Show what you see
Ikonikat (Ikonik Anlaysis Toolkit)
Why ask museum visitors to tell us what they see in a work of art when they can just show us? Ikonikat is the fruit of research coordinated by Mathias Blanc of the Institut de recherches historiques du Septentrion (CNRS / Université Lille 3). The application lets people identify those aspects of an artwork they think are salient by drawing on its digital reproduction. This innovative approach means users do not need specialized vocabulary to express their ideas. Experts or amateurs, they have only to pick up a tablet displaying a picture of the work and then circle, underline, or otherwise mark the pictorial elements they consider to be essential or intriguing.
The lines drawn by museum visitors reveal those parts of the painting most significant to them, and the application can indicate the order in which these pictorial elements were singled out.
A tool for research and cultural interpretation
Ikonikat has already been tried with groups of children visiting the Palais des Beaux-Arts de Lille. During the 2015-2016 school year, in the context of an educational program (“Curating a culture of respect”| FRench American Museum Exchange), Ikonikat was used to compare forms that had followed the programme and forms that had not. Meaningful results were obtained, and therefore, Ikonikat is implicated in the renewal of the program for 2016-2017 school year.
It will also be used in a novel study involving a much wider population, at the Louvre-Lens, during its exhibition entitled Le mystère Le Nain (The mystery of the Le Nain). A total of 600 visitors, alone or in groups of 2 to 15, will follow various paths through the museum as they discover seven works on loan from the Louvre in Paris. It will be possible to share their picture markings with the entire group while viewing the original works to provoke collective discussion. Thus, everyone can participate, without having to speak up or use the proper terminology.
As visitors take part in this exercise in cultural interpretation, they are also contributing to research into how works of art are perceived. This will help answer questions like the following: What roles does the social or cultural context—for example, visiting with family versus a school group—and the order in which works are viewed have in shaping perceptions? Do children or the uninitiated really focus on the parts of a painting that a guide tells them are the most striking?
The museum will also benefit from this program, which will allow its staff to reassess their approach to visitor interaction—and specifically, how they display and discuss artwork.
During the exhibition, results will be shared with museum visitors through scheduled presentations.
Research workshop at Louvre-Lens and Imaginarium (Tourcoing)
In addition to providing the material for this unique research project sponsored by the Louvre-Lens and the CNRS, the Le Nain brothers’ exhibition is the focus of an international research workshop. From March 28 to 31, 2017, French, Austrian, German, and English sociologists and historians turn to a selection of works from the Le Nain exhibition to contextualize their approaches to the analysis of images, how they are perceived (i.e., what we see), and how they are interpreted (i.e., what meanings we give them).
After a day at the Louvre-Lens, the workshop continues at the Tourcoing Imaginarium, home to the SCV research unit.
Show what you see
Ikonikat app lets people identify aspects of a picture they think are salient by drawing on its digital reproduction. Once these marks are recorded and centralized, the obtained patterns are compared and analyzed to generate sets of patterns that can be crossed with the profiles of the viewers.LEARN MORE
TECHNOLOGY ────────────── HTML5
OPERATING SOFTWARE ────── Any web browser
COMPATIBILITY ───────────── Any system
Museums, an exploring field
Does the attention of a child or a neophyte focus on the elements of a painting that the guide points out as the most striking? How do the social and cultural contexts (family visits, school groups, etc.) or the order in which the artworks are presented influence the visitors' perception?
To go beyond linguistic boundaries
In order to deal with this issue, the visitor, equipped with a tablet displaying a digital reproduction of the canvases, emphasizes or surrounds the pictorial elements that seem relevant to him or which question him. To do this, no need to master a specific vocabulary.
A research tool
The marks obtained are then submitted to various treatments. For example, heat maps are generated to distinguish patterns that are identified as being most significant by audiences. With the complementary methods that we develop, it makes possible to analyze the way audiences focus on pictorial elements.