Spectacular Attractions: Museums, Audio-Visuals and the Ghosts of Memory

Open access

Abstract

In the last decades, moving images have become a common feature not only in art museums, but also in a wide range of institutions devoted to the conservation and transmission of memory. This paper focuses on the role of audio-visuals in the exhibition design of history and memory museums, arguing that they are privileged means to achieve the spectacular effects and the visitors’ emotional and “experiential” engagement that constitute the main objective of contemporary museums. I will discuss this topic through the concept of “cinematic attraction,” claiming that when embedded in displays, films and moving images often produce spectacular mises en scène with immersive effects, creating wonder and astonishment, and involving visitors on an emotional, visceral and physical level. Moreover, I will consider the diffusion of audio-visual witnesses of real or imaginary historical characters, presented in Phantasmagoria-like displays that simulate ghostly and uncanny apparitions, creating an ambiguous and often problematic coexistence of truth and illusion, subjectivity and objectivity, facts and imagination.

Anon. 1930. Museums and Movies. Museums Journal vol. 29 no. 10: 334-351.

Arnold-de Simine, Silke. 2013. Mediating Memory in the Museum: Trauma, Empathy, Nostalgia. Houndmills: Palgrave Macmillan.

Arnold-de Simine, Silke. 2012. Memory Museum and Museum Text: Intermediality in Daniel Libeskind's Jewish Museum and W.G. Sebald’s Austerlitz. Theory, Culture & Society vol. 29 no. 1: 14-35.

Billing, Scott. 2008. Smoke and Mirrors. Museum Practice (Summer): 36-40.

Casetti, Francesco. 1998 [1986]. Inside the Gaze: The Fiction Film and Its Spectator. Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press.

Chittenden. Tara. 2011. The Cook, the Marquis, his Wife, and her Maids: The Use of Dramatic Characters in Peter Greenaway’s Peopling the Palaces as a Way of Interpreting Historic Buildings. Curator vol. 54 no. 3 (July): 261-278.

Cirifino, Fabio, Elisa Giardina Papa and Paolo Rosa, eds. 2011. Studio Azzurro: musei di narrazione: percorsi interattivi e affreschi multimediali = Museums as narration: interactive experiences and multimedia frescoes. Cinisello Balsamo: Silvana Editoriale.

Demaria, Cristina. 2014. Spaces, Memoryscapes and the Cinematic Imaginary: Ghosts and Stories. Versus. Quaderni di studi semiotici no. 119 (July- December): 109-129.

Felman, Shoshana and Dori Laub. 1992. Testimony: Crises of Witnessing in Literature. Psychoanalysis, and Histoiv. New York: Routledge.

Hein, Hilde. 2000. The Museum in Transition: A Philosophical Perspective. Washington D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press.

Huyssen, Andreas. 2003. Present Pasts: Urban Palimpsests and the Politics of Memory. Stanford: Stanford University Press.

Gaudreault. Andre and Tom Gunning. 2006 [1986]. Early Cinema as a Challenge to Film History? In The Cinema of Attractions Reloaded, ed. Wanda Strauven, 365-380. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press.

Griffiths, Alison. 2008. Shivers Down Your Spine. Cinema, Museums and the Immersive View. New York: Columbia University Press.

Gunning, Tom. 2006 [1986]. The Cinema of Attraction: Early Film, Its Spectator and the Avant-Garde. In The Cinema of Attractions Reloaded, ed. Wanda Strauven, 381-388. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press.

Gunning. Tom. 2004. Illusions Past and Future: The Phantasmagoria and its Specters, http:/7pl02.donau-uni.ac.at/jspui/bitstream/10002/296/1/Gunning.pdf. Last accessed 03. 12. 2015.

Hein, Hilde. 2000. The Museum in Transition: A Philosophical Perspective. Washington D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press.

Hooper-Greenhill, Eilean. 2000. Museums and the Interpretation of Visual Culture. London and New York: Routledge.

Kirshenblatt-Gimblett, Barbara. 1998. Destination Culture: Tourism, Museums and Heritage. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Landsberg, Ahson. 2004. Prosthetic Memory: The Transformation of American Remembrance in the Age of Mass Culture. New York: Columbia University Press.

Mannoni, Laurent. 2000 [1994]. The Great Art of Light and Shadow: Archaeology of the Cinema. Exeter: University of Exeter Press.

Païni, Dominique and Guy Cogeval, eds. 2000. Hitchcock et PArt: coincidences fatales. Paris and Milan: Centre Pompidou-Mazzotta.

Irina O. Rajewskv. 2005. Intermediality, Intertextuality, and Remediation: A Literary Perspective on Intermediality. Intermedialites no. 6 (automne): 43-64.

Sarkar, Bhaskar and Janet Walker, eds. 2009. Documentary Testimonies: Global Archives of Suffering. New York and London: Routledge.

Strauven, Wanda, ed. 2006. The Cinema of Attractions Reloaded. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press.

Violi, Patrizia. 2014. Spectacularizing Trauma: the Experientialist Visitor of Memory Museums. Versus. Quaderni di studi semiotici no. 119 (July- December): 51-70.

Williams, Paul. 2007. Memorial Museums: The Global Rush to Commemorate Atrocities. Oxford and New York: Berg.

Williams, Paul. 2011. Memorial Museums and the Objectification of Suffering. In The Routledge Companion to Museum Ethics, ed. Janet C. Marstine, 220-235. London and New York: Routledge.

Acta Universitatis Sapientiae, Film and Media Studies

The Journal of Sapientia Hungarian University of Transylvania

Journal Information

Metrics

All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 0 0 0
Full Text Views 200 189 19
PDF Downloads 110 107 12