Cognitive Sensations – Programme information

Cognitive Sensations is an exhibition programme investigating the effects of digital technology on the way humans think and behave, in relation to exhibition environments. The programme will raise integral questions from artists and creative practitioners, exploring how exhibitions should be shaped and designed in the digital age.

The programme will be divided into:

A panel discussion at FACT (Foundation of Art and Creative Technology), featuring as a key part of their programme Collide exploring the relationship between art and science.

An immersive exhibition consisting of installation & new-media works.

The development of a blog and publication to promote the research around programme content.

The exhibition will address issues around attention span, working memory and internet addiction, and will have a strong focus on psychological architecture and exhibition design.


As a curator, my initial interest for this project grew from my observations of visitors interacting with exhibitions through their smartphones, and I could see how a new kind of museum behaviour was emerging. The whole purpose of this project is to better understand how people are affected by digital technology, and how exhibition environments might function in response.

Many of us will spend our days organised, entertained and interrupted by our digital devices. They have become our central method of communication and our predominant information system. This growing presence, alongside the technologies we use to access the internet, has begun to change the way that our brains function. Writer and commentator of the digital age Nicholas Carr evaluates the effects of the internet on the way we process information:

“Calm, focused, undistracted, the linear mind is being pushed aside by a new kind of mind that wants and needs to take in and dole out information in short, disjointed, often overlapping bursts- the faster, the better” (2011, p10)

The museum environment will inevitably adapt to the digital age, offering experiences designed for humans driven by technology. This programme will analyse what this environment should look like, posing the question; should museum spaces offer peaceful experiences distanced from the fast pace of life; or should they contain designs that reflect it, presenting information in short bursts just as a computer would?


Carr, N (2011) The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains. W. W Norton & Company, Inc.


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