eMotion combines different scientific and artistic research methods in a trans-disciplinary approach. These are:
Psychogeography focuses on the environments that individuals and groups inhabit. It poses the question to what extent the geographic environment, whether created consciously or unconsciously, influences how people feel or causes specific states of consciousness. In developing the psychogeographic approach its founder, Guy Debord, focuses less on interpreting the space – as it was according to the idea of Walter Benjamin’s flaneur – and more on the experience (of the self) while observing. Debord is interested in the exact investigation of the effect of the geographic, architectural space on individuals’ emotions and consciousness.
Psychogeography has been particularly appreciated in architectural theory, architectural psychology, urban studies, sociology and cultural sciences. Strategies such as the ˝dérive˝, a form of spatial and abstract city research while meandering have unhindered relevance in today’s architectural debates.
The art research project eMotion makes methodological reference to psychogeographic ideas, but shifts the focus from public spaces outside to interior museum spaces in order to examine the effect of the museum and its exhibits. The museum as a staged space is loaded psychogeographically per se, through its architecture, the interior design, the works and their placement/ order, etc. The visitors expose themselves to the space and the objects, the ˝museum’s field of influence˝, to experience the effects.
The psychogreographic practice of investigation, ˝dérive˝, can be described as the museum visitor’s typical behavior as a performative moment of perception. Here the ˝individual process of becoming art˝ (Boris Groys) takes place. In walking through the exhibition the visitor is not just influenced by the individual works but also through the way they are presented and the choice of context.
Given the new technical possibilities offered by tracking (which have already been utilized for consumer research, for example), museum research has access to new possibilities of understanding the museum as a psychogeographic terrain. Tracking serves to track (moving) objects in order to receive information about their course of movement and position. Through these extended opportunities stemming from new technology such as tracking, tracing, mapping, network analysis, etc., the psychogeographic approach has been used more and more often in media art since the mid-1990s.
In eMotion the museum visitors are asked when purchasing a ticket if they would like to take part in the art research project. Those who agree to participate in the project, the active visitors, receive sensor-glove with their ticket that they wear while visiting the museum. When they are put on, a project employee explains to the active visitor how the sensors function. The subjects enter the exhibition with their sensors. They move without further influences through the spaces or they are confronted with test situations. With the help of the sensors the active visitors’ behavior in space is recorded precisely (pathway, length of stay, walking speed). To record their ˝emotional behavior˝ (Guy Debord) the sensors also measure heart rate (and variability) and the electrical resistance of the skin. Instruments installed in the museum’s rooms collect the data.
Social Science Studies
The central measurement procedure in the eMotion project is characterized by the psychogeographic methodology. In this case interior exhibition design are seen as being important for the formation of emotional, affective and cognitive experiences in the exhibition’s perception.
There is a level of ˝behavioristic˝ perception of the artworks, then the ˝constructivist˝ framework of the sociologically perceivable visitor’s biography that influences his perception, and finally the active processes of creating patterns that the visitor organizes himself while perceiving a work of art. These psychological/ cognitive pattern-creating processes are steered into certain directions through the viewer’s individual background. Complementing the phsychogeographic approach through the social science/ constructivist and psychological/ cognitive approaches makes sense in order to incorporate multi-dimensional relations between exhibit, recipient and exhibition context and further important factors (experiences, expectations and other lifestyle and value contexts) in the analysis of the individual exhibition experience.
Experimental and Artistic Interventions
In order to examine the museum as a field of influence, the effects of different conditions are compared. To do this, numerous experiments and interventions in the form of new placement, closures, emphases, etc. are planned in order to prove the effects in the active museum visitor’s tour of the museum.
Questions that direct the creation of hypotheses and test procedures are:
- To what extent does a change in the location of an object change its attraction in relation to the space?
- To what extent does a change in the pathways change behavior in space?
- To what extent does a change in the pathways change the viewing of exhibits and the moment of ˝becoming art˝?
- To what extent does knowledge about a work change its effect?
- Does one only see what one knows, or can a work be understood autonomously?
- Does information distract or does it steer one towards art?
- What role does placement have as a generator of meaning?
- What effect do curatorial concepts have?
- What effect does a staging of the semiological interaction between the exhibited objects and the meaningfulness of the location?
Targeted and untargeted hypotheses will be tested using statistical procedures. These hypotheses will primarily be used to find out which variables are responsible for preferences in a museum visit.
Design and Art Research
The artistic research aspect of eMotion is influenced by interactive art, performance, media art and sound art. From the perspective of design and art research, the interesting elements of eMotion are above all the processes that produce images or sound and the extent to which they are comprehensible. With this trans-disciplinary approach to research, the point is not primarily to creat a work of art, but rather to apply artistic methods for research and representation in the area of museum research and the methods and conditions of exhibiting and presenting. Art research brings together competency in the field of conception and scientific discourse in a process of research. Conception becomes a method to make the invisible and ephemeral open to experience and simultaneously productive for design innovations.
Using methods of art research, the repertoire of social science and empirical methodology will be expanded and augmented. With emotion’s innovative setting, the goal is to open perspectives that remain hidden to empirical social science instruments. With its images and sounds, the procedure to be developed here will produce new possibilities to represent scientific results; on the other hand, previously “invisible” phenomena can be observed and investigated with the artistic/ scientific forms of representation.