HyMEx // Hybrid Museum Experience Symposium // took place online on May 6-7, 2021. Its aim was to bring together leading researchers, scholars in digital and experimental museology, in collection care, curatorial practice, as well as researchers from a broad spectrum of disciplines to exchange views on challenging situations and latest innovations in the field of hybrid museum experiences, with a focus on contemporary art.
The two-day symposium organised by Ludwig Museum took place as a following stage of the path introduced by the media preservation symposium MAPS in 2015, followed by three editions.
HyMEx came to life within an international, collaborative, practice-based research project, Beyond Matter, that takes cultural heritage and contemporary art to the verge of virtual reality and reflects on the virtual condition with a specific emphasis on its spatial aspects in art production, curating, and mediation via numerous activities and formats, such as the HyMEx Symposium. Beyond Matter takes place from 2019 to 2023; it was initiated and being led by ZKM | Karlsruhe, and includes six partners (Centre Pompidou Paris, Tallinna Kunstihoone, Aalto University, Tirana Art Lab) and Ludwig Museum. The project celebrated its first curated event, the exhibition Spatial Affairs in April 2021 at the Ludwig Museum and was followed right after by HyMEx in early May.
HyMEx 2021 – FOCUS | CONCEPT
The transmogrified entity of the museum: how to deconstruct and reconstruct the hybrid experience through the involvement of pluridisciplinary angles and by the means of physical, virtual, spatial and socio-political exposures.
Museums as defined geographical spaces have been settled institutions since their inception. They provide a physical and theoretical location allowing assemblies and working as a platform for encounters between people, so as to exchange ideas and to produce knowledge. Museums indicate, but also contribute to social change. However, in the first quarter of the 21st century, the palpable boundaries of museums seem to be blurred: Where does the museum begin, since its physical demarcation lines have lost their almighty substance and since the museum experience does not begin at the entrance, nor stops at the exit?
Museums have the tendency to expand onto digital platforms and create additional content regardless of the location of the audience. The digital world increasingly dominates a museum’s reality and even before that, the audience’s reality. It intertwines the physical with the virtual, blurs the edges of sensing the dimensions that called the institution of the museum to life, such as the linearity of time. Under such circumstances, the museum shall transmogrify into a hybrid entity which may embrace at once a geographical location, various digital platforms, manifold ways of mediation, immersive knowledge production, participation and exchange.
It is one way to describe the hybrid museum experience, however the roles museums may hold within a wide spectrum of societies and the concept of the museum space approached from a perspective where virtual has a meaning beyond computer-generated technology anticipates an approach where the question is less about the technological side of the hybrid experience, rather than the participatory side.
The symposium aims to search for interpretations of the hybrid museum experience within the contemporary art scene in the light of spatial and societal aspects, to elucidate the possibility of the deterritorialization of the museum space, or to understand the ways of constructing participative solutions through which the museum may be an active mediator towards the audience. Also, how to get hold of the ecosystems of museum experiences, or allow an insight into what immersive technologies may hold beyond the visual, personal experience per se?
And as for stepping outside of its own confines: Can the hybrid museum experience help contemporary art gain more responsible functions in a societal context, further than cultural mediation?
HyMEx attempts pluridisciplinary perspectives that remain relevant and constitute a credible source of reference towards the artist, the artwork, the exhibition, the visitor and the museum expert.