The Enlightened Eye: Crafting Interaction and Interpretation through Situational Design

Jason Cleverly, Falmouth University, UK

This research is concerned with a growing interest amongst artists, curators and designers, in devising new multimedia assemblies to enhance engagement with museum collections. These initiatives reveal a commitment to creating new opportunities for visitor participation and learning, and for artists and designers to generate and address interpretation in distinctive and novel formats.
The Enlightened Eye is a museum interactive designed by the author to enhance visitor experience of mineral specimens. The Enlightened Eye supports a system of planetary gears allowing mineral samples to be examined sequentially by a digital microscope. Using a touch screen and a specially designed interface, visitors can annotate and select close up views to make unique responses that can be shared online.
The seeming archaic technology and the kinetic machine styling is an evocation of the camera obscura and the orrery. The manual controls are positioned to encourage visitors to cooperate, engender collaboration and enhance participation. These considerations conform to a programme of aesthetic design and affordance, aimed to support memorable interactions and meaning making. Additionally by inviting virtual and material inspection and response, the Enlightened Eye aims to enhance the objects under scrutiny.
This paper aims to explore and critique relevant museum initiatives and to evaluate the preliminary operational performance of the Enlightened Eye.

The Enlightened Eye is an active situational interpretive, part of the Mining Heritage and Minerals collection at Liskeard and General Museum Liskeard Cornwall, UK.

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