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Museums and the Web

An annual conference exploring the social, cultural, design, technological, economic, and organizational issues of culture, science and heritage on-line.

Total Immersion: Re-living the Archive (Opening Keynote Presentation by Sarah Kenderdine)


This presentation plunges off–the-web into new paradigms for articulating and enlivening archives as embodied museum experiences. With the rapid growth in participant culture, creative production has overtaken basic access as the primary motive for interaction with digital collections. Today the meaning of increasingly large and diverse datasets is regularly being expressed by users intuitively exploring and re-applying that data, rather than simply accessing the information.  This desire for creative engagement poses significant experimental and theoretical challenges for museums: the memory institutions and the storehouses of cultural material.[1]

Since the advent of location based entertainment as early as the 17th century (typified by all manner of optical devices, magic lanterns, various phantasmagorias, cabinets des curieux, wunderkammern, panoramic rotundas and kaiserpanorama, through to cinema, OmniMax, IMAX and beyond!), new technologies have inspired museums to explore new forms of cinematographic and video narratives, the opening of experimental acoustic spaces, and the shifting of artistic, scientific and curatorial praxis inside the ‘machines’ themselves, all driven by the desire for public engagement. Our cultural institutions are also seeking to develop new apparatus of experience (both software and hardware) for which there was no former demand, and engineer new stages for participatory performance never before conceived. This talk encourages museums to act as applied laboratories, nodes of experimentation for the cultural imaginary of our times. [2]

Using heterogeneous datasets representing intangible and tangible heritage, this talk explores interactive applications inside a series of large-scale immersive visualization systems: interactive 3D panoramic 360-degree displays (PLACE; AVIE), hemispherical domes (Media Dome and iDome), 3D panoptic hexagonal viewing systems (Re-Actor, The Virtual Room) and more. Dr Kenderdine and her colleagues are leading research into cultural data sculpting at the Applied Laboratory for Interactive Visualization and Embodiment, City University of Hong Kong in collaboration with cultural institutions such as Museum Victoria and ZKM Karlsruhe.  This research involves scientific, natural history and cultural collections, archaeological documentation, panoramic photographic, video and ambisonic recordings, and web-based archives. TOTAL IMMERSION engages cultural heritage archives in contemporary museum discourses and future practices through acts of creative transformation.

[1] Australian Research Council Linkage Grant (2011 – 2014) "The narrative reformulation of multiple forms of databases using a recombinatory model of cinematic interactivity" (UNSW iCinema Research Centre, Museum Victoria, ALiVE, City University).

[2] Inspiration taken from Siegfried Zielinski, 2006, Deep Time of New Media: Toward an Archaeology of Hearing and Seeing by Technical Means (Electronic Culture: History, Theory, and Practice). The MIT Press.


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sarah kenderdine's picture
Dr. Kenderdine researches at the forefront of interactive and immersive experiences for museums and galleries. In widely exhibited installation works, she has amalgamated cultural heritage with new media art practice, especially in the realms of interactive cinema, augmented reality and embodied...