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discovery archeology 1 Content 2 Design 3 City Branding 4 Narrative Story Telling 5 Testing

Camilla Zucchi


Displaying the process

INTRODUCTION “Information is a fundamental element of knowledge. It lives and is actualized as a result of communication processes between individuals and the world around them”. AUDIENCE “Information is the reaction of a user to the content of a message..” Hooper-Greenhill


During my earlier academic career in Italy I studied archaeology and content development. Thanks to my BA experience and my specialisation in archaeology, my expertise has been research, curating the documents and materials to be shown in museum environments and exhibitions, publishing and editing. I have developed content for these specific areas of studies, in which the historical facts, sustained by the archaeological discoveries, are the main elements to communicate to the audience.

traditional archaeological display

Why did I decide to start the MACPFNE course and narrative environments? I kept on asking myself how come we could not get people interested in what we showed, even if when talking to them about what I was actually doing, the less informed of friends, would be fascinated by the archaeological process, but knew nothing about it. I was wondering if the big amount of information was in itself enough or there was more to it.


Why narrative environments? After this first year I realized better that “content” is part of something to be told to an audience. The way it is told and the “where” are fundamental to this process and have to be kept well in mind whilst developing the latter. I then experienced working for a curatorial company called Artakt. At Artakt I practised content development in a broader field of knowledge such as art and science. The company develops pioneering exhibitions and research projects within the fields of art and science; I was interested in working with them because of their innovative approach. I understood their methodology and attitude to collaboration in different projects. As part of the process, we researched a topic of interest connected to current issues in culture and facts. We understood then to whom or to which event, museum, exhibition or publisher would be fitting to address it to. In particular, I was asked to collaborate with the curator Tereza Wells on the development of the proposal “Born Today” for the Wellcome Trust in

London. Tereza had written the proposal previously giving a general overall view of the topic; it had to be then redesigned according to the specific event-exhibition it would take place in. The general proposal was focussing on the concept of “birth”, tackling the key issues concerning childbirth in the areas of medicine, society, culture and

ing to the most important topics related to birth. Also for the site-specific proposal, Tereza shortened the previous proposal and adapted it to a series of events for the Welcome Trust. My interest was in what role the audience would have. According to the space-site-context how does the story-narrative of the proposal change? How does the content adapt and change according to the design? After interviewing Tereza and collaborating with her, she told me that the audience for her is a secondary agent to consider because of its diversity especially in museums. There was no real need to focus on it at a first stage of content development. For the design side of the projects, the curators at Artakt collaborated with a firm of exhibition designers, but they do so when the proposal-content is already layered out and generally displayed.

the proposal the arts. The scope of the exhibition would feature pregnancy, especially the later stages, childbirth and the period immediately following the latter. The Welcome Trust approved it as a series of events, whilst in Italy, Mr. Vittorio Bo, a publisher and curator, was interested in developing it in an event-exhibition to take place in Italy. My interest and main questions were on how the content of the general and also of the site-specific proposals would be developed, what was the story they wanted to tell and the eventual lay out.

where is the story? I noticed that in the redesigning it there was no particular ”story” to be told; Tereza developed the key issues on a knowledge-based methodology, accord-

These personal reflections and experiences have brought me to deepen and understand better the relationship between content development, contextspace and audience. My main question is how the content could reach more efficiently the public/audience if developed whilst keeping in mind the context-space, design and audience from an early stage. “The museum message is formulated through the conscious creative intention of the exhibition author. Nevertheless, the message reaches the visitor partly transformed by the numerous possible communication processes taking place between the museum objects and the people. Beginning with the entire basic content and on to the specific features of particular details, the message depends on the level of the social context of the environment in which the exhibition is installed.” ( Hooper-Greenhill).

2. Design.. Introduction “People as social beings have been closely connected with their physical environment. They are influenced by the experience of the social environment in which the exhibition takes place, as well as by the tradition, the culture, and all the relevant relations” Hooper-Greenhill. As my background does not directly include design, I started approaching space-design during my first year on this course. I did touch the subject in a number of occasions in my previous academic career, but never worked on specific projects. Many people have asked me how come a curator is on a design course and I was not expecting the two fields to be so far apart. Initially, it was not easy; I found myself working on projects in which I could not clearly understand what my role, I had to understand new concepts and approaches such as storytelling, narrative into space and co-design with the audience.

I found myself having to collaborate with professionals from very different backgrounds from mine such as design, architecture, art and psychology. I have gained many positive outcomes during this experience, I have learned a new approach to collaboration and work. I have understood that we all have different ways of thinking and approaching a project, but that gradually we have gained a common methodology by creating “narrative environments”. I have also been able to see and understand all the different moments of the development of a project and have a more complete view of it. We are trying to create environments-spaces that tell stories and the content of these stories is made not only by research materials to display but also by the space the story takes place in, by the audience we address it to and by the context. After my working experience for an exhibition design company called N!30, based in Milan, I finally started to recognize this new and more compelling approach I have gained and how this has changed my work. I am starting to understand what my role could be.

bull + rage

lion + love

lamb + shame

narrative environments?

hog + pleasure

content design




story into space

3. City Branding..the context Introduction

The next step is pacturing the unique core of a region in a vision or “story”. The story is the stepping stone for all activities of the patterns; they provide

“Information is a fundamental element of knowledge. It lives and is actualized as a result of communication processes between individuals and the world around them.” “ At different times and in different social relations the same museum material can therefore emit different museum messages and create different communication patterns of understanding by individual subjective creative acts. We must not forget the influence of different social spaces within the different information topias have been developed. The museum exhibition as a communication pattern brought about by the formal topia of the information space represented by the museum as an institution. Consequently, the museum environment and the context influence the understanding of the message..” “ Each subculture, culture or social community has its own ways of thinking which determine the rules within the communication pattern..” Hooper-Greenhill

a framework while allowing individual interpretation in messages and images. So the vision becomes reality.” Perm DNA Vision, Arthesia AG. Zurich. During my first year on the course I was offered to work on a project for the city-

Why city-branding? “ The DNA vision” consists of two words. “DNA” means identifying what is the essence and the uniqueness of a city, “vision” wants to use this DNA to position a city in the future. The DNA is neither a marketing strategy, nor a brand. It is a narratively defined definition of a city, its uniqueness captured in a strategic narrative. The DNA is a platform

for defining and identity for a city and its positioning among other cities on international scale.

branding company Arthesia, based in Zurich. This further experience had a big influence in my content development thinking process and it suggested possible topics to be develop this year in my major project. I realized that some strategies and thinking processes used by the company could be applied also to projects for museum and exhibition environments. As mentioned in the above definitions, the knowledge transmitted through content is part of a communication process. The communication process targets an audience, who receives it in different ways according to their social and cultural background, to the space in which it is set and the cultural context of the museum-exhibition it takes place in. Thus I realized how the “context” of the space and audience are important elements to keep in mind whilst developing the content. As mentioned above, the DNA of a city-place means identifying what is the essence and the uniqueness of it, represented within a strategic narrative. As part of a first stage of exhibition-museum projects, I think that the understanding of the DNA of the place-site in which the exhibition takes place, and of the audience it will attract, could be of great importance.

Whilst understanding the DNA, desk, social and action research are fundamental to the process - by brainstorming all this information and also the soft “location” qualities - a key element of the DNA narrative is defined through a metaphor. This key world-concept is the starting point for stra-

tegic thinking and the understanding of the story we want to tell. If, whilst developing content, we could have a key

city identity metaphor to define the different contexts, the lay out of the “story” and also the design, the exhibition could be more focused and communicate better to the audience.

4,Narrative and storytelling.. Introduction A methodology “Narratology is the theory of narratives, narrative texts, images, spectacles, events; cultural artefacts that “tell a story”. Such a theory helps to understand, analyse, and evaluate narratives. A theory is a systematic set of generalized statements about a particular segment of reality..” Bal M.

Narrative Environmants

When I started the course I discovered for the first time the concept of Narrative Environments and Narrative Theories as a methodology. I enrolled because I wanted to learn how my content could be displayed in different ways, but I was not expecting to be actively engaging in collaboration projects that focused on places that are somehow able to tell stories. Initially, I could not understand how a story could be put into space, or how stories in books and films

could relate to an exhibition, museums or retail spaces. After several projects and working experiences I have seen how these theories and ways of thinking have changed my methodology and approach… Narrative and Storytelling “Narrative remains a particular method of representation, and like perspective, it is not a neutral or natural system, its effect is to ‘place’ its spectator/ listener both psychologically and ideologically. Because these narrative conventions have become dominant cultural norms this process of placement

is largely unconscious. Its invisibility allows the dominance of a convention to become integral to the fusion between social order and culture” Le Grice M. If we think of a book or a film, or any narrative structure, the lay out can be closely related to our “narrative environments”, as parts or elements of an unfolding story. A narrative environment is a deliberate structuring of

a space and of communication. No environment, object or image is neutral and narrative environments are created by an author/ designer for a specific meaning. Often the narrative environment is the context for a story to be told. A story is a selection of events deliberately structured to communicate a message. By designing space for a specific user-visitor-experience that unfolds throughout space and time, we are also telling a story. A story takes the reader-user through several passages from one stage to another. A narrative environment takes the audience on a journey and develops a scenario-narrative that the user experiences. “So narrative is a method by which events - real or imaginary - are given coherence through the representation of sequential connections. Like perspective the form of coherence constructed by narrative is only one particular method by which temporal events and their ‘casual’ relationships may be represented (modelled). Le Grice M. The benefits of applying a narrative to environments are to potentially: -Articulate space and time together -Harness metaphor and aesthetics to meaning -Apply complexity in message and form in a way people can grasp easily -Draw on a huge range of theory to work out and reflect upon your position -Be creative in developing user experiences.

STORY “Underlying the formal structures of narrative are the complex processes of the identification between the audience/viewer and the represented characters - acting vicariously for and on behalf of the viewer in the ‘play’ - and the psychological/ideological effect of the story resolving the moral dilemmas of the subject in society through its narrative resolution”. Le Grice M. The story or plot is a scheme of events in the ‘casual’ sequence in which they are taking place. Narrative or narration: “The classical narrative is constructed through the representation of characters who interact with each other through a series of incidents depicted in a social or natural environment.” Le Grice M. The narration itself is more complex than the plot. It may record the disclosure of these events, through representing recollections, premonitions or separate exclusive viewpoints - flashbacks, jump-cups, parallel actions - and may incorporate the represented subjectivity of the narrator or even act on the subjectivity of the reader. “Narrative subsequently becomes a model by which experience is interpreted, becomes a filter for the life experience outside the cinematic.” Le Grice M.

5.Testing. PREVIOUS PROJECTS REDESIGNED AND REDEVELOPED Playing with the content: “The Grenoble museum” “Born” FROM THE OBJECT TO THE NARRATIVE “Yellow lines” COLLABORATING WITH THE MARKET ESTATE PROJECT COLLABORATING WITH ANTONIO narrative as a methodology for content development and collaborative projects.

DISCOVERING ARCHAEOLOGY” Exhibition proposal By Camilla Zucchi Content developer-archaeologist. Email: INTRODUCTION Further to challenging my previous experience as an archaeologist, researcher and content developer the development of this Major Project has enabled me to research and understand better the diversity of approaches for the content development for narrative environments and museum exhibitions in particolar. By focusing on the process of content development, I intend to outline a methodology that will help me define a new approach to it, both as a core to my major project and as a possible new career path. This will be based on the research material developed in my previous BA archaeological thesis analysed from a particular audience’s point of view and developed in view to become a “Travelling exhibition” who’s context will change with the different countries it could travel to. As a practical outcome I will test and record my approach to content and develop an exhibition proposal from it, based on a methodology inspired by narrative theories encountered during the MACPFNE. Because of time and other limiting factors, the main proposal will remain theoretical and will range in scale between an event, a focused experience or a fuller proposal for an exhibition within a theoretical location such as existing museums.

Bowls analysed in my BA thesis, “Iconography and Iconology of Isis the nurisher on Middle Eastern bowls and razors”, as content for my proposal. I have chosen, one of the bowls, the Cy5 from Salamina as an example of “material culture” and would like to imagine a possible exhibition-installation that would show the archaeological process applied to it. The topics of analysis will be, the geographical and historical context of discovery, the use and material function and the narrative on the bowl (iconologyiconography). Methodology I would like to apply the narrative theories and Narrative Environments experience gained during this year on the course as a possible methodology of analysis and display. By understanding the three elements of the story of the Bowl, I would like to show how these could be narrated in three different ways. Each topic will be shown in a different way as part of the installation.



I have decided to use one of the Archaeological

the practical use

ichonology and iconography FACILITIES I have chosen London and Milan as sites for my installation. I would like to understand the DNA or identity of



these cities related to the audience. By understanding the DNA I will comprehend the site-specific metaphor that could help me in the strategic thinking and development of the content.

As part of my story-telling I have chosen as possible audience, young people aged between 18 and 25 years of age, the less interested in historical and archaeological museums. By understanding the DNA of the two city audiences, I will use the metaphor-key concept as a design guideline PRACTICAL STEPS

rative according to it. OUTCOME As a practical outcome of my proposal and my research, I would like to ask three artists-professionals from Italy and the Uk, chosen according to the interests of the different audiences, to interpret one of the topics of my story and narrate it their own way.

WHERE The understanding of the DNA metaphor could also be useful for understanding what spaces-places are more used/of interest for young people in London and Milan; I would like to place my exhibition-event in one of these and then test if the audience gets interested and develop a spacedevice to understand their level of interest.

where WHAT From the same understanding of the DNA context and metaphor, the design guideline could be based on this understanding. By analyzing which are the areas of interest in the Arts field, I would like to direct the design of the nar-

the Leonardo da Vinci “S. Giovanni Battista� exhibition in Milam case study

Discovering archaeology  

First part: the work in progress show