I went to visit the historic residential home of the 18th century author and lexicographer, Dr. Johnson a couple of weeks ago to remind myself of how restored public homes are presented and preserved and how we conduct ourselves in such an environment. What do we learn about the occupants and the way they lived from seeing their home and work place? The house is hidden away in an unusual setting within the City of London, next to the urban, privatised and sterile New Street Square which can been seen from looking out the windows of Johnson’s house.
Instead of wondering aimlessly from room to room, I took an audio guided tour which made the visit much more interesting. Perhaps it is a lazy man’s audio book, but I found that it gave the history of the house a sense of a personal narrative and a set structure, which I wouldn’t have experienced otherwise.
There is something very intimate about audio guides, in the same way as when you listen to your own music through headphones. Being directed through he house with a scripted account made me feel much more knowledgeable and painted a picture of how the house was used.
Each house has stories and memories collected over the years. What if we all had audio guides for our homes? Or if a couch surfer or guest were to stay it could be a different way of showing them your home. Due to the rise in home networking services such as CouchSurfing and Airbnb, many people’s homes are becoming increasingly more public. I made a video of how we could present our homes in the form of a hotel.