With these experiments the issue of authenticity is brought into the discussion. The museum environment is a place where visitors expect to see ‘authentic’ objects. In “a world increasingly filled with deliberately and sensationally staged experiences-an increasingly unreal world-…” the perceived reality of a proposed offering may prove the determinant factor of appeal. With the widespread transformation of goods and services into commodities “what people want today are experiences-memorable events that engage them in an inherently personal way.” And the creation and management of experiences is much more important in the case of museums which have always been based on experiences.
The issue of restoring or improving museum exhibits can in this light be understood as affecting their originality. But this has not always been the case. Up until the 18th century, classical pieces of sculpture were routinely ‘restored’ by adding missing heads, hands etc. It was only with the Romantic Movement that the ‘ruin’ was revered and appreciated as an expression of originality and as a work of art in its own right.
A recent exhibition at the National Gallery in London, explored the contribution of technology and science to the identification of the stories that lie behind some paintings. Through specific examination, it is now possible to distinguish authentic pieces of art from copies, or parts of a painting that have been repainted by someone else than the original artist. Examining the painting techniques, the materials and colors used has often led to uncovering fakes.
In the case of projecting animations and colors on the Parthenon marbles in the museum, the actual works of art, the sculptures, do not go through any permanent, not even physical alterations. With the technique of projecting an image on an object, the result is that the visitor is being provided with one more reading of the marbles. The white, damaged and isolated statues are assuming life and are surrounded with a dynamic presentation which offers plenty of flexible possibilities. It would also be interesting to see how and if the projections will be simultaneously considered as expressions of archeological theories and works of art themselves, as items of artistic value.