‘water’ as interface in Viking heritage communication
Numerous are the signs and markers at museums and heritage sites instructing bodies to “stop, look and listen” (Ingold 2000: 243). Screens to be watched, gadgets and touch sensitive switches to be activated, films to be gazed at in silent concentration or interactive spectacles to participate in. are but a few examples of the many artifacts and devices museums work through in order to involve and engage the bodies of visitors. Yet this dense embodied choreography, this profound corporeality (Massumi 2014: 56) of the museum/heritage encounter, have been strangely absent from current museology and heritage studies (Candlin 2004), reflecting a more profound ‘blind spot’ regarding bodies in social theory (Crossley 2006). While tourism studies, following Veijola and Jokinen’s paper on the absence of bodies in tourist studies, have seen an upsurge in interest in theories and approaches relating to embodiment, these have to a large extend been reserved for particular ways of sensing and performing in tourism (see call). Hence, there is still a need to develop more systematically a repertoire of vocabularies and methods directed at the various ‘affective materialities’ (Anderson and Wylie 2009) at play in tourism. Drawing in particular on performance based readings of heritage consumption and tourism (Haldrup and Larsen 2010; Waterton and Watson 2014; Haldrup and Bærenholdt 2015) as well as developments in non-representational theory and affect theory (Anderson and Harrison 2010; Massumi 2014; Timm Knudsen and Stage 2015) this article explores more broadly the role (and interplay) of embodied sensations in heritage communication. It does so by considering the role of sailing and rowing as a way of exploring, enacting and experiencing Viking culture and life worlds at the Viking Ship Museum, Roskilde, Denmark, conceiving of these “as active interventions in the co-fabrication of worlds.” (Anderson and Harrison 2010: 14). By viewing the sea and its surface as “a space that is not so much known than experienced” (Steinberg in Anderson and Kimberley 2014 xiv) this paper focuses on how the corporeal and ludic performances of bodies at/on the sea presents the world of the Vikings to visitors.