the tour follows a chronological order that is perceived in a visual/ sensual way. These groups, formed by art historical and curatorial approaches, are represented by dashed lines.

Third, the exhibition serves as the background for Nedlo Solakov’s intervention A Lable Level.

How do the visitors perceive the exhibition? Which way of reading the exhibition dominates? Which curatorial principles do they follow and to what extent? What role does the museum as an institution, the curator’s contexts, the artwork and the visitor play in the reception of art?

How differentiated are the visitors’ art receptions and what does this differentiation depend on?

The following illustration shows the individualized profile of an elderly female visitor who is not particularly interested in art. (Below right: a visitor is given the data armband; afterwards they enter the exhibition.)

In contrast, here the individual profile of a young, very art-interested female visitor:

To better understand the interdependencies between the works, the space and the visitors, in the framework of the research project processes were developed to generate sounds and images. They are instruments to investigate the embodied and physical effect of the museum’s field of influence and its impact on the visitors.

Illustration: Curatorial group in reference to the path and walking speed of eight visitors.

– – – – – curatorial groups

_________ path of a visitor; the faster the person moves, the more transparent the line.

Illustration: signifiant skin response activity (orange) and signifiant response of the heart rate (yellow) of the same visitor in reference to the curatorial groups.


Illustration: Paths and walking speeds in reference to the length of observation.

Illustration: The texts in the exhibition. Information signs are located at the sites marked with a “T”.

Further representations of the spatial dimensions can be seen live at the St. Gallen Art Museum until July 25th. Here visitors also have the chance to actively participate in the national research project.



During the period of research at the St. Gallen Art Museum in the framework of eMotion, different hypotheses on the effects of artworks were tested, for example through the way the works were hung and position in space, or by changing the information on artists and the artworks. One specific experimental test series is put in place per week.

The procedures to create images and sound in the framework of the research project give us the opportunity to make the effects of the different experimental series visible and audible. Thus the way the museum’s field of influence operates can be understood better.

Acoustic Representation of the Psychogeographic Data

In addition to the visual representation of the visitors’ data, a presentation on the acoustic level will be created that passes on the information that can’t be transported on a purely visual level. The purpose of the acoustic procedure is thus to make the assembled data perceivable on a different level of the senses. In the process we hope to reflect the visitors’ mood, or more specifically their different phases and changes during an exhibition visit. It is thus in no way a redundant procedure in which data is simply communicated twice (visually and acoustically), but rather as one that seeks the surplus value, the valeur ajoutée, that can occur when information is transported with different codes through various senses or channels of perception.

“Positus Musarum”, “The Muses’ Poses” is what Chandrasekhar Ramakrishnan calls his audio installation; it transforms the information gathered into sound. The data from the visits control musical parameters such as pitch, volume and duration. The sound installation stands for a form of sensual knowledge and provides us with an additional representation of the technical data. It uses the logic of sound – a different logic than that of an image – in order to reflect the special moments in the contact between a work of art and an observer.

Every visitor is represented by two voices. One voice is controlled by the heart rate and skin conductivity, the other by the position in the space.

Each work is assigned a high voice that repeats as long as the visitor looks at this work.

In the moments when the visitor is especially embodiedly engaged, the voices become louder and more noticeable. Interferences and friction are developed in the moment when the work “becomes art.”

Sonification 1  Visitors 10, 28, 45, 51
Sonification 2  Visitors 53, 54, 57, 85, 104



Scientific evaluation

Scientific evaluations of the statistical data by psychologists, sociologists, art theorists and art historians will be concluded at the end of 2009.

Presentations can be found at: Events