Image below shows the Easy Read programme for the first meeting of the purpleSTARS Advisory Group.
PurpleSTARS Advisory Group Session one Sept 1st
Sensory Objects co-researchers from the Tower Project agreed to become our purpleSTARS Advisory Group they will help us form the Sensory Objects Enterprise alongside business advice from EVOLVE Strategic Marketing Consultant Louise Moger.purpleSTARS Advisory Group:
purpleSTARS Advisory Group also met Becca Doggwiler who is collecting Impact of the Sensory Object project. Becca asked the group to help her design ways of collecting feedback to show the Impact of the project. The picture below shows Becca discussing feedback with the group and an online form they could tell us what they thought of the day.
Becca discussing feedback with the group
Online feedback questionnaire
The picture below shows the purpleSTARS Advisory Group SELFIE after the first session at RIX research & media.
In 2017 Sensory Objects were commissioned to make a box of sensory objects, workshop plans and log book to inspire and discover about art and biomedical science and to gain an Arts Award for Orleans House Gallery
The pictures below shows the ‘From the Outside In’ box the box has images of different parts of the body in cut out blackboard stickers.
Sensory Objects commission was to translate this work into a box of artworks that introduce art and science to children as part of their Key Stage 2 skills at school and to enable them to achieve an Arts Award. In the development/testing stage the artworks have been used in schools workshops including Meadlands School and so far 46 ArtsAwards have been awarded. The box will be launched by Orleans House Gallery in August/ September 2017.
Sensory Objects created a Arts Award log book and a set of workshop plans for facilitators.
ArtsAward Logbook front
Some of the objects such as the perspex head uses a sound sensor.
There is also a heart that pulses to be used in a workshop with 4 metronomes that can be altered to match the children’s heart beats.
Other works in the box include a felt stomach, put your hand inside the stomach and you can feel the Shibori felted interior made by Octagon and Transitions Group.
Inside Shibori Felt Stomach
Taking inspiration from Kingston-based photographer Eadweard Muybridge the Octagon and Transitions groups looked at making movements, animation and drawings. The group used double-headed stethoscopes to listen to each other’s heartbeats and drew the sounds they could hear.
The box contains a rolled chalk board with the outline of a person that children can draw on organs with chalk, and a plaster cast of vegetable/brain made by members of the Octagon and Transitions group. The picture below also shows a drawing from an ArtsAward Log Book inspired by making brain casts from vegetables.
ArtsAward Brain Drawing
The box also contains an imaginary creature called a Pegasaurus that is the starting point of a workshop where pegs are used to mark the spine, paper was rolled to make a spine, the box also contains a flexible medical spine.
The box contains a perspex hand inspired by the body as a machine, the picture below shows workshop to create a hand from straws, string and a plastic glove.
Hand Machine Perspex
Hand Machine Workshop Item
The images below show sheets that are in the box that introduces all the ‘From the Outside In’ artists.
Introduction to From the Outside In page one and two
Introduction to From the Outside In page three
The images below show the four projects that the Octagon Club and Transitions Art Group worked with the artists.
Image below shows Memory and Movement project sheet,
Sensory Objects have been collaborating with Access All Areas is an award winning theatre company for adults with learning disabilities based in Hackney, London. We have created an interactive exhibition Madhouse, My House?that will open at Hackney Museum London this Thursday 2nd February 2017 – May 13th 2017 .
Below is an image of the Access All Areas Residents Group who researched and developed the exhibition with Sensory Objects during a visit to Hackney Museum.
Access All Areas Residents Group Researchers on visit to Hackney Muesum
Below is an image of the flyer.
Intro panel to the exhibition
Until the 1980s many people with learning disabilities were forced to live in hospitals for ‘idiots’, ‘imbeciles’ and the ‘feeble minded’. Explore life at St. Lawrence’s using the stories of two ex-patients: Harvey Waterman and Mabel Cooper.
This interactive exhibition was researched and created by members of Access All Areas, a Hackney-based theatre company that works with people with learning disabilities.
The exhibition is called ‘MADHOUSE myhouse?’ it is part of a 3 year digital creative learning programme that accompanies the ‘MADHOUSE re:exit’ production by Access All Areas’ Performance Company. The project explores the history of institutionalisation of people with learning disabilities. From long stay hospitals in 1913 right through to current treatment units.
Below are some pictures of the MadHouse My House Exhibition during installation.
TIMELINE BED History of St Lawrence House from Asylum then Hospital and finally demolition
TIMELINE PERSONAL STORIES of Harvey Waterman and Mabel Cooper
Mabel said the patients were made to wear bedroom slippers so they wouldn’t run away ‘NoEscapeSlippers’
RUFaRO with TOOTHER inspired by research that patients had to share a toothbrush
PILL BOTTLE WALL Harvey remembered being given big brown pills
Pills close Up
MadHouse Bin makes the sound of the Madhouse when you throw away a Mental Health Label saying Imbecile
Kia ora (a traditional Māori greeting), my name is Natasha Barrett and I’m Museum Studies PhD student from the University of Leicester (AHRC Midlands 3 Cities funded). My research is about colonial-era photographs (1860s-1914) of Māori, the indigenous Polynesian people of New Zealand. I have been discovering how these photographs have been understood and used over time by both Māori and non-Māori. This includes within and outside of British museums. I approach photographs as three-dimensional physical objects. They can as my research shows, reflect social connections amongst communities and with institutions around the world holding photographic collections.
A few months ago, as part of my PhD fieldwork, I met up with Dr Kate Allen at the British Museum. Despite our projects seeming quite dissimilar, there were many parallels, which were helpful for my research. For example, groups of people (and individuals) understand the world in very different ways and all are equally valid. The challenge for those of us working in museums is to try and understand this. We then need to create space for alternative ways of explaining objects. Sensory Labels fully and cleverly achieves this.
Kate gave me a tour around the Enlightenment Gallery with a few of the Sensory Labels. Having recently found out I am dyslexic, I was also personally interested to experience interpretation that does not use text. I was immediately struck by the wonder of the experience and sat with the labels on the gallery floor listening, smelling, touching, smiling and laughing. Through the labels I entered into the stories of the creators – the personal associations, meanings and memories that the objects in the gallery held for them. Each Sensory Label is highly unique, beautifully crafted and reflects the creator’s personality. By the end, I felt I had ‘virtually’ met a fascinating group of people who had enriched my experience of the gallery.
The author listening to Ryan Burns’ Sensory Label, 2016. Photograph courtesy of Dr Kate Allen.
Ryan Burns Sensory Label laser cut photo
Ryan Burns’ Sensory Label showing his laser cut photograph, 2016. Photograph by Natasha Barrett.
The labels, many of which include miniature versions of the displayed objects, emphasise the sense of touch. Usually in galleries you can only imagine what touching the objects behind glass might be like. Sam Walker’s use of a real shell and Judith Appiah’s carefully crafted Nigerian slipper let you experience the feel of the objects – their texture, shape and smell. Far from being just interpretative devices, Sensory Labels are also fascinating objects in their own right. Not only did they hold my attention but they drew in other people in the gallery, including one of the museum guides. We had a fascinating discussion about snakes in the Hindu religion, as a result of Katy Woollard’s snake themed label. This is, as Kate and I discussed, the power of the Sensory Labels. They create opportunities for conversations and let people share knowledge and diverse perspectives.
Sam Walker’s sensory label shell
Sam Walker’s Sensory Label with shell on/off switch, 2016. Photograph by Natasha Barrett.
Afterwards Kate and I meet with George Oates from Museum in a Box. I had noticed the similarities between the projects and was intrigued to discuss this further. Both use box formats and readily available low-tech electronics systems. These are easy to use and focus on the non-visual senses (e.g. touch and sound). They encourage people to interact or do something with the objects to make something else happen. Might these devices offer an alternative way of interpreting photographs? Far from being just pictures, we interact with photographs using our emotions and senses. Just think about the photographs in your own house, particularly those of your loved ones. What do they mean to you, and how you display and interact with them? They might make us laugh and cry, and beyond just looking, we touch and respond to photographs in a variety of ways. However this is not how photographs are usually interpreted and displayed in museums. Instead photographs are simply used as images to illustrate historical events and show what people looked like (a form of visual evidence).
Although Sensory Labels and Museum in a Box are not currently being used to interpret photographs, I can see great potential for this. For example, the laser cut photographs of the creators on the Sensory Labels suggests the way we tend to touch photographs. Touch is important in Māori culture and this technology creates a way of experiencing photographs through the fingertips. Sound is also significant for Māori and with both systems photographs could be used to activate the sound of Māori elders talking. This would give them the opportunity to talk about their ancestors, cultural treasures (known as taonga) and the places shown in the photographs. Themed packs of photographs could also be put together and used as George noted, as a way of ‘returning’ photographs (and the knowledge they hold) of people, places and cultural objects to their communities.
sensory labels and museum in a box
Museum in a Box (foreground) and Sensory Labels (background), 2016. Photograph by Natasha Barrett.
Experiences in museum still tend to rely on looking at and seeing objects. Opportunities for using our other senses, especially with photographs, are still not common. Also, whilst the voices of ordinary people are now heard in museums, these are still often shaped by institutions. Both Sensory Labels and Museum in a Box give people the freedom to express things in their own way. Using low cost systems, they place the power of object interpretation outside of the museum. However, these systems are flexible and can also used within museums. I look forward to seeing how these projects develop in the future!
We have been given a small grant by the University of Reading Arts Committee to create one of our ideas of an interactive farm animal generated by our work with Reading College Learners with learning difficulties and disabilities dept at MERL in 2014.
Buckets Baskets And Boots Flyer
The proposal builds on Sensory Objects research to create an interactive farm animal experience ready for the opening of MERL in late 2016. The interactive experience (in the form of a full size interactive farm animal) will be created through a series of workshops at MERL run by Sensory Objects during 2016 in collaboration with students and Sensory Objects Co-reseaerchers. The workshops will explore the life of farm animals through all the senses employing stories, sound effects, and tactile materials to develop an interactive cow. The exhibit will encourage an inclusive accessible experience for visitors to MERL.
We propose to modify a cow bought from Jolly Roger model company by installing technology, which allows interaction for the visitor.
Some of our ideas for interaction include:
Stroking the cow will trigger sounds, smells and provide a tactile experience.
A recording mechanism in the animal’s ear so that when the audience squeezes the ear they will be able to leave a recording of their version of the animals sound.
Recorded sounds could be randomize and include audience created animal noises of moos etc and pre-recorded sounds.
Patting the back of the cow will trigger its tail to swish and activate a smell of Farmyard/Manure.
We featured in an article by French journalist Clara Crochet-Damais which documented the award ceremony in Paris where we were awarded the International Access for All Design Trophy 2015 on the website FranceTVinfo
FranceTVinfoPage report on Design for All Foundation Award
Summer 2015 Zena Hussein an Intern from UEL worked on data analysis from the Sensory Objects Project. Karl and Barbara Baeck from a tempo, a support network for people with disabilities to access employment, in Graz Austria, Karl and Barbara were funded by the European Union to study the Sensory Objects project. They intend to translate the Sensory Expeditions Activity book into German. The picture below shows Karl with Marc on an earlier visit to the project.
Karl with Marc from ‘atempo’ Graz.
Sensory Objects were invited by Becki Morris to contribute to a new webpage Disability Cooperative Network the aim of the network is to share knowledge to break down barriers for disability in the cultural sector
Our Co-researchers from Tower Project ‘Sensory Labels of the Enlightenment Gallery’ was such a hit earlier in the year we were invited back by The British Museum as a half term activity. The museum was packed with visitors, Tower Project did an excellent job engaging old and young with their work and we had a brilliant response from the public. Below are some pictures from the day.
Group around table
Listening to Judiths box
Justin in group
Kelly demos her label
Sam demos Label
smelling Justin’s label
We also showed off our Design for All Foundation Award Trophy and Certificate that were were awarded at a ceremony in Paris in Jan 2015 for our Co-researchers from Tower Project Sensory Labels at The British Museum. It was the first time all the group had seen the Trophy and Certificate. Below are the Tower Project with their Sensory Labels, Trophy and Certificate in The British Museums Great Court.
Tower with Trophy and Cert
The images below show closeups of the Design for All Foundation Award Trophy and Certificate 2015.
On Wed 29th April Sensory Objects co-researchers from Tower Project presented a well attended master class and demo during the Museum and Heritage show at Olympia London. UEL had a stand where we displayed some of our Sensory Objects including some made by our co-researchers from Reading College Learners with Learning Difficulties/Disabilities dept at the Museum of English Rural Life including our yellow jiggling and grunting pig.
John with Rachel’s yellow pig
The pig was very effective at catching peoples attention during the show, we also showed the sheep cushion that goes ‘baa’ when stroked.
During the talk co-researchers from the Tower Project Judith Appiah and Tim Elson showed the audience their Sensory Labels for the Enlightenment Museum at The British Museum.
Tim showing his sensory label
Tim and Judith described the workshop process and how they developed sensory information and shared their work with the public at the British Museum. Throughout the day many people came over to the stand to discuss ideas about how to make museums more sensory and inclusive.
Sensory Objects at Museums & Heritage Show
We also took some photos of Tim, Judith and Kate with our recently awarded International Design For All Trophy 2015. We return for another Sensory Labels showcase in the Enlightenment Gallery at the British Museum on Thursday 28th May 2015.
Sensory Objects co-researchers from The Tower Project created a set of 12 labels you could look at touch, listen to and smell based on objects in the Enlightenment Gallery . These Sensory Labels were then enthusiastically and confidently presented to the public by our co-researchers during 2015. Each Sensory Label was created as an alternative piece of interpretation for an object chosen by our co-researchers thinking about sensory information.
This work was awarded the Design For All Foundation Award Trophy in 2015
The picture below shows the 12 Sensory Objects Co-researchers from the Tower Project and supporters during one of the sessions.
Group shot of Sensory Object Researchers
The response was fantastic with many positive reactions expressed to us, collected on feedback forms, recordings, written on twitter. We were invited to present the Sensory Labels during half term.
The picture below shows Sam showing Chalkwell School the Sensory Labels.
Lots of Tweets document the day
During the day colleagues from RIX research created a live wiki page and filmed to make us a video of the event and seminar. The picture below shows Andy and Sam updating the Wiki.
Andy and Sam wiki and shells
The picture below shows a screen grab of Kelly and Adalana’s wiki diary entries for the Showcase you can read more diaries and our co researchers thoughts on our co-researchers wiki
Kelly’s Diary of the showcse day
Adalana diary of Showcase Day
Many of Orson Nava’s great photos captured the day for us, the picture below shows Adalana showing her Sensory Label to a museum visitor, he was smelling a lovely perfume, listening to the sound of crystals and diamonds. Adalana discovered that the diamond she had chosen had been removed from the Enlightenment Collection but her Sensory Label gave people an idea of the missing diamond.
Adalana shows her Sensory Label to visitor
The picture below show the texture of Ashley’s label being felt. Ashley chose a stuffed Golden Pheasent as his object. He had sounds of the bird call which were very effective and loud, his smell was oranges.
Ashley shows Kassie his Sensory Label
The Sensory Labels were enjoyed by all ages, the picture below shows shows Sam demonstrating her Sensory Label of a shell that reminded Sam of her mum living by the sea.
Sam demos sensory labels
Picture below shows feeling the texture of Sam’s Sensory Label, the smell was a smell of seaside.
Sam demos sensory Label
Picture below shows Judith with school group trying her Sensory Label of a leather African slipper. Sounds are triggered by bending a leather slipper she had made with a bend sensor embedded in the sole. The smell of the Sensory Label was leather.
Judith shows school group
The picture below shows listening to Kelly’s Sensory Label telling the story of the statue of Paris. There were sounds of fighting, rain and the smell was aftershave.
More listening to Kellys box
The two pictures below shows visitors with Ryan and his Sensory Label about two Chinese plates that reminded him of his nan. The box smell was roses and the sounds were smashing plates and Chinese opera.
Ryan demos sensory labels
Listening to Ryans Sesnory Label
Pictures below show Tim demonstrating his Sensory Label based on a miniature Egyptian Mummy. Tim’s label has sounds of Egyptian music, camels and the safety instructions given by air stewards at the start of a flight. Tim had drawn a plane for his label as it reminded him of going to visit Egypt on a plane. Tim’s box smell was Egyptian perfume.
Tim showing his sensory label
Listening Tim’s Sensory Label
The picture below shows Michael showing his Sensory Label based on a large bowl that he researched an found out it was a wine cooler. Michel imagined eating Chicken and Chips in this giant bowl. His label smell was Vinegar and the sounds were of eating, slurping, frying and cereal being poured into a bowl.
Michael demos his sensory label
The picture below shows a visitor smelling the smell of beer and cheese and onion crisps, as Justin described it the “smell of success” in his Sensory Label. The picture below also shows the Warwick Vase, Justin’s chosen object, which reminded him of the FA cup and his love of Liverpool Football team. The sound for his label was a montage of football commentaries about Liverpool.
Justin’s Sensory Label
The picture below shows Justin’s Sensory Label proving a hit with a visitor.
Justins box a Hit
The picture below shows a visitor listening to another football fan, Julie chose a Heron from the collection because it reminded her of the Tottenham Hotspur Football cockerel logo. The sound track included the sound of a Blue Heron fishing in a lake, Julie making a tweet sound and singing with the Tottenham Hotspur team song. Julie’s Sensory Label smell was fish! which was a bit of a surprise for many.
Julie and her Sensory Label
The picture below shows a visitor smelling the sea in Adjoa’s Sensory Label. Adjoa chose a coral because she likes the sea. The sounds Adjoa chose were the sea and Handel’s Water Music.
Smelling Adojas Label
The pictures below show Katy’s sensory label, Katy’s object was a snake. Katy wanted her label to have a snake being charmed out of it’s basket, the sound is snake charming music and she wanted the smell of grass. The label has a light sensor embedded so when you open the lid the light triggers the snake to move slowly up. The light levels in the Enlightenment Gallery proved just too low for the sensor to work so we used a torch, which proved to create great engagement for the visitor.
Katy and her Sensory Label
Katy and Mark charm the snake
A charming the snake
Katy’s snake being charmed with light from a torch
The picture below shows the phone sound box containing all 12 co-researcher sounds, the smell is Cadbury’s Chocolate the smell chosen to celebrate Sir Hans Sloane and his addition of milk to Drinking Chocolate.
The collected sounds phone box
Matt and Andy try phone box
Listening to sounds on phone
The picture below shows Julie and Michael discussing their labels with Jane Samuels at the time the The British Museums Access and Equality Manager.
In the writing of Walter Benjamin, we find the concept of the ‘aura’, a special distancing or abstraction certain objects have. He describes it as ”the unique phenomenon of a distance, however close it may be”, going on to explain ”If, while resting on a summer afternoon, you follow with your eyes a mountain range on the horizon or a branch which casts its shadow over you, you experience the aura of those mountains, of that branch.” It is a remoteness, an eery foreignness. Benjamin was, of course, dealing with the photograph; pictures may also have a punctic effect, to use Barthes‘ term, wounding the viewer in a way he cannot quite articulate. That which is special to some appears ordinary to others, and thus to some have an aura.
It is this disconnect in perception that interests us. For a person with learning difficulties, an object may have a value or significance others cannot fathom. The person cannot say why the object is significant, and this causes a difference in perception we might call a type of aura. The person to whom the object is significant may see the tree, yet can only tell others of the shadow. It is through these objects, whose significance may be hidden from us, that we are left to reconstruct the discourse of learning disability history. Inasmuch as it is, in part, shrouded from us because it cannot be articulated as it usually would be, it is an auric discourse. We who observe from without are distanced from it, yet are fascinated to explore this mysterious terrain.
In effect these objects have a contingent: an extra specialness or relevance that the owner cannot articulate. This may explain their fixation. This is not a fetishisation in the usual sense, where an object or detail is fixated upon for unconscious reasons which go beyond articulation and can only be explored through psychoanalysis; the persons inability to explain his or her attraction is due to other factors, yet the result is exactly the same. In both cases, the reasons behind the attraction cannot be rendered in the symbolic.
You can read more of Matts writing on his blog HERE. The picture below shows Matt experiencing Sam’s Sensory Label during the Sensory Objects Showcase at The British Museum.
Members of the Sensory Objects research projectinvite you to try out their newly developed interactive Sensory Labels of selected objects in the Enlightenment Gallery at The British Museum on Wednesday 11th February in The Enlightenment Gallery 11am – 3pm.
These Sensory Labels have been co-developed by people with learning difficulties and disabilities from the Tower Project London, working as co-researchers; they form part of an interdisciplinary team from The University of Reading and RIX Research and Media at the University of East London.
The Sensory Objects project creates multisensory interactive artworks that respond to museum collections and generate alternative ideas for museum interpretation. The image below is a poster containing this text, advertising the event.
POSTER TOWER PROJECT SHOWCASE EVENT
The image below is the easy read programme for the Showcase Event Day.
The Sandpit day was organised to combine showcasing of work with and by people with Learning Disabilities with interactive demonstrations and activities designed to get discussion and debate going about what a Living Archive of Learning Disability History should be like. Find out more about the research project here
Sam sounds from her Sensory Label
Feeling Tims Sensory Label image of plane
Sensory Objects Co-researchers from the Tower Project were invited to host a Sensory Objects room. Judith, Sam and Tim represented the Tower project demonstrating sensory objects from the 3 years of the Sensory Objects project, including their newly developed Sensory Labels. Katy’s Sensory Label was also shown. Our Co-researchers also demoed littlebits used in workshops to understand triggers.
Tim explains littlebits
Sniffing Katy’s snake in grass box
Sam and her box
Sensory Objects Sandpit with Harry
From the Sandpit day we learnt about the importance of creating an archive of Learning Disability History. Of importance to the Sensory Objects project was the desire by people in discussion that the physical quality of the Living Archive needs to be preserved. People were keen that the archive took various forms so that it would be accessible for everyone, from a digital archive to some kind of physical sensory archive.
Here is the easy read programme for session ten at The British Museum.
Tower Project TEN Easy Read Programme
We tried out the Audio Tour of the Enlightenment Gallery at the British Museum. We did this research in response to some of our co-researchers idea to create an audio guide for the objects they had chosen. Below are images of the group using the Audio Tour.
Using Audio Guides
Listening to the Audio Tour
Our 12 objects chosen by our co-researchers were different from the 10 on the Audio Guide.
Using Audio Tour of Enlightenment Gallery
Our Co-researchers will reflect on their experiences in our next session. After lunch our co-researchers were given a sheet with images of the artwork they have made in response to their chosen objects. They had to recognise who’s work it was, what object is represented and draw a guide to where it could be found on a plan of the Enlightenment Gallery. Below in an image of the sheet.
Everyones Object in Enlightenment Gallery
The picture below shows Adalana, Justin, Michael and Tim working with the sheet and Judith showing off her completed sheet. The sheet was to help our co-researchers think about how we will guide the public to their sensory labels on our event day. Sam had mentioned she enjoyed trails and guides, often designed for children to discover museums, Sam said that people with learning difficulties would also enjoy this format if it was designed for adults.
Sensory Labels Hunt
Picture below shows some of the Sensory Objects research team waving in the Enlightenment Gallery, our group waving makes a good composition with the statue behind. Thanks to Adam photographer from the Tower Project for the picture.
Sensory Objects research team wave at British Museum
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.
We put Rumena’s chicken in the hallway so that as people walked past it activated the sensor and drew people into the room. We learned afterward that they were having a meeting in main theatre down the hall and they could hear the chicken and an occasional pig and cow throughout meeting, but they said they didn’t mind, it livened up the meeting. The showcase gave us a great opportunity to share our research with others from museums. One delegate tweeted about Rumena’s Chicken see picture below.
SIGACCESS promotes the professional interests of computing personnel with disabilities and the application of computing and information technology in solving relevant disability problems. It also strives to educate the public to support careers for people with disabilities. The newsletter is read by many people including those interested in the design, development, evaluation, and scientific investigations of technologies to support individuals with disabilities. This includes:
Clinicians and teachers charged with assessing disabilities
Rehabilitation personnel who administer assistive technologies
Policy makers concerned with equitable access to information technologies for people with disabilities
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 were invited to the National co-ordinating centre for public engagement (NCCPE) Engage Competition award ceremony at the Natural History Museum London.
Only three people per project were allowed to go, otherwise we would have invited more of our research group to come along! The picture below shows Nic, Kate and Ajay by a banner showing our co-researchers in Liverpool.
At Award Ceremony
At the ceremony we watched videos from all the finalists projects in the final including Sensory Objects. You can watch the videos here
Sensory Objects were runners up in the Art Design and Culture Award. We were really pleased to be included amongst such great projects. The picture below shows our page in the finalist booklet and a crystal paper weight awarded to all finalists.
Sensory Objects Runnerup Page
After the ceremony we were given afternoon tea see picture below, which we enjoyed very much!
After the ceremony we were invited to take part in Universities Week Late at the Natural History Museum part of Universities Week, an action-packed evening to explore how research impacts everyday lives. We took part in the Researchers Cafe we had a menu of questions about our research that the public could talk to us about.
These were our questions: How important is it to be able to experience more than our sense of sight in museums? Which senses trigger your emotions most? How do multisensory experiences improve museum experiences?
We made sure we took some props including Sians Moot and littleBits go LARGE to help our discussion. The picture below shows Nic and Ajay ready at the table.
Nic and Ajay ready to discuss at the Researchers Cafe
On Monday June 9th we held our event Buckets, Baskets and Boots at MERL, it was very successful everyone enjoyed the chance to meet our co-researchers find out what they had been researching and try their sensory objects.
Sensory Object Researchers at MERL event
The picture below shows Rachel and Sian helping to demonstrate Guillermo’s bucket, it made different farm animal sounds when you dipped your hand in and out some people loved it some found it too LOUD.
Demo of Guillermo’s Bucket
The picture below shows Rachel demonstrating her pig it grunts when you squeeze its nose and ears.
It was a lovely sunny day at MERL some visitors took the sensory objects outside to try the picture below shows a visitor from Reading College pressing the tractor on Skye’s bucket which played the sound of co-researchers singing Old MacDonald.
Pressing Tractor on Skyes Bucket
Rachel McGowan wasn’t able to come to the Monday event but many people enjoyed her jiggling pig.
Sunglasses and Rachel’s Yellow pig
John, Philip, Ticky, June and Gerry came from Liverpool Mencap Access to Heritage Group for the event and tried all the objects, the yellow pig see pic below made John laugh!
John with Rachel’s yellow pig
The picture below shows Ticky and Philip tryout Lukes bucket, when you drop an egg down the hole it Luke’s voice is triggered saying things like “Hole in One”, “Wheeeeee!” and “Quack”
Ticky and Philip try Luke’s Bucket
Our co-researchers used their Wiki webpages to tell people about their research.
Co-researchers Wikis on smart board
Skye with iPad showing her Wiki
Our co-researchers Rachel and Rumena made smoothies with Robyn that were delicious and made the place smell good too. The pictures below show Robyn and Rachel and Rachel making a smoothie for Gosia.
Our co-researchers and summer students Mia and Kassie helped everyone tryout littleBits
Sound boxes were demonstrated by our Co-researchers
and also discover our Wellie boot herb garden.
The day was well attended including many from Reading College, Mencap Reading and Liverpool Access to Heritage Group.
Finally the picture below shows a tweet comment about the event!
We had busy day at Reading College, Gosia and Ajay from the Rix Centre showed our Co-researchers videos compiled from their favourite photos chosen at the last session, the pictures are set to a piece of their favourite music. The video below shows clips of the group watching their videos.
Next Nic showed Rachel and Rumena their updated art works, that now had motors in to make them move.
Rachel’s Yellow Pig
First Rachel McGowan’s yellow pig, Rachel wanted it to move in the bucket and make the sound of a pig. Skye, and Sian helped Rachel to try it out.
Then we tried out the mechanism for Rumena’s chicken in a basket, when we discussed what the chicken would do Rumena did the Makaton sign, or what we recognised as the funky chicken dance! So her chicken need wings that flapped.
Rumena’s Chicken and Egg
Rumena made her chicken using a wooden spoon for its head, this made using a pair of marigold gloves to make wings the obvious choice and gives Rumena’s chicken a very unique look, everyone in the group enjoyed it. The the battery to power the motor is in the big egg on the side. Both Rachel and Rumena’s motors and sounds are triggered by a movement sensor. You can find out more about all the workings for our objects on our other webpage ExtraSensoryObjects
After lunch Robyn arrived and asked our Co-researchers to make labels for our Wellie Boot Herb Garden.
Wellie Boot Herb Garden
Robyn brought clippings from the planted herbs to college so our co-researchers could smell them, name them and draw them to make labels identifying each herb boot.
Robyn with herbs
The picture below show some of the labels being made.
Labelling Herbs for Wellie Boot Herb Garden
We had another go with the Hoofy Horse, it now has four legs and needs two people one for the front and one for the back. The video below shows Rachel, Guillermo and Sian having a go Rumena is also making it ‘clip clop’ .
Finally we had a go at singing and recording Old MacDonald, the recording was to create a sound for Skye’s farm bucket, when the tractor is pressed it triggers Old Mac Donald Skye wanted lots of animal sounds in her bucket. The video below shows clips of our singing with some Makaton signing too.
During our session we continued to test and finish our sensory objects.The video below shows Rachel testing her Pink Pig in a Bucket.
Robyn helped our Co-researchers create different smoothie recipes and we all taste tested them, some of them used herbs planted and grown in boots by our Co-researchers. At our event Buckets, Baskets and Boots on June 9th at MERL our Co-researchers will be making the following smoothies for visitors to try:
(strawberry garnish on rim of glass)
ICED APPLE AND MINT TEA
Fresh apple juice
Fresh mint from our wellie garden
(sprig of mint to garnish)
Freshly squeezed orange juice
(orange slice garnish on rim of glass)
Freshly squeezed orange juice
(orange slice garnish on rim of glass)
After a lovely farmers lunch provided by Robyn eaten outside in the sun we tried out another sensory object called Hoofy Horse, this was inspired by Rachels picture with the invisible horse in MERLS collection.
Rachel as horse with invisible horse
We had made the sound of horses hooves using coconut shells so we decided to use some pressure sensors to make a clip clop sound, testing of this is shown in the video below.
We also looked at some images of our Co-researchers meeting a rabbit during one of their lessons at Reading College they are planning to visit a pet shop to learn all about domestic pets. The picture below shows the rabbit with Skye and Guillermo.
We showed some videos of our research at MERL with our Co-researchers from Reading College LLD/D. The picture below shows Toby Butler who runs the MA from UEL holding Sian’s Moot, Ajay is demoing our sound box and Co-researcher Skye and lecturer Cathy from Reading College appear in the video.
Toby and Ajay with Skye and Cathy in the video
We also took Lukes ‘blue flag’ bucket. We told lots of people about our research and our events in June. The picture below shows Toby talking to Carolyn from GEM
Today’s workshop was primarily a reflective session, looking back on what has been accomplished in the previous workshops. At the beginning of the workshop, before the group arrived, the tables were filled with buckets, boots and baskets to show some of the work that had been created to date:
Buckets, Boots and Baskets – some of the finished works, and some works-in-progress
Some of the objects are not yet completed, and part of today’s session was used to help in choosing how to complete these works-in-progress. We’ll continue next Monday with these too. As you can see, the herbs that the group planted in the boots some months ago have grown significantly, and were carefully tended to by Robyn (not all are present here).
The workshop session was divided into two activities (divised by Gosia): a review and a photography session. For the review activity, each co-researcher was initially provided with a small collection of images that related to their work (things they liked, or have worked on, and included many images of themselves in the workshop sessions), so that they could begin by looking back at some of the things they had done in past workshops:
Each co-researcher had a collection of images to remind them of their previous workshops
The co-researchers started out by selecting some of the their favourite pictures and videos from the project blog and from the wiki that they had co-constucted:
Looking at the blog
We wanted them to choose pictures or videos (or just sounds) that were meaningful in some way. This was quite difficult to do, and we worked one-to-one with the co-researchers. Selecting images and videos that are appealing is straightforward, but giving a reason why is often very difficult or not possible. However, it is perhaps more important that they were engaged in the task and looking at what they had done, regardless of the outcome.
The second part of the workshop was a photography session in which the co-researchers created photographs of themselves (taken by one of the other group members or support staff), a picture of themselves with the object that they had co-designed, some video of themselves with their object and also something in the museum which related to their object. The images and video can be uploaded to their personal wiki page (Klikin) in a later workshop.
Luke demonstrated his ‘hole-in-one’ bucket (missing the flag in this image):
Luke’s ‘hole-in-one’ bucket (missing the flag)
Skye demonstrated her animal farm bucket. It plays farm animal sounds randomly, and when completed it will also respond to the grass being pressed, where it will play a recording of ‘old macdonald’.
Skye with her animal farm
Rachel’s pig-in-a-bucket responds by grunting when the ears are being squeezed – the next addition is to add the pig’s nose (which has been difficult to create!) so that it will also respond to the nose being pressed.
Rachel’s pig in a bucket
Sian took pictures of her mooing boot (the ‘Moot’) at different locations within MERL and then gave a demonstration of how it works:
Sian’s mooing boot (the ‘Moot’)
Some of the sensory object works-in-progress were not available to demonstrate, so the other co-researchers’ took photographs of some of the other artworks they had created at the workshops, placing them in locations around MERL, and also took pictures of thing they liked at MERL. The following is a selection of some of them (there were hundreds of images, totalling over 1GB, so we can only select a few):
Skye with her animal
Photograph by Rachel
Rachel’s pig-in-a-bucket somewhere in MERL
Guillermo as a farm worker
Guillermo placing some of the objects in MERL for photographing
Luke examines the flowers outside of MERL
Rachael with her yellow pig
Towards the end of the workshop, we had a music session starting with Old Macdonald. We played a video which had the soundtrack of Old Macdonald plus Makaton signs which many of the group could understand:
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.
We are working towards two events in June part of Universities Week on Monday 9th our Co-researchers from Reading College LLD/D dept will present our research in the Museum of English Rural Life (MERL). Below is the poster for the event, hope you can come!
The main focus of our workshop was for our co-researchers to try out some of the Sensory Objects in development. Sian’s mooing boot was first, the group enjoyed stroking it, sometimes if fell over which surprised people, but the boot has been rebuilt by Nic with it’s electronics inside, to be pretty robust. We did wonder if we need to weight it down in someway, although some co-researchers would like to pick it up and stroke it others wanted to just pat it, which could make it topple over.
Sian with a pair of mooing boots
Sian was clear that she preferred hearing her own mooing rather than having sounds of real cows, so we recorded her mooing and will change the sound track. She also painted another version of Old MacDonald for the New Boot.
Luke tests his bucket
Luke’s ‘Hole in one’ bucket was next, Nic tested out flag poles that would alter the sound track when the egg/ball went down the hole. Luke definitely preferred it when he heard his own voice. We discovered the hole to put the pole in was had to find and that wooden poles were easy to break so Nic suggested aluminium poles. We recorded Luke speaking some more to add to the recording.
Then we tested out Skye’s Farm in a bucket, Skye had asked for the sound to be on constantly so the sounds of the farm were fitted with a timer.
But the group had become used to touching to trigger sounds from their previous experience with the boot. We wondered if we should add a touch sensor too?
We also tested the sensors for Rachel’s pig it still needs a bit of work we demoed it with NIc making the sounds as the sensors are not quite ready yet. Rachel also made a fantastic drawing of animals
We also made smoothies which we had after another delicious lunch with freshly churned butter supplied by Robyn. We drew on and planted out some more Wellie boots with plants that smell good. Rachel and Guillermo concentrated really hard on this task and collected some stones from MERL’s garden for drainage.
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
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 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.