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.
Last night Madhouse My House? opened at Hackney Museum. Co-researchers from Access All Areas presented their research and the ideas that Sensory Objects have developed with them to create a sensory interactive exhibition.
The group explained their ideas for the exhibition and told the story of Mabel Cooper and Harvey Waterman who has just celebrated his 80th birthday remembered what it was like to be in St Lawrence’s Hospital.
The exhibition is just the start of a series of events that will tell the story of the institutionalisation of people with learning disabilities.
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!
Ajay Choksi Wiki Master from RIX research and media and Kate presented a Sensory Objects poster at Engage 2015-Engaging with Impact in Bristol at the Royal Marriott Hotel We also introduced ArtLab which is a project that has grown out of the Sensory Objects Research. ArtLab promotes Widening Participation and Research projects at the University of Reading. The text below is from the Engage Programme about the poster party event.
“Engage enthusiasts will be pleased to know we are hosting the fabulous Poster Party with over 30 people and teams keen to share their work with great ideas for developing more effective engagement, celebrate and network in style with nibbles and drinks – encouraging constructive and inspiring conversations from across the world.” The picture below shows the poster with Adalana showing her Sensory Label at the British Musuem, we also demonstrated some of the Sensory Labels, this was before they turned on the party lights!
Poster Party Presentation
There were lots of people Ajay did a great job explaining about the project, demoing the Sensory Labels and showing the project Wikis. The pictures below show Ajay at work talking about Sensory Objects during the ENGAGE 2015 Poster Party, with some pink/purple lighting.
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.
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.
The Sensory Objects project was represented by co-researchers Judith Appiah and Tim Elson supported by Beverley Agard from the Tower Project, who co-presented with Nic and Kate at ENGAGE 2014 conference in Bristol. The picture below shows Judith and Tim preparing for the presentation with Beverley on the train to Bristol.
Preparatory Work on Train
We arrived just at the Bristol Marriot Royal Hotel just in time for lunch where we met up with Nic. The picture below shows all at lunch.
Lunch at conference
Our presentation was at 2pm we presented work from the three years of the project then had a hands-on workshop. The picture below shows Tim and Judith presenting.
Tim and Judith Present
We showed some of the work from MERL, Sian’s mooing boot and Rumena’s Chicken. Judith explained about her chosen object, a pair of leather slippers, African treasure and how she has made her sensory label. As we were presenting our audience were tweeting so some of the the images below show the tweeted response from the audience.
How Judith developed her sensory label
Judith invited people to try her sensory label.
Judith sensory label
Next Tim spoke about the development of his Sensory Label. He showed a slide of the miniature sarcophagus in the Enlightenment Gallery and explained using his wiki his research of the object and how he had drawn an aeroplane because it reminded him of flying to Eygpt.
Tweet of Tims presentation
Tweet of Tims plane
Tim invited the audience to try out his sensory label the picture below shows the audience tweet.
Tweet of Tim’s Box
We told the audience about some of the other ideas for Sensory Labels including Justin’s ideas for the Warwick Vase reminding him of the FA cup and that he wants the smell of his box to be the smell of Cheese and Onion crisps and Beer as he thinks of this as the smell of success! This made people laugh and a response on Twitter, where some people liked the idea of the smell one did not. The picture below shows the discussion.
Cheese and Onion Crisps and Beer
Then we moved on to the hands on workshop part of the presentation we invited the audience to tryout some of the tools we have used in our workshops to help understand triggers, controlling sounds with sensors. We demonstrated Squishy Circuits, littleBits, sound boxes and littleBits go Large.
LittleBits go LARGE demo
The picture below shows a tweet during the demos of little bits go LARGE.
Tweet Enjoying handson workshop
Tim and Judith sat at a table each and demonstrated how little bits and little bits go LARGE work while Nic explained more about the research ideas behind the workshop. The pictures below show everyone during the hands on workshop.
Workshop with bits
TIm during littleBits workhsop
TIm demos littleBits
Judith and Nic demo little Bits go LARGE
After the workshop we went listen to a presentation by Mohit Bakaya a commissioning editor for BBC Radio 4. He spoke about the need to widen the types of people presenting programmes to widen the audience who listen to Radio 4. We wondered if he would commission Sensory Object to make a programme?
Listening to Mohit Bakaya from Radio 4
Listening at the Conference
We found the conference a really valuable experience, we learnt a lot and found the audience in our presentation were really ‘engaged’ asking lots of interesting questions and were keen to find out more about the Sensory Objects project, discuss new ideas and opportunities. The picture below shows Tim, Judith and Bev about to leave the conference hotel.
The picture below shows the easy read programme for session fourteen.
Tower Project FOURTEEN
First we looked at Tower Project Wikis. Our co-researchers have been busy researching information about their object in the Enlightenment Gallery at The British Musuem. The picture below shows the group looking at their Wiki.
Group look at wiki research pages
Each co-researcher had prepared something to say about their object ready to record for the soundtrack of their sensory label.
Tims wiki text to record
The picture below shows recording each co-researcher.
Recording info about objects
The picture below shows Nic demonstrating the latest version of the sensory label. This one had an engraved image of Sam on it.
Nic shows latest version of sensory labels
The picture below shows Sam feeling her engraved wood drawing with her eyes closed.
The picture below shows everyone looking at the smell container inside the label box.
Group discussing boxes
The picture below shows Sam with the seaweed Noelle brought in from Brighten. Everyone smelt the seaweed it smelt very strong!
Sam with Seaweed
Some of the group still needed to decide how their sounds would be triggered. The picture below shows Adalana trying out different switches to trigger her sound. We are also looking for some more sounds for Adalana as the Music Box sound we have sounded too much like an Ice Cream Van!
Adalana Sensory Postcard
Kelly and Judith are shown in the picture below researching triggers with littleBits.
Below is the easy read programme for session thirteen.
TOWER PROJECT 13
We had a catch up meeting. We heard about the Tower Project creating and being on a float of the Lord Mayors Show, the picture below shows the group looking at BBC video footage of the event.
Group watch video of the Lord Mayors Show
Then we discussed our our co-presentation at the Diversity in Heritage Meeting where Judith and Tim co-presented our research with Nic and Kate. The picture below shows the group looking at a Mercury Bulb on display in the Cinema Museum.
Talking about Cinema Museum
Then we looked at the co-researchers Wikis they had been very busy researching their chosen objects at the Enlightenment Gallery and adding to their Wiki in the Research Section. The pictures below shows some images of the Wiki research pages, Michael researched about the bowl he chose which he found it very difficult to find any information about. He imagined eating chicken and chips in the bowl. Julies research explained that she chose a stuffed Heron from the collection as it reminded her of the symbol for Tottenham Hotspur! The picture below shows Julies football shirt.
Why Julie chose a Heron
Then we discussed developing the sensory labels further feeling the wood panels in the picture below.
feeling surface of sensory labels
Tim demoed his box the sound was triggered by tilting the box or by a touch sensor.
Tim demos his box
We discussed how everyone would like to trigger sounds. The picture below show Adjoa exploring how to trigger sound.
Hearing sound from the box
Adjoa tests box
We also tried out some other smells
More smells to test
Nic and Kassie worked with Tim, Michael, Sam and Katy to research various types of triggers the pictures below show Tim and Michael at work and a close up of a set of triggers Nic had made to help discover and chose how things should trigger.
We co-presented our research with Judith and Tim representing the Tower Project with their support worker Bev, Kate and Nic also presented and Kassie filmed and helped with the hands on workshop part of the session. The picture below shows Tim and Judith preparing for the meeting with Bev and Kassie.
Judith and Tim prepare
The pictures below show members of the Diversity in Heritage Meeting and Poppy who was leading the meeting.
Poppy and members of the H&D group
Members of the Heritage and Diversity Group
Before the meeting we were given a tour of the Cinema Museum the picture below shows members of the meeting during the tour.
Tour Cinema Museum
During Guided Tour of the Cinema Museum
The picture below shows members of the sensory objects team presenting our research.
Presentation by Sensory Objects
The video below has some edited highlights from our presentation
First we had a discussion about ideas for our event bringing sensory labels to the Enlightenment Gallery, we asked the group for their thoughts. There were many ideas including creating an audio guide of sensory soundscapes to link to chosen objects suggested by Judith and having a living statue which was Kelly’s idea when asked what conversation she would have with the statue she had chosen she said “somebody get me out of this museum I’ve been stuck in here for years!”. Sam wanted to create some kind of game where the goal is to discover the sensory labels in the gallery rather than have a guide map, she mentioned that there is often something like this for children but that people with learning disabilities would enjoy this too. Tim suggested we should have flags of the countries where the objects we have chosen come from to direct people to our sensory lables. Kate took notes of all the ideas and we will work on them over the next few weeks.
Discussion about sensory labels
Nic gave a demo of triggers, he explained that a sound or movement on our sensory labels, currently triggered by a black button, could be triggered by stroking, he used Sian from Reading College’s Moot Boot to demonstrate the idea. The picture below shows Ryan stroking the Moot it moos when the fake fur cow hide is stroked. Nic also demoed Rachel’s pig which was triggered by a proximity sensor so when the person stood in front of it the sound and movement of the pig was triggered.
Stroking the Moot
Nic also wanted to see if anyone remembered how some of the sensors worked from last week. He showed Adalana as she missed the last session.
Nic demos Trigger
The picture below shows Adjoa and Ryan demoing creating sounds with the littleBits synth kit.
Trying out Syth Kit
Tim showed his Egyptian hieroglyph to the group. He had drawn a picture inspired by his object a small wooden Egyptian sarcophagus. He wanted to draw a modern object a plane in the style of Egyptian hieroglyphs, he also wrote his name. We then took a photo of his drawing and engraved the image in wood using a laser cutter. The drawing surface now embossed could be felt and it also had the smell of burnt wood.
Tim’s plane engraved
We then worked more creating textures and sounds for our sensory labels. Adoja showed how she had used air hardening clay to create a model of the coral she has chosen she also added in some beeswax because it reminded her of the surface texture of the coral.
Adjoa with her model of coral
Katy, Ashley, Kelly and Ryan all made models with air hardening clay.
We also began to find sounds to build soundscapes for each object we will continue with this next week.
Below is the easy read programme for session seven.
Tower project Workshop SEVEN programme
We split into two groups, group A was Investigating littleBits go LARGE the video below shows some short clips of the investigation as we tried to find out how easy it was to understand the pink output devices were and if we could add something visual to aid understanding. Our UROP (Undergraduate research opportunity placement) student Kassie introduced the session, the clip shows the group trying a light sensor.
Group B began to explore further the idea of a Sensory Label exploring textures, smells and sounds.
Sensory Labels Workshop
Sensory Labels Workshop2
Tim had a go at about making his own Hieroglyphic’s inspired by the Egyptian mummy he chose. We discussed how we could use the laser cutter at the University of Reading to engrave it into wood. The picture below shows Tim’s drawing of a plane and name done in the style of Hieroglyphs.
We met at the Rix Centre after a break over August. Our Co-researchers did some independent research visiting the London Transport Museum trying out our Sensory Activities book.
Discussing Transport Museum Visit
We started our session with hearing about the visit looking at the updates on the wiki webpage updated by our co-researchers. Our Co-researchers really enjoyed their visit, they noted down some general access issues, to do with ramps and size of lifts etc. We discussed the need to focus on the sensory nature of our project. The group had picked out things that they enjoyed, such as having ago with a ticket machine that actually produced an old bus ticket, some mentioned music playing by some of the exhibits, and a handle to crank to help understand how wheels work on a bus.
We discussed the sensory activities book focussing on the Sensory Expeditions cartoon page. We had 2 new names of the book suggested by our co-researchers ‘Recipe Book or Index. Some people found the image of the camera misleading as it looked like a radio, the big nose on the smell cartoon was mistaken as Pinocchio, they asked why the cartoon had no eyes? Someone asked why there was a mouse in the picture?
After lunch we didn’t follow our planned programme, we introduced the sound boxes
and started to learn about electronics and triggering information with Squishy Circuits, we asked the group to create a trigger for a light and a buzzer by creating a circuit and breaking the circuit.
Working with Squishys
We also started to think about how we could add some sensory information to the enlightenment gallery. Everyone was given a postcard that could record a sound. We asked our co-researchers to think about what sounds, stories, tactile materials, images or even smells we could use to enhance our experiences of the chosen object from the Enlightenment Gallery, the idea is to develop some kind of sensory label rather than a text label.
Working Sound Cards
The picture below shows posit notes with ideas from the co-researchers for sensory post cards.
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.
During this session the group discussed objects they had seen at the British Museum in the Enlightenment Gallery. Below is the programme for the day.
Tower Project Programme Session 4
Carly one of two PhD students contributing to the Sensory Objects Project led a session to reflect on the objects chosen from the Enlightenment Gallery. The picture below is an example of one of our Co-researchers Justin choosing his object in the Enlightenment Gallery, a silver replica of the Warwick Vase, he chose the vase because it reminded him of a football trophy, when asked to describe why he chose it he held the Warwick Vase above his head.
Justin and the Warwick Vase
One by one our co-researchers presented their chosen objects to the rest of the group and shared their thoughts on this object (why they liked it, what they imagined it would feel/smell like etc)….Our visitors from Austria shared their chosen objects they also presented some drawings and thoughts about the objects, this was their final session with the group.
Austrian visitors Present Ideas
Then Carly asked our co-researchers to imagine they had a piece of clay in their hands and ask them to sculpt their object out of this imaginary clay.
Carly demos invisible Clay
Some of the group said how much they disliked real clay because it was too messy, but imaginary clay was nice and clean.
Working with imaginary clay
The group were really good at remembering and imagining what size the object they had chosen was, what shape it was, if it was smooth/rough etc…
Passing invisible clay object
When their object was complete Carly asked us to imagine our object had become really heavy, and we had to hand it to the next person, then we imagined it being really light.
Making objects with imaginary clay
After lunch the group were asked to upload their pictures on to our wiki webpage and add thoughts about the objects they have chosen from the Enlightenment Gallery. Our Co-researchers were going to carry out some independent research during August using our Sensory Expedition book. We had a vote to decide which museum our group would visit, the group chose the Transport Museum and our co-researchers would add information about the visit to the Wiki ready for discussion on our next session on Sept 3rd.
Tower Project Sensory Object co-researchers visit The British Museum focussing on the the Enlightenment Gallery, we were joined by visitors to the Rix Centre from Austria.
TowerProject at The British Museum
Below is our programme plan for the day.
Tower Project session 3 The British Museum
Sam began our day with showing me a drawing she had made about the Sensory Objects project.
Samantha and her Sensory Project Pic
We were welcomed to the museum by their Access and Equality manager Jane Samuels.
Jane welcomes Group
Jane gave us an image of Sir Hans Sloane and asked our group to see if they could spot the painting as they entered Room 2.
Jane said that when we found the painting we would find Hilary Williams who would give us a talk about Sir Hans Sloane, his collection and the Enlightenment Gallery see picture below.
Group Listening to Hilary
Hilary asked our co-researchers how old is the Earth? See picture below.
Based on the Bible people used to think it was 400 years old but when people discovered fossils they realised it was millions of years old.
Hilary asks how old is the earth
Hilary explained that the Enlightenment Gallery contained collections of natural things like shells, animals, mineral rocks and fossils and things made by humans such as tools and artworks.
After lunch our co-researchers were asked to choose an object in the Enlightenment Gallery that they liked and would like more information about. We asked them to consider what sensory information their object had and if they would like more. How would if feel if you could touch it? smell if you could sniff it etc Below are some of their choices, Justin chose a replica of silver cup.
Justin with Cup
Adalana the replica of the Pitt Diamond.
Adalana and diamond
Close up of replica Pitt Diamond that Adalana chose.
Emen chose a carved foot in a sandel.
Emen draws sandle
Katy chose a snake, rat and mongoose.
Katy Snake Rat
Tim chose a miniature Egyptian mummy sarcophagus.
Tims objects collected
Ryan chose Chinese Plates.
Julie chose a stuffed heron which she made some notes about.
Julie draws a heron
Sam and Noelle talk about shell collection and how it reminded her of her mum who lived by the sea.
Sam and Noelle
Michael chose a big bowl
Michael and his bowl
Judith chose objects from Africa
Some of the group tried out the British Museum handling table, they enjoyed using the magnifying glass to view the objects.
Sam tries the handling table
Katy at handling table holding a flint.
Katy at Handling table
Our co-researchers collected thoughts and stories about the chosen object (see pictures below), ready to talk about their chosen object when we meet at the Rix Centre next week.
In our second session with our Co-researchers from the Tower Project we asked them to bring in an object that was special for them and they would be able to talk about why they brought it. Below is the easy read outline plan of the day.
Week 2 Tower Project Session
The theme of the day was to create a Pop Up Museum form objects everyone had been asked to bring in. Everyone had brought something they could talk about we made a video of each person with their object.
We wanted to think about objects people own that are special for them and how they transform when they become part of a museum collection.
Co-researchers with objects Emem photographs them
First we described the object we had brought in, what it meant to each person, and where we kept it, what it made us think of when we saw it. The picture below shows Justin with his trophy for Disco Dancing he won it when he was 3 years old. Next Katy with her musical globe of the Lion King bought for her by her sister who had seen the stage play and Marc a visitor from Austria who is with us for 3 weeks on a study placement he had bought some wafer biscuits that are typically Austrian as a gift for everyone at the Rix Centre.
Talking about the objects
Once we had videoed everyone talking about their object we took instant photos of the objects and created a label with images and some text. The picture below shows all the Co-researchers with the labels they had made.
Everyone at the Pop up Museum
Next we decided to make categories for our Pop Up Museum, we chose 7 which is the same number they have in the Enlightenment Museum. Our section names for the Pop Up Museum were 1 Toys and Games, 2 Food and Drink, 3 Family Histories, 4 Places, 5 Awards, 6 Events and 7 Curios. The image below shows the group at work displaying their objects in different sections, Noelle helps Michael display his football.
Noelle helps organise the Pop Up Museum Michael’s Football is displayed
Popup museum in the making
Exhibits in the Pop Up Museum, we had some glass display cases which we tried out each object inside some were too big, so we used the base. Putting the objects under glass made changed the object. The images below show exhibits in our museum in the first picture you can see Adalana she chose to display her white cane, Kell showed her Grandmothers wedding ring and Julie a Champagne glass she was given on her 30th birthday.
Adalana, Kelly and Julie pop up exhibits
The picture below shows items brought in by Tower Project support workers Debbie displayed old money, Minos a mosaic that reminded him of Greece and Farhat (sorry need to find out how to spell name) a watch that he was given for his 25th birthday the 3rd of his collection.
Support workers Pop up Exhibits
The picture below shows Samatha’s journal where she writes about all the work she does, next is Tim’s soldier at the Trooping of the Colour he has a big collection of them he spoke how putting the figure under the glass dome changed its scale and finally Emen’s medal he won for running, he has lots of medals for sport.
Popup museum Sam Tim and Emem
Below shows Ryans bus he used to travel on a Route Master, Adjoa’s teddy given to her by a friend at the airport, a collection of all our wrist watches from some of the group and the Austrian food, chocolate, biscuits and pumpkin oil.
The Tower Project Pop Up Museum
We photographed the Pop Up Museum see pictures below
We took lots of photos
Austrian food and drink exhibits with sensory information on the labels
Austrian treats exhibit Pop up museum
It was a really interesting day, hearing about everyones object and then seeing them displayed. We talked a bit about how our museum might have connections to the Enlightenment Gallery at the British Museum we are visiting next. See a picture of our discussion below we remembered Andy’s talk about Museums and Collections last week, where the fork came from, what is was used for originally, who bought it and how it ended up as an exhibit. We asked our co-researchers what was our research question was? They said how to make museums more accessible. We will explore adding sensory information to tell stories about objects from our Co-researchers perspective. Our group suggested using video, touch sounds, braille to help make museums more enjoyable to visit.
We held an introductory session with our new Co-Researchers from the Tower Project London at the Rix Centre who will be researching sensory objects for the British Museum. The picture below shows the easy read plan for the day.
Tower Project Session ONE
It was great to meet every one from the Tower Group see the picture below
Tower Group during first session
Andy used cartoons to help us think about objects, collecting and displaying the objects in museums see picture below
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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.
Andy and Ajay from the Rix Centre led a Multi Media Advocacy Session with our Co-Researchers at Reading College. They did some further work with students on their wikis, the idea was to see how we might be able to join up some of the work we have done about MERL with multi sensory workshops with the work that is part of the student curriculum on independent living, transition and developing participation in the community. We thought that we could draw from the existing array of photos that students have from MERL and see how we can talk and work on themes such as WORK, TRANSPORT, WHERE YOU LIVE and HOUSING, COOKING, DOMESTIC SKILLS etc. – using the MERL experience and sensory approaches as the starting point. The video below shows Sian with Andy’s help demonstrating to the group how to make pages for her wiki about Travel. Ajay took some video clips of Sian and Andy.
Our aim is to use the students’ wikis as a place where they can put together their thoughts and ideas. They may also use the Internet and Google Image search to connect the old with the new, bringing their insights and sensory understandings into their reflection about their own lives and their future goals and wishes.
Co-Researchers at Reading College
The picture below shows Andy and Sian working together on the interactive white board to create Sian’s wiki. The idea was to explore transport Sian had seen in MERL a tractor then discuss how Sian travels, she found a picture of a taxi and showed us her bus pass.
Sian and Andy talk TRANSPORT
Then all the Co-Researchers created pages about Transport using i Pads.
Racheal, Rachel, Guillermo and Skye using i pad to talk TRANSPORT
We held a session at Reading College using Talking Mats which is a way of finding out what our Co-researchers had experienced using their sense to discover MERL. The session was led by Gosia from the Rix Centre. The mat has images of the five senses and objects from the MERL collection. We asked our Co-researchers which sense they would most like to use to experience an object in the MERL collection.The pictures below shows the talking mat, it has images of the senses and objects from MERL, we asked the Co-researchers which sense they would most like to use to experience an object in the MERL collection.
Gosia with Sian and talking mats
Guillermo with Talking Mats 2
Skye talking mats results
The talking mats sessions were videoed and will help us work towards developing our sensory objects. While each person did Talking Mats with Gosia, we added more info to their individual wikis, we used iPads to do this. The picture below shoes Guillermo using an iPad
Guillermo using ipad to upload his webpage
Later we asked the group to make Old Mac Donald’s Farm from foil and drawing.
Group making old Macdonalds farm
The picture below shows Rachael and Guillermo drawing their farms.
Sian’s picture of Old MacDonald’s head, farm house and tractor
Sian Old Macdonald face house and tractor
Rachel drew some reindeer for her farm.
The picture below shows Rumenas farm she created some snails for her farm.
The picture below shows Luke and his drawing of a farm Luke mixed in some words about golf and made a golf club with the silver foil. I asked Luke if he had ever played crazy golf I wondered if we could link golf with farming as Luke is so keen on golf.
Our fifth workshop at Reading College was spread over two days the morning of Friday 8th and Monday 11th. On the Friday Gosia came and showed our Co-Researchers how to create their individual webpages unlike the group webpage which you can see here the individual webpages are private for each person to reflect on their experiences during the project. On Monday 11th Ajay and John came from the RIX to continue to add to the blogs. In the afternoon we created some collages and drawings.
Gosia explains the individual website on Friday morning
We continued to work on the website on Monday, the picture below shows Rachel drawing what she wants to say for her webpage picture of her holding a parsnip by a display about ploughing. Rachel drew a parsnip, tractor and a ploughed field, she drew an eye to say she had used the sense of sight. The image bottom left shows drawings and text by Rachel describing our lunch at MERL.
Rachel draws text she wanted under her chosen picture
The picture below shows both Rachel’s, Guillermo and Sian collaging. We asked our Co-Researchers to create collages that would tell a story based on our buckets, boots and baskets. We reminded the group about the nursery rhyme The old woman who lived in a shoe, we asked them what sort of story could be invented could someone live in a boot or a bucket, could sounds come from them, how could the basket, bucket and boot be transformed, give a sensory experience of MERL?
Luke made his collage and made sounds of the animals he made a very good chicken sound “BrkBrk” and started to sing Old MacDonald had a farm, Ajay recorded him singing and making animal sounds.
Skye also made some animal sounds but she also started singing the song Naughty Boy – La La La ft. Sam Smith.The rest of the group chose music too and it made us realise how important music was to our group, it has made us consider how we can incorporate music into our workshops more. The picture below shows Guillermo dancing and Rachel singing along to the Spice Girls.
Guillermo and Rachel listen to music
Guillermo drew a story where 3 pigs, Cathy and Guillermo’s family live in a bucket!
Our Co-Researchers from Reading College met at MERL for their 3rd workshop. MERL had just held its Apple Day celebration on Sat and we were given some apples to taste, they were very delicious. The picture below shows us tasting various types of English Apples. We were joined by John from the Rix Centre standing on the left, the brown bags contain the different varieties of apples.
Group taste apples from MERL Apple day
We continued to work with the sound boxes. We gave each Co-Researcher a soundbox and asked them to choose one favourite sound that they would like to hear in MERL, we asked them to lead us to an object in the collection that was linked to the sound. Luke and Guillermo choose the horse and cart sound the picture below shows Luke standing by a cart that matched his sound. Luke really enjoyed turning a fly wheel near this exhibit.
Luke finds cart to match horse sound
The picture below shows Guillermo photographing both Rachels they have their soundboxes round their necks Rachel on the left choose the sound of chickens (and Rumena did too) this sound was quite hard to match but we found some roosters on a milk bottle and some bouncy eggs from the shop. Rachel on the right choose the sound of sheep and found this picture of sheep being sheared.
Guillermo photos Rachel and Rachel
Sian choose the sound of the steam engine the picture below shows her playing her sound infront of the engine.
Sian choose the sound of the Steam Engine
Sian also took lots of instant photos, Guillermo did too. After we listened to the sounds with the objects in the MERL collection the group rated the photos withe smilies which are documented below.
Choosing smiley pics
Guillermo choosing his favourite photos
The image below shows Rachel discussing lunch using images of the food we ate and how it is produced on the farm.
Rachel discussing lunch
After a delicious farmers lunch prepared by Robyn helped by Hannah, which included carrots, salad, bread, ham, cheese and home made apple cake with custard…YUM.. we started the second half of the workshop. Nic introduced the group to a special kind of playdough called Squishy Circuits. First we discussed how the dough was made from flour the same basic material as the bread and cake we had eaten for our lunch. We discussed that flour comes from wheat and is milled to make flour. Nic showed us the Squishy Circuit Dough there were two colours, the salt dough which acts as a conductor was green and the sugar dough which is an insulator was orange. Nic explained that if you kept the two lumps of the green dough separate then added a battery with wires going in to each lump of green dough you could create a circuit which would allow an LED to light up. He said the the LED lights have a long leg and a short leg which need to stretch into the separate lumps of green conductive dough. If the LED did not work try turning it the other way round. Everyone had a go and making the lights turn on and off and modelling with the dough.
Rumena created a Squishy Circuit wtih lots of LEDS
The picture belwo show Rachel and Guilllermo with Cathy making Squishy Circuits.
Rachel and Guillermo created Squish Circuits
After a quick break outside where we had a go at an Apple and Spoon race inspired by MERL apple day the group continued to explore ways to create circuits and learn about how they could trigger or switch something such as a sound, a light or a vibration on or off. Nic showed the group how to use littleBits and we added some content using our sound boxes. The group experimented with turning sounds on and off by various triggers, such as a pressure switch, slider, pulse switch, light sensor.
Sky explores Littlebits
Luke and Cathy explore littleBits
LittleBits Skye and Luke
Sian, Rachel and Guillermo try Littlebits
The picture below shows Guillermo following an illustration of how to connect the littlBits. Each bit joins by magnets and the kit is colour coded to make it easier to use. Our Co-Researchers soon got the hang of how to connect them. We hope it might give our Co-Researchers some ideas about triggering sensory information in different ways in the museum collection at MERL. We will be doing further experiments in future workshops.
Today we met at Reading College to develop Klikin websites with our Co-Researchers exploring our senses and how we used our senses to experience our visit to the Museum of English Rural Life MERL. You can see the Klikin Group Page HERE
The picture below shows drawings by Andy reminding us of our 5 senses:
TOUCHING, TASTING, LISTENING, SMELLING and LOOKING.
The picture below shows Andy reminding us about our five senses. The group told us about their weekend and Andy pointed out what senses they had used.
Sian described and demonstrated her weekend activities in this video
Rumena likes the taste of Broccoli, Skye watched a film at the cinema which had an Ostrich in it, Guillmero loves to listen to the music of JLS, Rachel likes the smell of her pink nail varnish, Sian likes to touch the fur of her black labrador, Luke likes the taste of beer and Rachel listens to Michael Jackson.
The picture below shows the group discussing their senses and the visit to MERL last week. We used the instant pictures that Rumena and Sian took to help us remember the visit. Then Andy, Gosia, Ajay, Shauna and John from The Rix Centre introduced everyone to Klikin Websites
Co-Researchers develop Website
The picture below shows Guillermo at the computer with John helping create our website.
Guillermo helps creates our webpage
The two pictures below show Sian building the webpage and looking happy when she had uploaded a picture.
Sian creating webpage
After we uploaded photos, text and sounds on to our webpage we looked at the webpage together. The Wepage has an image link for each of the senses and image link about each Co-Researcher and about the MERL. The picture below shows Rachel pointing to the link she has chosen to discuss.
Rachel points to website
Sian described the sound of metal hitting metal to caption the picture of the Anvil from the MERL collection.
We had a workshop to introduce use of the Klik in ‘easy build’ website as a tool for Multimedia Advocacy to the Project participants and researchers and their supporters. It was at Liverpool Mencap’s Offices. Andy and Ajay from the Rix Centre showed the group how the Wiki Websites work and everyone had a go at making a website.
Here is a couple of video clips of what people thought of the workshop…
The ‘easy-build’ website worked well as a frame for conversations, self-advocacy and thinking about what we wanted to say to the public. We came up with a plan for a wiki that could feed our thoughts into the Speke Hall workshop series.
We planned 6 sections for our Wiki website to capture the Sensory Object research that we are doing.
ABOUT US – where we introduce all of us researchers and our supporters
SPEKE HALL – where we show the pictures, sound and video clips that we take at Speke Hall. We add our comments and share our thoughts.
WORKSHOPS – about each of the project workshops, we share our pictures and clips, talk about what we liked and our ideas.
MAKING THINGS – here we share the various creative things we have done, especially our work with artists and our work with exhibitions and collections
MUSEUMS – a section where we talk about our experiences of museums, collections and heritage sites. We use pictures and clips to talk about what works for us and what doesn’t!
MESSAGES – here we will let people know what we have to say about museums, heritage sites and how Sensory Objects can make them better. We will sum up what we learn on the project and give advice from our experience… we will tell it how it is!
We have ANOTHER PLAN – to make a wiki at each workshop session as part of organising our pictures and clips, thinking over our impressions and working up our comments.
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.