Participations: Journal of Audience and Reception Studies
Special Issue: ‘Researching audiences in digital mediated and interactive experiences’
Part of the AHRC Funded Project http://affectiveexperiences.com/
Irida Ntalla (Schools of Arts, Cultural Policy and Management, City University)
& Dirk vom Lehn (Department of Management, King’s College London)
Participations is the online Journal devoted to the broad field of audience and reception studies, and has been running for ten years now, to be found at www.participations.org. It aims to bring into dialogue work and debate across all fields involved in examining all areas of media and culture. Participations has pioneered a system of open refereeing for all contributions, designed to encourage open, critical debate among researchers. This has been widely welcomed by contributors to the Journal.
Call for Papers
New media technologies and digital mediated environments bring histories and events close to audiences by offering a wide range of resources that provide them with opportunities for social, cognitive and emotional participation and engagement. At the heart of the development of new media technologies is “interactivity”, a characteristic ascribed to objects and systems that engage people in ways that go beyond traditional feedback procedures. These technologies facilitate sustained engagement and participation, allow for the communication of information and multimedia content, and often encourage people to produce and curate digital content.
Such interactive technologies and environments have become a familiar feature of many cultural institutions, such as in museums, galleries and science centers. Interactive exhibits, immersive installations, digital interactives, virtual games and online platforms engage cultural audiences in new ways and at the same time challenge the concept of the audience per se and their experiences; for example, they invite visitors not only to view and examine curated content but increasingly involve visitors in the production and curation of it to create personal museum collections, user generated content, etc.
These technological developments therefore challenge the relationship of audiences with artists, curators, museums and heritage sites’ professionals, educationalists as well as exhibition and interactive designers. Their effectiveness as tool for interpreting and representing exhibits and as educational technology is often argued for but also ever so often challenged and criticized. Evaluations of new media technologies in cultural institutions arrive at contradictory findings, some arguing for their ability to increase people’s engagement and participation with content and exhibits whilst others warn that they distract from the original objects and disturb the sacred relationship between visitor and object, user and content. Indeed, research suggests that at times these technologies become the reason for people’s frustration and disorientation in online and physical environments.
This Special Issue will contribute to these discussions about the increasingly complex technological mediation of the relationship between social practices, cultural institutions, their cultural offerings and their audiences. The issue aims to add to debates in a range of disciplines such as audience and visitor studies, marketing, digital humanities, interactive design as well as museum studies and practices. The co-editors invite submissions of papers that investigate the relationships between audience, cultural institutions and content and the ways in which these relationships are being influenced by the increasing pervasiveness of new media technologies. We particularly welcome critical considerations of the concept of the audience and the user as well as of interactivity in cultural institutions and encourage the submission of short articles and reports that reflect professional and practical experience of technology deployed and used in exhibitions.
Amongst others, we hope the contributions will address questions like:
- what are the issues of interactivity in relation to participation and engagement for online and offline audiences?
- how does interactivity and interactive technologies in these settings influence the experience of visitors, audiences or users?
- which are the elements that constitute and influence these experiences?
- how are interactive technologies used to represent and interpret information, histories and narratives in cultural institutions?
- what is the relationship of academic research on audiences, interactive media and professional practices?
- how does a researcher capture interactive audience experiences? Which are the research methods used in the various disciplines?
- what does “effectiveness” mean for different stakeholders in cultural institutions, and what are suitable research methods to evaluate, assess or measure the “effectiveness” of technology deployed to interpret cultural objects and enhance people’s experience and learning from these objects?
- how different users such as specialised audience utilise online material, information and personalised collections?
The Special Issue will be constituted of research papers, theoretical and methodological investigations as well as of relevant reviews, short articles and reports by cultural institutions’ professionals, designers and consultants.
Paper Submission: 1st November 2013
Acceptance Notice: 19th December 2013
Final Submission: 21st March 2014
Final Publication: End of May 2014
Please submit your papers to: