Light is History: A Community Participated Museum Installation in Helsinki

By Samir Bhowmik and Karthikeya Acharya.

Published by The International Journal of the Inclusive Museum

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

The "Light is History" installation is part of an ongoing doctoral research project about building a sustainable framework for heritage institutions and their user communities in Helsinki Finland. This installation serves as a research object that investigates community participation, energy use, and new media approaches in the public display of energy artifacts from contemporary Nordic material culture. It also engages citizens and participants with the issues of community well being and the future of collective energy use in daily living.

Sixteen participating families from the Kallio neighborhood of Helsinki were interviewed during this installation project to understand and analyze their energy footprints in their homes. The interviews documented their living spaces, the energy artifacts they used, and the associated well-being. Images and narratives of these artifacts from their daily lives were collected from them to be displayed on the installation. During November 2012, the families were requested to save their energy consumption and publish their daily energy use for one week onto the project web portal. The savings data was used to determine the brightness of the individual therapy lamps and to light the artifact displays. The collective installation was unveiled in a busy public place: the Hakaniemi Market Square of Helsinki from 25th November to 1st of December.

The installation demonstrated that community members are willing to display their personal artifacts in the public place and share their energy use for the common well-being. New media technologies and participatory action can help bridge the private to the public, the individual to the collective, and exhibit the community's material culture and energy needs. The project also established that a shared and collaborative installation space that mimics a museum can be created outside the museum walls that is open-sourced, sustainable, and participatory.

Keywords: Participatory, Community, Museums

The International Journal of the Inclusive Museum, Volume 6, Issue 1, pp.145-157. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 2.470MB).

Samir Bhowmik

Doctoral Researcher, Systems of Representation Research Group - Media Lab/ Department of Media, Aalto University School of Arts, Design, and Architecture, Helsinki, Finland

Samir Bhowmik is a Doctoral Researcher at the Systems of Representation Research Group at Media Lab Helsinki, Aalto University School of Arts, Design and Architecture. His research is focused on contemporary museums, digital cultural heritage and sustainable digital strategies for museum ecosystems.

Karthikeya Acharya

Doctoral Researcher, Embodied Design Group - Department of Design, Aalto University School of Arts, Design, and Architecture, Helsinki, Finland

Karthikeya Acharya is a Design Researcher based in Helsinki and Bangalore. He has a background in Architecture and Human Computer Interaction. He is currently working as a Doctoral researcher at the Aalto University, School of Art, Design and Architecture. His research interests are in carrying out design interventions that make public material resource use in daily living to question the normalization of our techno-material beings.

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