Kate and Nic gave a hands on presentation of the Sensory Objects project to the Inclusive Museums Conference at the Autry Museum in Los Angeles. We sent a big box containing Sensory Objects developed by our Co-researchers from Reading College at MERL and also the Access to Heritage Group in Liverpool. We showed slides and videos of our current group from the Tower Project at the British Museum to explain our project conference attendees. We met people from all over the world who were interested in our project. The pictures below show some of them trying out the objects you can see Phillip and Johns scrapbooks of Sudley House Liverpool, Sians mooing boot and Rachel’s Pink grunting Pig and Nic explaining our ideas of using Squishy Circuits, littleBits and our research with littleBits go LARGE.
Inclusive Museums Presentation Sensory Objects
Sensory Objects Presenation Nic at the Inclusive Museum Conference
During the conference there were many talks and discussions often all happening at once. One of the most inspiring talks, I thought, was by Nina Simon, she wrote a book that helped give shape to our sensory objects project The Participatory Museum. Below are some images she used during her talk about Santa Cruz Museum where she is working at now. Her talk showed her ideas and experiences of making the museum a place where everyone can feel welcome and take part. She mentioned Pop Up Museums and also the idea of the museum acting as a place for people to have conversations, bringing unlikely people together, she described it as ‘bridging’ the two people bottom left of the picture are a lady who knits and a graffiti artist who meet during a workshop at the museum and really got on.
Presentation Nina Simon
During the talk Nina mentioned some of the problems of making the museum more participatory, that some people in the community accuse her of dumbing down the museum, she illustrated the problem by showing this cartoon below. You can’t please everyone, in the cartoon a character called MAH that Nina said represented her is telling Michelangelo that his painting of the Sistine Chapel is “a bit passive and that he must engage the visitor, leave room for the visitors to colour in your work with crayons or paint ball! you know…. dumb down your work!” Nina mentioned that by widening the audience to the museum you will also alienate people who enjoyed it as it was, but attendance and participation in the Santa Cruz Museum continues to rise and generate income because of her ideas of inclusion.
Nina Simon Cartoon
The video below shows Nina giving a talk which has similar content to the presentation at the Inclusive Museums Conference.
Our seminar was excellent and we want to say a big Thank You! to all who took part you were brilliant. Below shows the events of the day in our easy read programme
Seminar Easy Read Doc
Miranda Fox from Reading Mencap Coffee Club began the day with an intro to the project with Kate
Miranda from Reading Mencap
Phil Lucas Head of Reading College LLD/D Dept was also kind enough to say a few words, he mentioned that our project predicted the future, learning ‘through project’ which he felt was very successful and something that Reading College would be doing more of in the future. He was very proud of what the students had achieved and that it had benefited both students and staff.The picture below shows Rachel demonstrating her pig to Phil and Skye using an iPad to show her Wiki
Rachel with Phil Lucas in background
Our Co-researchers demonstrated their sensory objects to the seminar, the picture below shows Gosia helping one of our visitors experience Rachel’s Pig.
Trying Rachel’s Pink Pig
Trying Rachel’s Pink Pig close up
Sheep cushion that goes baa when you stroke it
Sian shows Tina from the University of Reading Art Dept her Wiki
Andy smiles while photos
Kate Arnold-Forster Director of MERL talked about the impact of the project on MERL that it had given them ideas for interactive exhibits in the redesign of MERL and also for workshops that have a more open ended creative approach.
The picture in the slide below shows the museum where Sensory Objects will work next at the British Museum from July 2015.
Kate ArnoldForster Director of MERL
Special thanks go to our Co-researcher group who came up for the two days from Liverpool. John Taylor and Phillip Ryan from Liverpool Mencap Access to Heritage Group
John & Philip present their research using the Sensory Objects Cookbook
John shows Nicola andPhilip shows Gosia sensory Scrap book
John and Philip gave a vivid report of their experiences using our Sensory Activities Cookbook, by demonstrating through slides, fat scrap books and boxes of textures, and their reflections and thoughts of their sensory experiences visiting Sudley House in Liverpool.
Gosia and Andy presented ideas about using multi media as away for our co-researchers to reflect.
Gosia & Andy presentation
Andy talking about multimedia advocacy
Nic presented littleBits go LARGE and other workshop tools developed by the project to make technology more accessible or is that make accessible technology?
Nic and littleBits
Having a go with littleBits
Nicola Grove gave a talk about the meanings of objects and led a discussion.
Nicola during her talk
Nicola asked for a volunteer to help her discuss what objects mean to different people, she asked John close his eyes and tell us what object he was holding. John gave a great description of the cold feel of a metal key. Nicola asked the audience what a key meant to them, some people said home, but Nicola mentioned that for those of us who don’t have our own key to where we live it would have a different meaning.
Nicola Gives John a Key
Qian Chen our students lecturer finished the day by leading an impromptu sing along of Old Mac Donald! by that time our numbers had swelled to around 80 people as many students arrived from Reading College.
We are going to have talks and demonstrations about the project on Tuesday 10th of June the Seminar is part of Universities Week Below is a flyer in easy read version and with more text about the Seminar. Please send an email to email@example.com if you would like to attend the seminar its free but places are limited.
Although making sensory boxes were planned during this session, we used the whole session to feedback about the book its self. It took longer than expected so we made some sensory boxes in our final session at Sudley, the pictures below show some of our Sudley House Boxes made during our final session.
Angela’s box of Sudley House
Close up of Stephen’s Box of Sudley House
Ticky wrote this report for us on the groups thoughts about the cookbook. We began by recapping on the previous session. We went around the group individually to share Objects made last week, iPad photos, Printed photos, to help them to remember and to share. In pairs – with support staff and service users we looked at the whole of the cookbook.Feed back was filmed and some notes were written in the books. Some really useful comments and suggestions came out of this session.
The name is misleading
It would be good to have the whole section about one activity in one place instead of separated with appendices
It would be good to have a list of things you need for the activity with the cartoon
A session planning template would be useful for support staff
A filled in version as an example would show supporters what kind of thing to write
(We made a template for support staff as part of the Hands On training – but we think it could do with being reformatted as it looks too much like a form and some staff find that off putting.)
A blank page for notes would also be useful
J&G have been adding a starting activity (ice breaker) and a feed back session at the end and this could be worth suggesting in the book if it is to be used by support staff.
Who is the intended audience for the book? Casual visitors? Venue staff? Support staff, service users all?
It could be used by groups visiting if they were handed a sheet on arrival to help them focus their visit on a sense?
Or for a 6 week block visit
Could be a really useful tool for support staff to plan activities at the base through the senses over several weeks – for example a group have South America as their topic and could choose to have a food focus then music……
Suggested that it could be less linked to a house and made more general
Produced as a durable book as it would get a lot of use and handling
Asked about web resources they didn’t think it would work as staff in day centres are not given the time to go on line and down load plans
And they would be unlikely to up load their photos, films sound clips, comments for same reason.
Unless it was incorporated into the session
Other comments on book
Simple symbols possibly in colour and quite big needed for the senses to be used where ever there are titles smell touch etc introduced in the contents page where it can be explained if necessary then recognised elsewhere.
Symbols Used in place of the photos which are too ambiguous in contents and else where (although lovely for the group as they are in them)
Most of the cartoons are brilliant and are an excellent way to engage with the book for people with learning disabilities.
Some pictures are confusing and misleading – microphone mistaken for an ice cream – mouse confuses people – smell pictures are hard to read – texture is most unclear and needs rethinking – possibly using real pictures?
The questionnaire is not made for people with learning disabilities
If you want their comments need more work on this – yes/no answers smiley face sad face.
Some comments written in books directly which I will send to you along with the films of people feeding back.
Our group of Co-researchers in Liverpool have continued to test the Sensory Objects Cookbook at Sudley House Liverpool throughout February and March 2014. Each week members of the Access to Heritage group have met and tried out a different sensory expedition. In an earlier post we told you about a touch activity, the next was sound.”
The group brought sound making equipment with them to Sudley house, Shakers, Keyboard, etc. June led an activity where we all had to close our eyes and sit quietly for a couple of minutes just to listen. Then we went round the room to find out what people had heard. It was surprising what you could hear when you listen! Shoes on stairs, I heard, people talking, Chairs creaking, bird song, dogs barking, Carl drinking coffee and putting cup down, the sea. In the house we went round in small groups with i pads which we used to record images and sound. We created some sounds our selves – like opening drawers, walking on wooden floors and turning the pages of a book.
Sound workshop, collecting, imagining and making sounds at Sudley House
We recorded people chattering and clinking in the tea room. We imagined what other sounds might have gone on at the dining table for example – pouring drinks, laughing. cutlery, clock ticking, banging plates, biting, chewing, scraping. After lunch we listened to sounds each of us had recorded on the i pads: a creaking door, hitting railings with a stick, turning a door handle, walking down stairs, cafe sounds,rain drop, fire cracking, talking. Some people took photos of paintings and photos and imagined the sounds they would make. The group didn’t end up using the sound makers they had brought with them.
The Project team will be presenting demonstrations, talking about our work and running a workshop at the Museum of Liverpool on 7th May 2013.
Here is info about the Event in easy read
• The Sensory Stories Retold seminar will showcase the first year of the project, which was based at Speke Hall, a National Trust house in Liverpool. The research team will present their work with interactive demonstrations of their sensory objects and a hands-on workshop for attendees to try making their own.
• The day will feature a discussion led by Marcus Weisen (Jodi Mattes Trust), and a presentation by Ticky Lowe (Access to Heritage) about the Jodi Award Winning Touch Pods project.
• The event provides an opportunity to discuss and explore museum and heritage engagement, the potential of sensory art-based workshops, the use of electronics in museum interpretation, and multimedia advocacy.
We held a very enjoyable, well attended show and tell event at Speke Hall where we presented our research so far into interactive sensory objects. Researchers discussed the sensory boxes in the Great Hall giving the public the chance to find out about our research.
Members of the public were given the chance to tryout the different interactive boxes and other sensory experiements. The Co-Reasearchers showed their sensory boxes to the public.
We also held a Squishy Circuit workshop in Speke Hall Kitchen to make cakes for afternoon tea decorated with LED’s.These pictures below show some of the public trying out the boxes.
Elle tries speaking cushion
These pictures show Elle demonstrating the strokable speaking cushion and a member of the public exploring the interactive loaf of bread.
We had alot of interesting feedback and visitors were given a biscuit designed during an earlier workshop by Co-Researchers Chris Griffiths and Terry. We commissioned 100 to be made to their design by the Liverpool Cake Fairy they disappeared quickly and were delicious.
In this video below Co-Researcher Paul Lorde is shown with his sensory box, you can hear sounds he recorded from Speke Hall and see the electronics that trigger the sounds. Paul spent the afternoon in the Great Hall showing his research to the public and he sums up the day.
This video below shows pupils from Elle’s school The Royal School for the Blind trying out the strokable cushion which triggers stories about the people that used to live in Speke Hall. We didn’t expect more than one person to use the cushionat once, really enjoying this interaction.
The video below shows Co-Researcher Patrick Cowley with Researcher Ticky Lowe demonstrating to members of the public his sensory box which gives a sensory experience of his favourte room in Speke Hall the Billiard Room. His box also shows a camera with and a flash light triggered by a proximity sensor inside the box. So when you peer in it flashes. Patrick also had placed the smell of sherry he notice on a side board in the room. The box has photographs taken by him on the outside.
We continued to work at the New Hutte Neighbourhood Centre on the sensory boxes adding different ways of triggering sounds and lights. We are getting everything ready for our event on March 21st at Speke Hall.
The picture below shows Stephen with is box it makes the sound of the clocks of Speke Hall chiming at 12 o’clock.
Stephen and his box
The picture below shows Chris with his two boxes one makes the sound of billiards being played and the other one has the sound of the barrel organ playing.
Chris and his Boxes
Chris hooks up his Arduino
Angela adding sounds and faces to her box
Inside Angelas box
This picture shows Anne and Derek working with air hardening clay.
Derek began to make some clay sculptures for his box
Paul and his box
Patricks box has a proximity sensor
Elles Box has an Arduino programed to make coloure LED lights flicker like a fire
The Access to Heritage group continued to work on thier sensory boxes choosing sounds and lights exploring different ways of triggering them. They learnt how to add an arduino micro controller, speaker, battery and LED lights inside their box. The picture above shows Stephen choosing sounds recorded by the group in an earlier workshop. In the picture below Elle is also choosing sounds listening to them through one of the small portable speakers.
Elle choosing recorded sounds for her box
The picture below shows Elle adding LED lights to her box to make a fire place.
Elle makes fireplace for her box
Chris working with clay
The picture above shows Chris modelling objects for his box from clay
Due to the snow only Chris and Terry could make it to our workshop. Chris reviewed the sounds the Access to Heritage group had recorded from Speke Hall. We asked which sounds we he would like to put into his sensory box.
Nic showed Chris how to use and install an Arduino controller, tilt sensor and speaker into his box.
Access to Heritage group divided into two groups and collected the smells of Speke Hall. We had some foam devices a bit like bicyle pumps to suck up a smell and then capture the aroma of air into plastic bags. The smells were labelled with an image or text.
Sucking up Christmas Smell
Angela collecting smells
Michael collecting and baging up smells of Speke Hal
Bags with smells collected at Speke Hal
The group were also given some objects to test with sensors embedded that would trigger sounds. Gosia made some notes about the activity of testing, “Everyone was sitting around the table, there was a lot of chatter. The first object introduced to a small group was a loaf of bread that made some sounds when touched. The sounds were the recordings made by the group in a previous workshop. The bread played the sound of cooking, spoons and pans clattering. The sound trigger in the bread did not work every time. The participants started touching and exploring the bread trying to get the sound to work until the bread was smashed”
Loaf sensor – post exploration
The pictures below show some of the other objects with sensors embedded.
We held the first meeting of the Interactive Sensory Objects Advisory Group at MERL Museum of English Rural Life at the University of Reading. This is a group assembled to reflect and advise on how our project is running. The group gave the chance to share our activities with people from outside the project who suggested where we can improve our research.
The picture below shows the Advisory Group this photo was organised by Stephen.
Stephen Hogg with June and Gerry came from Liverpool to represent the Access to Heritage Forum
The picture below shows Stephen and Gerry with Marcus Weisen looking at Stephens Box where he had collected sensory material about Speke Hall. Stephen demonstrated his box and spoke about it to the people at the meeting so they had a good idea of what we have been doing in the workshops.
At the workshop the Access to Heritage Group participated in 3 activities.
Access to Heritage Group with boxes
Creating a box that contained a multisensory version of Speke Hall. We asked the group to imagine they would send a parcel to a similar group in Australia or somewhere far away. This picture below shows the group at the end of the day showing the sensory boxes of Speke Hall.
The picture below show Stephen working on his box he was interested in the black and white wood work of the house, the servant bells he made one for his box and the swords in the Great Hall.
Stephen working on his box
The picture below shows Patrick working on his box
Patrick and his box
The picture below shows inside Patricks Box. Patrick was keen to visit the Billiard Room again and talked about his friend playing billiards. Ticky helped Patrick mix some essential oils on a napkin to create a sherry smell for the box as he was able to smell a decanter of sherry in the room. He also enjoyed feeling the pattern carving in the hallway outside the room and the green of the table.
Inside Patricks box
The picture below shows Angela working on her box, she made a secret compartment which was based on seeing the Priest Hole in the upstairs bedroom.
Angela puts things in her box
The picture below shows Chris with Terry working on the box
Chris making his box
Here is a video clip of Chris explaining whats in his box and why.
The Pictures below were taken by Chris he mentions the metal of the suit of armour and the metal of the kitchen as important materials to explore the history of the house.
The picture below shows wooden shield and crossed metal swords
Chris Photo Swords
The picture below shows metal spits for cooking meat in the kitchen.
Chris Photo Kitchen Metal Spits
The picture below shows a suit of Armour in the Great Hall.
Chris Photo Suit of Armour
The picture below shows metal covers for food dishes in the kitchen the metal looks very similar to the suit of armour.
Chirs Photo Kitchen Metal Pans
The group visited Speke Hall again but this time only looked at two or three rooms including the Great Hall, the Kitchen, the Oak bedroom and bathroom upstairs.The group were thinking about what infomation to send in their parcels. Some of the carers took notes of things that were discussed and put them in the box. We thought about the senses and ideas for sounds to put in the boxes at the next workshop.
Elle feeling a surface in the bedroom
Elle and Angela explore the bedroom
Elle feels bed
Elle and wallpaper
Elle with loofer
Three: Andy helped each member add pictures to a webpage of the day. You can see the page if you click here
The picture below shows the webpage made on the day with Stephen and his box.
Stephen box on the webpage projected
The picture below shows Elle on the webpage in the bedrooms.
Today we held our third workshop with the Access to Heritage Forum at Speke Hall.
The aim of the day was to review and reflect on the tours of the last visit. Then introduce the group to some simple electonics and hands on modelling with clay. We hoped the group would experiment and play with these materials in order to discover how switchs work, to discover something familiar could have the potential to become something different. Then the group were introduced to squishy circuits making models with conductive and insulating dough experimenting with LED’s and motors.
Derek models the squishy circuit dough
Derek tries the instant camera
Jane modelling squishy circuits
The picture below shows Derek modelling dough and getting his red LED to light up.The picture below shows Derek photographing his model.The picture below shows Jane modelling with the dough
Elle models with Squishy Circuits
Elle models insulating and conductive dough Squishy Circuits with LEDs
The pictures of Elle above and below show her modelling conductive and insulating dough and aluminium, she then added some red and green LED lights that flashed on and off.
Kyle and the rest of the Access To Heritage Group making squishy circuits
Squishy circuit model
The picture below shows Kyle exploring a motor, Elle working on her landscape Tom creating an on/off switch with dough for his model and Jane modelling with dough.This pictureToms Squishy Circuit below.
Constructing keys for an electronic piano
The last activity of the day was to construct simple keys for an electronic piano using pieces of foam and adhesive aluminium foil. Each participant created a single ‘key’ for the keyboard using a block of hard expanded foam as a base, and placing a strip of adhesive aluminium foil on the top to act as a touch pad. A wire was attached to the foil which would be plugged into the Arduino board.
Tom and Elle make their keys for the keyboard
When all of the participants had created their keys, they brought them to the front of the room and we plugged each of them into the Arduino board. This was connected to a laptop running a simple program that used the keys as input to play various electronic instruments, such as a piano, church organ, bells, oohs and aahs.
Keys and arduino
Almost everyone had a play with the piano …
Jane making music
Jane playing keys
This video shows Jane playing the keys
The video clip shows Kyle trying out the keys sounding like an organ
This clip show Elle playing the keys sounding like a piano.
Elle on Royal school for Blind Webpage
Elle attends the Royal School for the Blind and featured in the school newspage telling the school about her involvement in our Sensory Object research project.
We had the first interactive sensory workshop today with the Access to Heritage Forum at the Museum of Liverpool.
The day went really well it was great to meet everyone and discuss how we will work together on the research project as participative researchers and how the group may document vists and workshops with various cameras we tried out in the workshop.
Some of the group had worked on the Sensory Trail at Speke hall, we talked about the objects and workshops from then. We started by wondering what interactive sensory objects could be. We looked at some everyday objects exploring how we use them and what was the effect of using them.
The objects included a fan, a feather boa, some gloves with rubbery bits on them, a hat made from bubble wrap, bicycle horns, violet sweets, a bright green polishing mit, a bar of soap, brushes, a jar of lemon zest. The group explored each object and what associations they made from the various tastes smells and sounds. We thought about how all these objects are in some way interactive, physical…then nick demonstrated an object that used electronics to make interactions. We thought about the differences and similarities of the objects. Nic demonstrated a Bend sensor which made a smiley face smile.
Then the group tested some cameras to discover how easy they were to use and what aids could be made to make documenting the research and become more accessible.
The group gave us an insight into the problems they experience using cameras we wrote their thougts on colour stars on the cameras.
K liked the sound of the Polaroid camera this was felt to be important for those with visual impairment it made it clear when and how many pictures had been taken.
D felt it was important that the Polaroid gave an instant physical result.
P L found the camera too bulky and hard to hold.
The Nikon cool pics camera was liked by the group the camera has a touch screen you can swipe through the images in a similar way to an iPad.
P had a lot of comments about it he liked it because it has one button for video and one for stills P also liked the strap as he was worried about dropping some of the equipment.
A liked the Sony cyber shot because it only had 2 buttons.
Most of the group liked using the iPad to take photos although some found it difficult to which button to press.
They all enjoyed viewing images on the ipad, it’s big screen and scrolling through the images.
The group found the Sony video camera had too many buttons?
A found the Kodak Flip camera easy to use with its big button but she and E found it hard to review the footage.
We discussed ways we could attach the Drift helmet camera to L’s wheelchair, she enjoyed having the camera held at her eye level by the clamp, and being able to see the screen but it was a bit small.
Images taken by the Drift wheel chair mounted camera
We discussed recording the sound of the poloroid so it could be used as sound on an iPad. We also discussed using a mini printer to have instant digital pics. Nick will make a holder for P to be able to hold the camera with one hand.
Some Additional Thoughts
A summary of the demonstration of sensors at the first Liverpool Museum workshop. Thoughts collectively by Nic and Faustina.
We used only a limited number of sensors to demonstrate some of the things that can be done to bring about changes in sound and visual displays. The intention in this workshop was just to introduce the idea of sensors to participants, and let them ‘play’ with these unfamiliar objects, and see what they do, as it is unlikely they will have come across anything like this before.
This was limited to making a smiley face smile (or not) by flexing a strip of plastic. Bend it into a ‘U’ shape and the face smiles, but when straight it is neutral. But some participants used the sensor in unexpected ways:
shaking it, by holding one end
tapping on the table, by holding one end
using it with one hand and bending it against the body
twisting it lengthways
flexing it in both directions
Perhaps we could extend the range of possibilities of the sensor by allowing for these different ways of using it? One thing that was missing from this sensor was texture – it is currently plain plastic, and smooth to the touch.
Although the touch sensor was easy to use (didn’t require any explanation other than ‘touch here’) … most people touched it multiple times, or tapped it, and often didn’t notice the change in sound. Part of this might have been because of the volume of background noise (making the sound difficult to hear) and perhaps also because the sounds were changes in instrument.
One or two people ‘stroked’ the touch sensor, which I thought would be a nice modification for the next session. Rather than just touch on/off, a surface which responds to touching, stroking – different forms of stroking behaviour?
Not many people tried this as they were distracted by other things (taking pictures). The few who did try this out did not notice the effect of blowing. This might have been because the screen was hard to see, or perhaps also because of the action required, and the resulting animation. I don’t know. It needs a more obvious cue .. perhaps a ‘thing’ to blow into?
A few additional bits … (Nic’s observations)
These are the notes I made when we were collecting the feedback from the participants. Some of the observations will overlap with those above.
People generally liked the sounds made when pressing the button (although it was in a position that made it difficult to use), as it helped to know when you had taken a picture. Having the picture appear right away, and a physical object to handle was liked by most people, though the weight of the camera was a worry – concern about dropping it.
Generally liked, though a bit big and also concern about dropping it. Liked the big screen, and found the buttons okay, but some people found the capture button difficult to locate.
Awkward to use and too small. Buttons difficult to use, particularly when using just one hand. On a more positive note, liked the fact it only had two buttons.
Easy to use, and easy to watch the videos and find the photos that had been taken, though I didn’t get a good idea of why this was favoured. Liked being able to take pictures by touching screen. (Need more information here.)
Simple to take pictures, but other functions were not. Difficult to figure out how to turn on. Hard to find pictures and review videos. Buttons too small.