How Digitized Art May Invite or Inhibit Online Visitor Participation (and Why It Matters for Art Museums)
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Original versionThe International Journal of the Inclusive Museum. 2018, 11 (3), 51-72. 10.18848/1835-2014/CGP/v11i03/51-72
The aim of this article is to examine diversity dimensions of participation and its role in visitors’ encounters with digitized artworks online. Though often employed in discourse on museum digitization, the notion of participation remains resistant to clear-cut definition, as it is diversified in both theoretical content and practical usage. Through phenomenological analysis of online museum visitors’ reflections on accessing digitized artworks on Norwegian web museum portal DigitaltMuseum and online 3D design community Thingiverse, the diverse participatory potential of photographic, 3D rendered and 3D printed surrogate objects and the platforms on which they appear, is explored. The analysis comprises co-examination of perspectives of participation and mediated materiality, and contributes to the development of a relational understanding of participation, where the encounter between museum object and visitor is vital. As the focus group study is conducted as a Socratic Dialogue—a form of in-depth, at-length philosophical conversation not yet widely employed in empirical research within the humanities—the study also contributes to exploring the use of this method in a qualitative research context.