First I didn’t think about how this reading is related to what we are talking about in class now until I reached “PD(planned discovery) exhibits are sometimes phenomenologically rich enough for self-discovery to be possible,…”  Why did the author use “phenomenologically” to describe the richness of an museum exhibits?  What on earth does this mean?  How does phenomenology have something to do with PD museum exhibits? Today’s lunch time, Chad mentioned that the APE (Active Prolonged Engagement)is sort of structuralism point of view.  What??What??  How on earth does structuralism have anything to do with museum exhibits too??  We didn’t have time to finish this conversation, which lead to this blog post of my “guessing” and trying to understand phenomenology and structuralism in the context of this reading.

In Barnard’s Visual Culture, he mentioned that in hermeneutic traditions, the life-world is the starting point of understanding, and “intention proved to be what the hermeneutic tradition conceived understanding to begin from.”  If we think about PD exhibits, they actually promote sort of phenomenological way of understanding.  Visitors with their own individual life-world, follow the exhibits’ instructions, look for and observe what they’re told to see, do what they are told to do, during which they expand their life-world and horizons and get closer to the exhibit creator’s horizons and intentions.  The whole process is about individual’s understanding, and a fusion of horizon of visitors and creators.

As for structuralism, as explained by Barnard “the individual consciousness is itself a product of structures.”  “Meaning, here is something which must be organized, it is the result, or product, of a place in a structure , an organized set of elements.” “Understanding is a product of structure, not of individual intention.”  Then let’s look at APE again through the lens of structuralism.  APE promotes to put visitors in the whole network of exhibits elements, events, and other visitors.  It is through the active interaction with the exhibits and other visitors, the meaning comes clear.  Authority is shifted from museum or exhibits creators to visitors, who become the participant of their own discovery.  “APE unfolded as a series of attempts to discover, create, and refine strategies for promoting and measuring active prolonged engagement.” In the whole network and structure of visitors, their attempts, social interactions, doing and undergoing with the museum exhibits and so on, the meaning and understanding of individual visitor is constructed and produced.

hmmm, I’m not sure if the above makes sense or just bullshit…any comments are welcome.  Please help me understand the two terms:phenomenology and structuralism…..:(

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