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Track 7 : User-Centered Issues

Panel: The Virtual Museum

By Angela Merino, 22 July 1998

Session Chair: Christine Maxwell, Chilliad

Towards a Universal Theory of Convergence: Transcending the Technocentric View of the Multimedia Revolution

Niranjan Rajah, University of Malaysia Sarawak, Malaysia

In a historical approach to the forms of representations of multimedia, Mr. Rajah analysed the characteristics of multimedia taking into account historical, cultural and philosophical elements. He emphasised the fact that a media is not isolated from the culture that created it. During the final section of his presentation he showed some interactive procedures of communication in a virtual reality in 3D.

The following are some extracts from his presentation, but these are not an exhaustive presentation of the whole lecture.

"Meaning is no longer to be found in the intentions of the author, but in the interpretations of the reader. The reading of any representation is not passive consumption, but an active writing of another. With the death of the author, authority passes from the sender of the message to its receiver. As a consequence of increased computing power and high speed computer networks, the new multimedia messages can be conveyed instantaneously with an unprecedented speed. .... With the continued conectivity of the Internet, the totality of information can be said to exist in virtual proximity, transforming our very understanding of representation. What has thus far essentially been a question of the receiver interpreting messages that have been sent by the author, is fast being transformed into a dynamic and interactive exchange representation. "

"In traditional cultures, art was inseparable from manufacture in use. When a thing was produced for any given purpose, it was by art that is was properly made. However this harmony was ruptured when the modern system of manufacture gave rise to two different kinds of makers of things - the artists and labourers."

"Currently, it is not possible to have a romantic view of artists who now work together with manufacturers."

The speaker talked about globalisation and the influence of new technologies in different cultures and he noted the heavy outflow of information on the Internet from the USA in contrast to lesser inflow consisting mainly of requests.

Comments and Questions of the audience:

How is Science, Technology, and Art changing, and which is the best way to keep a record of this ?

This is no problem for the artists that are working with multimedia Art. There is a tendency to institutionalize, but a rapid intitutionalisation will affect freedom of expression. Currently it is an open approach, but problems will arise when it is institutionalised

Bringing Museums to the Web: An Architecture for the virtual Exhibition

Lutz Nentwig, Fraunhofer-Institute for Software and Sytems Engineering

The presentation dealt with Internet technologies and architecture used in the development of a virtual exhibition. The aim of the virtual exhibition is to present the German history in the XX century on the Internet.

This project is developed by the DFN-Verein with the Fraunhofer Institute for Sofware and Systems Engineering, the German Historical Museum in Berlin and the Haus der Geschichte of the Federal Republic of Germany in Bonn.

The languages and tools used to develop this project are the following:

* VRML (Virtual Reality Modeling Language), HTML and Java.

* Streaming Video / Streaming Audio

* Java-applet

* Live Source (webcam)

use VRML 2.0, but they notice that they have to deal with different results depending on which browser and operating system is used and that they have to make a compromise between design and technology (loading time, speed navigation).

This architecture aims to integrate the Internet and multimedia technology.

They conclude that Museums need a good infraestructure for exhibition and the success depends on the quality of the content and presentation.

Links suggested by the lecturer:


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