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Illuminating Virtual Reality Creative Practice: Three Case Studies in the Context of Australian Art Museums(2022) Zhou, HaoThesisContemporary immersive virtual reality (VR) technologies present significant potential for artists to expand their creative repertoire, and for art museums to facilitate exhibition delivery and visitor engagement. To date, studies in the field focus predominantly on identifying the affordances and constraints of VR for art museums and examining visitor experience in the virtual context, with little attention paid to artists as creators of VR works and their realities in the creative process. Illuminating artists’ experiences of ideation and creation helps develop insider’s perspectives beyond what can be determined from solely inspecting the finished works or their reception, and understand how the potentiality and novelty of VR are negotiated in practice and translated into meaningful installations. This research seeks to cast light on the creative practice with VR through three selected projects in the context of Australian art museums as case studies, exploring why and how the artists employed VR in their particular situations. Adopting a qualitative research paradigm and naturalistic inquiry approach, each case study follows a two-phase research design, conducting a review of literature that critiques the project and semi-structured interviews with artists in each phase respectively. Thematic analysis is applied to analyse interview data to derive meanings, patterns and embedded ideas from artists’ accounts. Within-case analysis has generated a detailed presentation of each project regarding its context, VR work(s) produced and the creative process. Led by the research questions, cross-case comparative analysis has established a range of themes and sub-themes (as manifestations of the themes in the case studies), which are integrated and presented as a table. These themes concern the affordances of VR valued by the artists that lead to their employment of the technologies, significant factors influencing their creative process, and key considerations underlying their conceptualisation of VR works and adoption of corresponding approaches. This research contributes new knowledge to understanding artist’s practice in making VR installations, by revealing a range of significant and commonly encountered elements characterising the creative practice, and their contextualised manifestations in the particular case projects. The findings provide art practitioners with a set of considerations for future engagement with VR.
The Making of Midnight Oil: Exhibition design and the translation of rock music from stage to museum(2022) Osmond, WendyThesisThe ways in which museums construct and negotiate visitor experience are being challenged by expanding and converging modes of spectatorship and representation. This thesis models the relationship between live performance and its exhibition through an examination of the recently emerged genre of the rock music exhibition. The study explores historical antecedents, contemporary practices and explanatory models relating to this phenomenon, arguing that while museums continue to be gathering places for shared encounters and immersive spectatorship, design choices for modes of representation are subject to rapid changes in sound and imaging technologies, and associated meanings of fidelity. Exhibition development practices in museums lack a shared language that accounts for the changing paradigms of knowledge production driving the popular music exhibition phenomenon, meaning that new approaches are required from designers. A case study analysis of the travelling exhibition The Making of Midnight Oil (2014–2017) examines one such project from my designer-researcher’s perspective. Interviews with members of the creative team in different venues, analyses of visitor contributions and design documentation, and a reflexive approach to the theory-practice nexus produce a granular account of the mediation of experience from production to reception. The rock exhibition is examined as a site of negotiable discourses of liveness, authenticity and power, in which design is a key agent of meaning-making. A blended social semiotic framework, newly applied to exhibition design, is used to describe the re-presentation of source phenomena in this emblematic multimodal space. The outcome is an explanatory model of possible responses to the challenge of mediating liveness in the museum, in which exhibition experience is modelled as a dialogic co-construction of gradable meanings between members of a multidisciplinary team, visitors, and institutional and social contexts that are distributed across on-site, off-site, and online places. By identifying how different design choices select certain truth criteria for fidelity of representation, this thesis provides a shared design lexicon of broadened choices for the mediation of live events: a re-imagining of the exhibition design brief as a Modality question. It is designed to foster increased understanding and cross-modal experimentation in interdisciplinary creative teams.