Using animation, text, and visual effects as elements of projections on the Danish rune stone, The Mejlby Stone, we explored approaches to engaging museum visitors. The installation positions itself in the field of previous installations and experiments exploring projection on physical objects, but is unique in focusing on fusing the projection and the object in an engaging approach to communicating information at a cultural heritage museum.
The Mejlby Stone is a rune stone originally from the village of Mejlby, near the city of Randers, Denmark. Rune stones are an important and conspicuous part of the cultural heritage from the Viking Age in Scandinavia. Through images and writing in the runic alphabet, more than 2300 stones tell of life in Scandinavia during the Viking Age (AD 950-1050). The Mejlby stone installation fuses the physical exhibit and the communication of information by projecting Roman lettered text and graphics directly on the stone, thereby bringing to life the story carved in the stone 1000 years ago, for a present-day audience. What is unusual about The Mejlby stone installation is that the exhibit itself, the rune stone, is used as the screen.
By interacting with the rune stone, the audience becomes an active part of the storytelling. The digital layer consists of five different elements presented cyclically, supported by an acoustic component. First, the light in the room goes out, and the music changes; it becomes louder, and, from being just sound, becomes a melody that supports the animation, which simultaneously appears on the stone. The animation tells the story of the events that led to the erection of The Mejlby Stone. The film ends by depicting Åne carving the runes into the stone. This prompts the shift to the next element of the installation, where visitors see the runes appearing on the stone as they are carved. After this a visual sequence appears, showing the passage of time: rainstorms, frost, and fire progressively efface the runes from the surface of the stone. And finally the fifth element, the rune game, in which the runes reappear on the stone in neon colours, and then appear to tumble to the floor in front of the stone. The audience is now supposed to kick the runes back onto the stone. When all the runes are restored to their correct positions, they transform into Roman characters, legible to a present-day audience.
Since early 2009, The Mejlby stone installation has been part of the exhibition at Randers Cultural Historical Museum in Randers, Denmark.