Onol, Isil (2006) Tactual Explorations: A tactile interpretation of a museum exhibit through tactile artworks and Augmented Reality. In: Touch and the Value of Object Handling. Workshop 2. New technologies for enhancing object interpretation: interactives, haptics and interface technologies, 1 December 2006, University of Central England, Birmingham. (Unpublished)

This paper introduces and analyses the performance of “Tactual Explorations”, a research-based inclusive public event which includes workshops, talks and a tactile exhibition focusing on one museum object. At this tactile exhibition, the selected object, the Bronze Bust of Sophocles from the British Museum’s Greek and Roman Antiquities collection is represented tactually by ten artists, through one haptic simulation and nine supporting artworks to enhance the physical information. By investigating the effect of a haptic display that is surrounded by physical artworks that represent the tactile properties of the museum object, the paper discusses a new method of a tactile interpretation by suggesting a potential series of exhibitions that are focused on individual museum pieces, where visitors engage with a number of physical and virtual works in order to study the original. The paper first examines the visitors’ interaction with the exhibition as a whole, and then focuses on the results gained from the engagement with the haptic simulation alone. The comparison of both results is presented, not to replace the traditional museum display, but to enhance the information conveyed about the exhibit, to a wider, more diverse audience.

“Tactual Explorations” is formed as part of the current PhD research investigating the topic of haptic interactions with museum objects, that is being undertaken at the University of
Huddersfield, with the title of “Application of Haptic Technologies into museum displays: A real-time "touch" simulator for protected exhibits” under the supervision of Paul Atkinson and Derek Hales from the University of Huddersfield, and Ann Marie Shillito from the Edinburgh College of Art. The paper briefly introduces some of the research questions of this research and talks about their relevance to the “Tactual Explorations” event and its outcomes. Throughout the paper, keywords and some of the common terms are also defined for the workshop participants from different academic or professional backgrounds.

Acknowledgement: The author is grateful for haptic programming provided by Alastair Barrow of
the Interactive Systems Research Group, University of Reading

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