somerset house, v1

Gathering Digital Content for the V1 Archive

One of the themes we’re researching is about collecting multiple points of view about museum objects (and making those perspectives part of the Official Record). Now that it’s the final day of our residency, we’re thinking about how to capture this fun and good experience.

One of our main goals was to try to generate lots of content, which I think we’ve done well. It just dawned on me too, though, that we’ve also put that content in all kinds of places across the web: various Twitter accounts, other people’s tweets, Dropbox, this WordPress blog, Flickr, the company blog, etc etc. Part of our archiving work should be gathering stuff from all over.

Here’s a quick list. I’m sure there’ll be more.

We also wrapped up everything into a paper-based archive yesterday too. We thought to add the unused roll of blue tape to the archive, since it made up such a lot of the aesthetic of the displays.

If you, or someone you know, popped any content online about Version One, please consider adding a link to it in the comments.

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somerset house, v1

Day 10: End

Our final day was spent talking to over twenty visitors about the project, and starting the process of archiving.

Thanks to Geoff, repeat visitor and professional archivist, I learnt a new word: paradata. That’s information to encapsulate something, as if you’re designing your archive to be recreated in 200 years. How do you describe the idea?

We took a lot of photos, and wrote a lot of stuff, which hopefully starts our miniparadata.

We ended the day with guests Andy and Lesley, who helped us pull down the installation, and wrap it all up. I felt a new kind of nervous as it began to rain on us and all our things made of paper as we headed for the taxi. No! You can’t rain on this! It’s an Archive!

  

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Day 9: Accessibility, Our First Pup Visit and a Guessing Game

It was excellent to have a visit from Kirin, Ros, Matthew, Toby and his dog, Willow this morning. They came to us from VocalEyes, a nationwide audio description charity, providing access to the arts for blind and partially sighted people. We were really curious to hear their impressions on the idea of Museum in a Box.

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Here’s our first canine visitor, Willow, with her human, Toby.

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Sighted people make so many assumptions about how things are perceived in the world. Ros, who is a describer-of-things (including all the audio descriptions of things you can hear at the British Museum), helped Kirin to understand what was in the room, and talked through the main installation in the centre of the room, and then our wall of other projects we’d done each day. It was interesting that she read the papers from the top down — perfectly natural — but the papers were oriented from the bottom up, because of the museum/table surface’s orientation in the room. It was lovely to witness how Kirin processed inputs by touch as well.

We noticed lots of things! It was particularly interesting to hear from Kirin about what was a bit confusing and how we could fix it.

  • Scale of items in the box should be accurate in relation to each other, and perhaps we should also have a specific object that is designed to be used for scale reference.
  • We could be specific about what the bottom of each object is, and which side is the front, so each can be oriented correctly. A face is a recognizable set of features, but it takes a while to parse what’s being touched of the stranger objects (like the House post or a Rosetta Stone).
  • It might be useful to have the design of the box itself represent the institution the objects come from, so to have it be in the shape of the floor plan, and have the objects generally placed in their correct spots. This observation opened up a nice possible game in a museum, if you have an object before you visit, you could go on a treasure hunt once you get there to try to find it.
  • It’s a big deal for some sight-impaired people to actually visit on-site. There’s so much to take in and process it can be really overwhelming. That’s a big part of what VocalEyes does, to help prepare for a visit by describing in detail what to expect. We thought that the Museum in a Box could be a good way to help people prepare to .
  • The box should contain an index. Whether it’s printed or audio or another format, it’s really important to be able to know easily what you’re dealing with.
  • The work we did on Day 5 with Adrian and Frankie seemed to really strike a chord. (That chord was struck with me, too, on the day!) It’s hugely helpful to hear information, and other audio mood-setting stuff too, like our waves crashing and museum hubbub form Day 2.

We’re looking forward to continuing to work with the VocalEyes team as we move forward with Museum in a Box. It is indeed the case that any design work we do to make our project accessible to sight-impaired people will also mean it’s more accessible for everyone.

Harriet is bringing her kids in this afternoon, so Tom, Felix and I are working on a guessing game.

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Day 8: Conversation and Gesture

It’s been a day of fantastic visitors and conversations. We opened a bit late, and after the archiving and renewal, it took us a while to choose our object of focus. We ended up settling on Tara, and drawing on a theme Harriet found about her lovely hand gestures. We’re still making the display. We also just brought in a cheeky bottle of prosecco to keep us and our guests going.










I blame Friday. And prosecco. But actually, the conversations we’re having here are illuminating and extremely useful, so we’re OK with having a slow day on the brown paper.

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Day 7: Playing with Scale

It’s a bit odd having a set of 3D prints of objects whose printed sizes don’t scale with reality. I mean where the biggest 3D prints aren’t the biggest actual objects. In fact, our House post is actually the tallest thing in reality, but it’s almost the smallest print. I’d also thought from the beginning that it would just be funny to print the Colossal Foot double the size of everything else just because it was called colossal. Turns out it’s the shortest thing in reality.

That led us to thinking about scale today, as our object of focus was the foot.

Tom found a fantastic augmented reality app called Augment, which I loaded on to my iPad. Online, you can configure a “tracker” image that your iPad will recognize easily and connect it with a 3D model. You can also specify the 3D model’s actual dimensions, so that’s what we did with the Colossal Foot, and now, at the eleventh hour, we’re popping in the House post, which is 2.5 metres tall.

Here’s the (garish) tracker image being found…

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And some screenshots of what turns up…

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And a funny video of Tom and I getting stuff running for the first time. What a pair of giggling dummies!

In the end, it was quite a simple and visceral experience, a really nice way to get a feel for the size of the thing if you weren’t able to visit the museum.

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