#VAmash is fun little hashtag* floating around Twitter that refers to the V&A at Dundee Digital Mash. This event took place in Dundee last month as part of the NEoN Festival and there was an impressive amount of people that turned up in response to the call out for “all digital creatives, developers and thinkers – help us kickstart V&A at Dundee Digital!”
I think I fit in there somewhere and thought it sounded like fun… so I joined in too. The night started well, on arrival we were given some coffee beans to use for currency at the bar and I got an energy boosting coffee to shake up my head a little in advance of the imminent brainstorming.
After a nice round of introductions from the hosts, we got to work answering some big questions that were thrown at us regarding the future of digital and museums. It was a quick-fire round, with 10 questions and about 60 seconds to answer each one. We started off with an easy one…
What will be the be the biggest digital trend in the next 5 – 10 years?
Next we were introduced to the Rip & Mix methodology, originally developed by T-Labs, Deutsche Telekom and the University of Dundee, and then given some items to rip apart.
Our group’s first task was to rip up silent discos, storytelling and an appointment reminder from a dentist by text. I think one of the most important aspects that came from these was the opportunity for a personal experience whilst in a social space, the ability to connect people and to be reminded of something. So actually, these seemingly non-related actions turned out to have quite alot in common in our eyes and we had lots of fun discussions about the possible mixing opportunities. Quick fun discussions, as time was of the essence – I’m not sure how much time we had to think up & develop our idea before presenting – but I think it was about 20 minutes. So please excuse the VERY rough sketches/ideas.
Our quick concept combined all three aspects to give a new spin on audio tours. Where the headphones have extra sensors built in and a number of exiting features. These were quickly prototyped by using paper coffee cups as headphones in a good old fashioned manner! The idea meant there would be a number of different features added to the headphones:
If you are walking through the space, the guide won’t tell you to turn left, turn right, go forward or backwards… but it will remind you if it thinks you have missed something – I think in the example last night I said it might say something like “Hey, look at me!” It might no need to be so direct – but you get the idea!
In this mode, the level of information you receive about each piece of work also depends on your movement speed and how close you are to pieces of work. So if you are moving around quickly and barely stopping, you will get quick flashes of information. If you stop at a painting, you would get more and more information depending on how close you are and how long you stop for. It might continue to tell you lots and lots of stories about the paintings and the artists if you stay there for a long time! Or it might just switch to music.
We also liked the idea that the elements of the guide could be influenced your proximity to people around you in the gallery and that could affect the audio you hear. So perhaps this social mode could feature voices, oppinions and discussions about the exhibitions from previous visitors, critics, curators and more – which could be triggered in different ways if there are multiple people looking at an item.
We also thought that as the headphones are reactive to how people move round the space, it is also a good opportunity way to track how people move round the museum and would therefore embed gps tracking. Then over time, it create an interesting visual map of visitor movements and also potentially feed in to future audio snippets.
That’s all folks
That was pretty much all we managed to come up with in the short space of time and I am not sure if I managed to communicate it all whilst presenting it or not. Or even if I have communicated it that well in this blog post. But I think there is something interesting there… although something that needs alot of developing.