Monday, 19 November 2012

Orpheus and the Dog

Mosaic of the Guard Dog.
Pompeii, House of Orpheus VI, 14, 20
From British Museum website

My first idea was to choose the object and the related building to model and unify according to the results of my preliminary interviews. However, being the BM exhibition forthcoming, I could not ask the visitors (or potential visitors) which ones were the most relevant artefacts on display.
I have decided to start from the items highlight on the museum website and, among them, I have focused on the “Mosaic of a Guard Dog” from the House of Vesonius Primus (also known as The House of Orpheus).
My choice was based on the following criteria:
- I have a better knowledge of the Pompeian cityscape than the Herculaneum one. Having a limited time to complete my project, I thought it was more sensible and effective to maximise my previous experiences,
- I wanted to take hard measurements of the chosen building and it was easier for me to receive a permission for Pompeii,
- The artefacts that will be displayed are not yet in the British Museum. It was unlikely to receive special permission from the other Museums to acquire data about the items exhibited in glass cabinets, so I decided to focus on the flat ones that are easy to photograph and document even without special permissions.
- The image of the black dog is one of the most famous and it has been reproduced in  many books, guides and memorabilia.

The characteristics of the Mosaic of the Dog and the House of Orpheus made them the most sensible choice. Furthermore, an other very iconic Pompeian object that will be part of the BM exhibition such as the plaster cast of the agonising dog comes from the same House. Even though it wasn’t possible for me to acquire data about the cast of the unlucky animal, its story can be easily connected to the virtual model.

However, I am not forgetting user’s needs and expectations. I have started conducting unstructured interviews with visitors:
of the sites of Pompeii and Herculaneum
of the National Museum of Naples
of the Virtual Museum of Herculaneum (MAV)

in order to gather the first information about what different audiences think of the ancient remains and what kind of experience, real and virtual, they expect during the visit.

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