In a new article in International Journal of Heritage Studies, Joar Skrede, Ole Risbøl, Gro Jerpåsen and I explore how perspectives from social semiotics and non-representational theory may be used to examine visualizations of development projects that impact cultural heritage. The case we draw on is the infamous Bortorvet shopping centre in Stathelle, Telemark County in Norway.

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Stathelle. Brotorvet shopping centre in the back. Photo: Kristin Bakken, Directorate for Cultural Heritage

Abstract: Visualisations of land-use projects have become an important part of the planning process. Using a survey of heritage professionals’ attitudes towards visualisations as a starting point, this article addresses tensions between the expressed usefulness of visualisations and critical attitudes towards the lack of ‘objectivity’ of visual representation and the risk of manipulation for strategic purposes. Moving from the survey, the article discusses how visual representations of development proposals became part of a Norwegian public dispute over the expansion of a shopping centre in a historic town. Furthermore, our aim is to introduce a social semiotic approach for analysing visualisations at historic sites. Finally, we discuss some theoretical implications of negotiating visualisations, with emphasis on the recent debate about representational and non-representational theories in heritage studies.

Read the full article: Skrede, Joar, Herdis Hølleland, Ole Risbøl & Gro Jerpåsen 2017. Views, use and reception of visualisations of development proposals impacting cultural heritage. International Journal of Heritage StudiesDOI: 10.1080/13527258.2017.1378898