Journal article

Perceptions and experiences of a digital visionary environment: digital curation and the Owl House

Publication Details

Author list: Schäfer S, Higgs R

Publisher: Common Ground Research Networks

Publication year: 2019

Journal: International Journal of New Media, Technology and the Arts

Volume number: 14

Issue number: 2

Start page: 1

End page: 15

Total number of pages: 15

ISSN: 2326-9987



This study uses the Owl House in Nieu Bethesda as an exemplar for interrogating the possibilities of digital curation in South Africa. It draws on a conceptual framework encompassing the digital humanities, museology, Baudrillard’s notion of simulation, as well as contemporary research and similar studies. Digital curation of a Visionary Environment, which falls into the ambit of Outsider Art, is a largely unprecedented practice, especially in the context of South Africa. This qualitative study is situated in a social constructivist paradigm and uses elements of a phenomenological approach. As an instance of qualitative research, at the heart of this study is an emphasis on understanding how people construct their realities and interpret their experiences. The experiences of interpreting and viewing digital artefacts outside of a museum are not the same as viewing them in real life. This inevitably changes the way that someone experiences and interprets a collection. The challenge of digitising a museum is thus to understand what this transformation process (physical to digital) does to the integrity of the original collection. Digitisation within museums offers so many possibilities, especially in the context of site specific museums that are largely inaccessible like the Owl House. A digitally curated collection of high quality digital media can allow for a museum like the Owl House to be visited digitally, and moreover, that visitors can interpret a museum experience that is rich and layered. The data for this study was collected from interviews with participants who engaged with a digitised sub-collection of the Owl House—The Long Bedroom Collection, and after an initial presentation and analysis of the data, emerging themes were discussed.


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Digital Humanities, Helen Martins, Museums, Outsider Art

Last updated on 2020-09-03 at 08:41