New Narrative Spaces

New Narrative Spaces

Ico Migliore (Politecnico di Milano, Italy)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-2823-5.ch012

Abstract

In exhibition design, and in the museum field in particular, the challenge of the designer consists of facing the complexity of reality by interweaving contents that they must reshape, giving them a narrative pace. The result of this recasting is a narrative museum. This is a concept that the author has developed through in-depth research and has implemented in actual museum projects in recent years. Conceived as a reaction against and opposition to the type of design used in the cases of the nail-in-the-wall museum and the funfair museum, the narrative museum makes the user the active protagonist of an interactive multimedia diorama. Presenting his perspective on this issue, the author argues the possibility of a polyphonic project, in which spaces are defined beyond forms with the aim of activating new usage patterns, placing an emphasis on the narrative quality of the place in directing the project.
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Background

Designing with a view to the programmatic permeability of spatial borders therefore gives shape to exhibition spaces that are not limited to functioning as containers of the objects displayed, nor, therefore, are they concluded at the end of the interventions by the designer and outfitter. Rather, they are open to action on the part of the public, which is given the freedom to interpret and modify the given design scheme and narrative. In this regard, we could talk about architectures where it rains inside, outlining a designed space that is permeable to the impulses from the outside (visitors, natural light, etc.). These welcoming spaces set aside common architectural schemes and define the container not in the relationship between ceiling and floor, but between sky and earth. In this sense, the relationship with the context, with the casing that contains the exhibition, can also be seen as an extremely free and dialectical relationship. In fact, the surroundings can be considered as a horizon called on to take part in the project, its level of perception having a greater or lesser influence of the choice of design solutions.

These forms of architectures where it rains inside offer no protection or shelter, nor do they mark clear distinctions between inside and outside, between above and below. They are spaces of mutual connection – true, real and not virtual connection – between the visitors and the content and between the visitors and the places, where experimentation with materials and light are combined with the introduction of dynamic events, allowing the design to determine the quality of the place and therefore also that of the cognitive experience.

It was Bayer (1939), who first experimented with the museum exhibit as a defined environmental experience, with linear paths – with a single entrance and a single exit – developed as a book in which, as he states:

«The theme should not retain its distance from the spectator, it should be brought close to him, penetrate and leave an impression on him, should explain, demonstrate, and even persuade and lead him to a planned and direct reaction» (p. 17).

The background for these revolutions within exhibition design was given by the United States and New York in particular, where, at the turn of the 1930s and 1940s, Bayer designed three major exhibitions at the MoMA, then directed by Alfred H. Barr: “Bauhaus: 1919-1928” in 1938, “Road to Victory” in 1942 and “Airways to Peace” in 1943. In each of them, Bayer proposes a “total” exhibit that involves the entire space. In addition to vertical walls, the floor and the dividing walls contribute to the creation of a dynamic environment for the interaction between the person and object on display, while acting as guides and hiding the irregularities of the museum architecture.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Interactions: In an exhibition, this defines the complete range of possible interactions between the user and the exhibition system.

Mirroring Effect: This is when an exhibition involves the visitor by means of the personalisation of time and methods of interaction, allowing them to feel as though they are within the exhibition and not in front of it. As a result, the visitor-spectator becomes an actor who actively takes part in the exhibition.

Spatial Editing: Transposed from the world of cinema, this defines the exhibition system as a sum of dynamic narrative sequences structured by means of time and rhythm. As such, the exhibition makes a range of possible uses and discoveries available to visitors.

Architecture Where It Rains Inside: This defines a designed space that is permeable to impulses from the outside (visitors, natural light, etc.). As such, it pursues a relationship to the context that is dialectic and free.

Multi-Layered Exhibition: An exhibition system that deploys different and specific layers of scenarios, both with the aim of being as exhaustive and complex as possible, of and meeting the varied levels of knowledge represented by a diversified audience.

Expanded Frame: In an exhibition, given that it is set up in a physically limited space, we have an expanded frame when the exhibit itself not only circumscribes the contents displayed but also integrates them by showing that it is able to expand and transform itself, to the point of becoming an absolute frame.

Architecture of Communication: This defines a kind of interior design that aims to build relationships between the space and the objects, and between the space and the people, the ultimate goal being to induce thoughts and sensations.

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