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Closing Plenary: Museums and the Web Asia


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Held in October, in Melbourne.

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Closing Plenary: Museums and the Web Asia

  1. 1. Assumption, Attention, Articulation George Oates @goodformand Museums and the Web Asia Melbourne, 2015 This presentation is being given on the lands of the Kulin Nation and I wish to acknowledge them as Traditional Owners. I would also like to pay my respects to their Elders, past and present, and the Elders from other communities who may be here today. Thank you Elly, and Tim for inviting me to come, and Creative Victoria for sponsoring the journey. It’s lovely to be in Melbourne, and I’ve enjoyed the conference very much.
  2. 2. By way of introduction, this is a map of me.
  3. 3. 1973-2003 Adelaide
  4. 4. 1973-2003 Adelaide Bad student, bike courier, fell into the web, by George! web design
  5. 5. 2003-2005 Vancouver Ludicorp, Flickr
  6. 6. 2005-2014 San Francisco Flickr, Flickr Commons, Internet Archive, Stamen Design
  7. 7. 2014 — London All of that experience has culminated in a new design firm I’ve set up this year in London. You’re only young once, and I’m not young anymore, so I decided to get my act together.
  8. 8. It’s called Good, Form & Spectacle. That URL there will direct you to all the projects I’ll talk about in a bit, so make a note of it, then sit back, and relax. But not too much.
  9. 9. My current business plan is a bit Robin Hood-y. I specialise in making exploratory interfaces to large content collections, so I’m working with clients doing that, but…
  10. 10. R&D Tools, Products Clients I’m working hard to construct the company along three lines: R&D, Tools and Products, and Client projects. A lot of what we’re doing now is the sort of noodling that Courtney described in her session this morning, and it’s really fun. I encourage you to try it! I’ll show you a bit of the work we’re doing later on.
  11. 11. What is museum practice? Today, I’d like to talk to you about assumptions we make, attention we give, and how thinking through articulation of our collections can prove useful. It’s my contention that we’re still echoing the origins of kunstkammern that emerged in the 16th Century in online experiences, where everything you’ve collected is displayed, and what people can see online is proportional to your institutional status. And that’s even after about 50 years of computing in the sector. The good thing is, displaying everything is fertile ground for a designer like me, and you’ll see that in a couple of our projects in a bit.
  12. 12. In a digital context, we’re still looking for great ways to show curatorial, or even editorial depth at scale. Many interfaces to cultural collections today either force you to search, or overwhelm you with explanation, instead of Showing The Things, and letting you explore.
  13. 13. I’d like you to carry with you a concept called The Speed Burden, developed by landscape designer and urbanist, Steve Mouzon.
  14. 14. Florence vs Atlanta Florence Atlanta These are overhead shots of old Florence, and Atlanta today. People and horses move slowly, and Florence is designed for this. The streets are tight and cars must drive slowly there. But, as speed of vehicles increases, so does the need for space, basically to allow those vehicles to turn without an accident. The Duomo basically fits inside that spaghetti bit in Atlanta.
  15. 15. Florence vs Atlanta Wander Search This concept feels like a nice metaphor to how we operate online today, particularly in the case of current design thinking around cultural catalogues. Search is the dominant paradigm, but I don’t think that’s how humans operate in a cultural context as their default. I think it’s much more about wandering, and we’re still not doing that well. Museums are so good at helping people wander in physical spaces, but we’re just not there yet online.
  16. 16. “It’s terribly important to get as much stuff out as possible.” –Roy Strong, 1972 The other introductory idea is that openness and sharing and all that is not a new idea. That’s what it’s been about since the great kunstkammern days in the 1500s. Perhaps now though, expectations have changed about what should be available to who, and when and how. As Seb alluded to yesterday, the public wants their museums back. This is Roy Strong, who was a very young director of the National Portrait Gallery, and then the V&A in London. He’s an interesting character who things well about what museum means, and even 40 years ago, was advocating openness.
  17. 17. Assumption I was happy to take the chance to reflect a bit on what I’ve seen as change since my early work in the cultural sector. I started this work in 2008 in developing The Commons on Flickr. That year was fascinating, because I spoke to people working in museums, libraries and archives all over the world, who were all taking tentative steps into the public web.
  18. 18. 2008 1. We can’t share that. 2. We can make money! 3. If we put this on the internet, we have to control what people say about it. Talk about each one. I’m not sure if these have gone away just yet, but they’ve certainly transformed.
  19. 19. 2015 1. Screen = Touch screen 2. I can get anything on the internet. 3. People know what they’re looking for. 4. This is only for researchers. 5. Make sure they steal our version. 6. We should outsource our authority. It’s hard to write a list of present assumptions… I’m sure if I asked each of you what you assume about working with the web, I’d get 200 different answers. These are just a short list of assumptions I’m poking at. They’re the ones I find a bit contradictory, and interesting. 1, 2 - public expectations around interaction and availability 3, 4 - “from a user point of view” 5, 6 - angst
  20. 20. 4. This is only for researchers. I’m lucky that I get to work across lots of different institutions, and it’s surprising how often you hear a defence of a shit interface described as “it’s for researchers”. When my godson turned 5, I gave him a present. It looked a bit like this ruby, and it was so big it hardly fitted in his hand. I got it at the V&A shop. Today, some seven years later, he has a huge rock collection, and is really interested in geology. I just got him the ruby because his name is Ruben, but it blossomed into a research interest for him. Stop saying ‘this is just for researchers’. Even researchers appreciate good design, but apart from that, surely you want to encourage exploration by audiences who could become interested in further research? To encourage porto-researchers? (That’s a bigger audience, isn’t it?)
  21. 21. We should outsource our authority. I wanted to pull this one out singly too, because it’s surprised me. It’s prevalent in library land, to pay sometimes quite exorbitant fees to external parties to purchase metadata records, and even to improve metadata using external authorities. We’re seeing increasing use of normal humans to perform metadata creation and clean-up tasks, which is good and should keep going. There’s just a little niggle in my mind about using these big metadata clearinghouses all the time, because, in addition to propagating errors like a virus, it also gives away control. I asked to the lead cataloguer at a big library in London when was the last time she’d written an original catalogue record, and she couldn’t remember.
  22. 22. Make sure they steal our version. This is a really interesting change, to me. It’s an acknowledgement of the nature of the web, and that people reuse, remix and steal stuff all the time. Taco Dibbits, Rijksmuseum “With the internet, it’s so difficult to control your copyright or use of images that we decided we’d rather people use a very good high-resolution image of the ‘Milkmaid’ from the Rijksmuseum rather than using a very bad reproduction.”
  23. 23. The Princess from the Land of Porcelain, James McNeill Whistler, 1863-1865.  Sara Stierch has started a Tumblr that collects crappy reproductions, “art with an identity problem”. The original is held at the Freer-Sackler in DC.
  24. 24. Unprecedented Access But! Wow. Look how much more we can all see online now. I’ve officially lost count of the photos in the Commons on Flickr, or the number of institutions who’ve now put their metadata online or are now sharing images… all the numbers of things are in the millions and billions and that’s fantastic. Precedents are getting old now, and it’s becoming normal.
  25. 25. Just magic.
  26. 26. I mean, look at the wonderful botanical detail. Just wow. Nice to see they mowed the lawn in 1592.
  27. 27. Attention I’ve also been wondering about how human attention has changed in the last 8 years, and I think it has, a lot. You might be familiar with Linda Stone’s theory of Continuous Partial Attention. She’s a writer and researcher and coined the phrase as early as 1998. It’s the idea that we all work on a variety of little things at once. Deep dives are difficult. I know I struggle to read long things on the web, and even on paper these days, to my detriment I’m sure.
  28. 28. But, we give our attention to lots of things, even if it’s in little bits. And lots of us do. Facebook reported a billion users in a single day in August.
  29. 29. That’s about 1 in 7 of us.
  30. 30. 30 But here’s the crazy part. As this article from February this year stated, loads of people who use Facebook don’t even realise they’re on the internet (or that there’s more to see than Facebook). (Have you got your Facebook page up yet?) :)
  31. 31. PewDiePie We’re also giving our attention to people like this. He’s a cute Swedish guy that goes by the moniker, PewDiePie.
  32. 32. 32 PewDiePie He makes rude, inane, funny videos on the web, often about narrating game play, and making the players do stupid, weird stuff like bashing each other with shopping trolleys.
  33. 33. I thought about playing you a video, but there’s more inanity and swearing that even I’m comfortable to promote.
  34. 34. 34 But, he’s funny and cute, so there’s that.
  35. 35. He has 40 million followers.
  36. 36. I’ve been following Kim Kardashian on Instagram with about 46 million of my fellow humans for the past month or so, and I think it’s making me dumber. I’ll be stopping this basic research after the conference. 46 million humans tune into her photostream for a moment here, a moment there, and she’s carved a brand and manipulated the intimate medium of instragram to make her watchers feel like they’re her friend.
  37. 37. This is a photo taken just before the new iphone came out last month. It’s lots of mostly men queuing in line to buy as many phones as they can afford. It’s really weird how Apple has entirely captured our attention. When I lived in San Francisco, just about everyone I know would drop everything to watch whatever Keynote was happening. Mac lovers have all been trained — me included — to buy their expensive shit, and make Apple one of the most valuable companies on the planet.
  38. 38. Timo Arnall And yet, our attention often looks like this. This is a photograph by my friend, Timo Arnall. He’s been documenting and studying “People Looking At Their Phones” for about 10 years… It’s well worth a look. And they’re great subjects, because they don’t know you’re looking at you. Their attention is fixed, even though it may be continuously distributed across a whole bunch of services and tasks. Even though there are a bunch of us tethered to our devices these days, there are also incredible, human things happening en masse.
  39. 39. CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 UN Women On the 14th of April last year, 276 schoolgirls were kidnapped from Government Secondary School, Chibok by Boko Haram terrorists in Nigeria. 57 escaped, and 219 are still missing. 527 days ago. Girls at the Federal Government Girls College (FGGC) in the town of Abaji, Nigeria, flash the hashtag that has gone viral around the world, urging the return of the girls abducted last month from another Federal Government Girls College in Chibok. Photo: UN Women/Mariam Kamara - See more at: school-in-nigeria#sthash.YHwlF87L.dpuf
  40. 40. This feels to me like some kind of renewed humanism. I’m certainly not a Renaissance scholar, but new reflection and study of humanism was central to the first Renaissance. Back then, people were reading the Classical texts, but now, we’re seeing each other instead.
  41. 41. Sky Ladder, Cai Guo-Qiang “In June, Cai ignited Sky Ladder in his home town of Quanzhou in Fujian. In addition to looking lovely as it rose over Huiyu Islet—a traditional fishing village far from the kinds of structures rising so high elsewhere in China—Sky Ladder also served as a birthday present for Cai’s 100-year-old grandmother.” Attention today feels like this a bit.
  42. 42. Cai Guo-Qiang - Drawing with Gunpowder - The Artist's Studio - MOCAtv Cai Guo-Qiang is a favourite artist of mine. When I saw his ladder, I poked deeper to see what other stuff I could find, and saw that he’d done some kind of residency at the Museum of Contemporary Art in LA.
  43. 43. Cai Guo-Qiang - Drawing with Gunpowder - The Artist's Studio - MOCAtv
  44. 44. The irony. Someone has chosen to highlight the only viewer actually paying attention, so we can spot her quickly.
  45. 45. © Yayoi Kusama I only realised last night that I’ve incorporated a bunch of art as conceptual hooks for this talk, and I’ve enjoyed that. There’s a huge swathe of artists who’ve responded to what I think is the collision of humans and computing — or at least I think so — and I’ve referenced some of them in this talk today. This is a work by Japanese artist, Yayoi Kusama. It was first installed at the Queensland Gallery of Modern Art in 2002. The work begins as a completely white living room, and is gradually covered in brightly coloured dots by visitors. Feels like crowdsourcing. Helen Stuckey, retro games, small, energetic, community. Still curious to hear much more about the result of public participation, particularly in terms of metadata enhancement or actual intellectual depth or advancement.
  46. 46. “Show that Modern Family episode with Edward Norton…” We were in the magic round room at the Melbourne Museum last night and I recalled this part in the most recent Apple Keynote, where Apple TV was being demoed. Note the complete lack of user interface elements on the screen… the search interface is vocal.
  47. 47. “Who stars in this?”
  48. 48. I like watching how people move in museums. It’s ponderous. But it can also be super fast, but it’s not like search. I sat in the same spot, a small room in a big museum in London, and I witnessed two young women stride into the space — completely miss the HOLY THORN RELIQUARY CONTAINING A THORN THAT MAY HAVE PIERCED JESUS’S BROW — whip out their phones in tandem, and take simultaneous photos of the first big shiny thing in the space. Their eyes had moved on to the next possible shot before they’d even taken the first shot. It was a weird and funny.
  49. 49. This is Barbara Hepworth, a famous British sculptor. Apart from her work being lovely, and often designed to be outside in a particular place, I like the way she thinks about interaction with it. “Sculpture communicates an immediate sense of life - you can feel the pulse of it. It is perceived, above all, by the sense of touch, which is our earliest sensation” Image:
  50. 50. “At its best, Hepworth’s work is like an invigorating walk by the sea. What a shame, then, that Tate has trapped her sculptures in airless vitrines” locked-away
  51. 51. It’s that idea fo search vs wonder, for me. These were a couple of drawings I made as I prepared the talk. The top left is the pervasive paradigm for using cultural stuff online. It’s a search, retrieve, go back, try again type of thing. The recognition of, and design for, things that are part of a network, is much more native to the web, and a method that humans handle well, I think.
  52. 52. Florence vs Atlanta It’s instinct versus speed, or something.
  53. 53. Kevin Brown, Mr. Penicillin Alexander Fleming Laboratory Museum in London
  54. 54. Wait. Are we still broadcasting? Web 2.0 data is alive Recognition, literacy, comprehension, manipulation, creativity We’re still looking for the transformations from information to experience, knowing to feeling, things to stories.
  55. 55. Articulation Now I’d like to share with you the work that my firm has been making this year. Broadly speaking, I’ve been exploring the idea of articulation. TIME CHECK - 30 mins to go?
  56. 56. 57 One kind of articulation is about good pronounciation, how well you can say the sounds that make words.
  57. 57. Therapists work at building…. wait… let me just calm that diagram down a bit.
  58. 58. Isolation Syllables Words Phrases Sentences Reading Conversation Articulation and speech therapists work along a spectrum from competence to mastery. I wonder where we are in this idea in terms of digital collections and their articulation. Not much further than syllables or words, I think. This predominant search mechanism feels very similar to being able to isolate a phoneme, like ‘puh’ or ‘buh’.
  59. 59. 60 There’s another kind of articulation which relates to adding features or joints to a body so it can move in more directions… I like this too, as a device to think with in terms of moving through a cultural collection.
  60. 60. 61 How many pivots can we give an object to interconnect it? How can you articulate your collections?
  61. 61. Sawada Laboratory As I was researching this idea, I came across this weird-ass speech robot that was too weird not to share. Oddly, it also represents where we are - basic, obvious, and how far we can move forward in this space, I think.
  62. 62. In a digital space, I think the experience of exploring a catalogue is still adhering to this display cabinet mentality. Still feels like loads of things in boxes or shelves; like stuff in isolation. What a great opportunity!
  63. 63. So it’s a return to this challenge of Kunstkammer vs Curatorial depth…
  64. 64. “V&A Spelunker” V&A
  65. 65. Show Everything
  66. 66. 68 Don’t underestimate the usefulness of a good old ranked list. They can give you quick answers and a good sense of the structure of the collection.
  67. 67. 69
  68. 68. 70
  69. 69. Catalogue as Landscape
  70. 70. Date Created Date Acquired Along the lines of Show Everything, I wanted to see if we could draw everything… We’re looking 1700-1800 Object per row, interactive 3 date inputs “completeness”
  71. 71. Date Created Date Acquired
  72. 72. Date Created Date Acquired Null / Not Known No acquisition date. Interesting how visuals like this are potentially very useful to staff inside the museum.
  73. 73. This is Grayson Perry, a British Turner Prize-winning artist. He made a brilliant exhibition at the British Museum called The Tomb of the Unknown Craftsman. As well as showing objects from the BM collection, he made several pieces himself, including this tapestry you see behind him. His work is irreverant, beautiful, and slowly made. He thinks interestingly about the art world, and is well worth a look. But, in the catalogue, he said his:
  74. 74. “The relationship between my personal themes and obsessions and the vastness of world culture as represented by the British Museum is like a narrow pilgrimage trail across an infinite plane.” Grayson Perry “The relationship between my personal themes and obsessions and the vastness of world culture as represented by the British Museum is like a narrow pilgrimage trail across an infinite plane.” Grayson Perry Search vs Wayfinding Image of the City Paths, Nodes, Landmarks How do we create an Image of a Catalogue?
  75. 75. Two Way Street This is a project we made using the British Museum catalogue (sadly after Mr Perry made his exhibition - it might have been useful).
  76. 76. Guerilla “generous interface” And it’s attempting a scalable, editorial point of view about the acquisition history of the collection.
  77. 77. All decades since it opened in 1751
  78. 78. 1980s The BM acquired the most things in the 1980s… namely an enormous currency collection from a UK government department.
  79. 79. The second chart is filtered to only show us the acquisition pattern for 988 things from the Venetian School the BM has.
  80. 80. And this is 85,485 things about ‘classical deity’. Seems a consistently popular subject.
  81. 81. We can also filter each chart to show WHO the things were acquired FROM. Loads of stories in here. LOADS.
  82. 82.,%20South Iraq, South
  83. 83.,%20South A second visualisation, which also reacts to the list of stuff it’s displaying. The spots tell you proportions of types of things that make up this group of objects. So in this case, you can tell at a glance that most of the things from South Iraq in the collection is clay tablets, and about a quarter of it was collected in 1883.
  84. 84. This griffonv is cast, so I click on “cast” and all of a sudden…
  85. 85. I’m in south India, looking at Garuda!
  86. 86. Isabel is a Curator in the Prints & Drawings department @BritishMuseum, who I’ve now met through Externally produced digital reflection. Useful to staff who operate with the collections every day.
  87. 87. Wellcome Library
  88. 88. Sir Henry Wellcome (1853 – 1936) was an American-British pharmaceutical entrepreneur. He founded the pharmaceutical company Burroughs Wellcome & Company with his colleague Silas Burroughs in 1880, which is one of the four large companies to eventually merge to form GlaxoSmithKline. In addition, he left a large amount of capital for charitable work in his will, which was used to form the Wellcome Trust, one of the world's largest medical charities. He was a keen collector of medical artifacts. They introduced the selling of medicine in tablet form to England under the 1884 trademark "Tabloid". Previously, medicines had been sold mostly as powders or liquids. Burroughs and Wellcome also introduced direct marketing to doctors, giving them free samples.
  89. 89. N.B. In this box, folders numbered with a number beginning with 7 are numbered with videodisc frame numbers. To find the catalogue number, look up the 7… number in the catalogue (don’t enter the final i) then look there for the catalogue number (probably beginning with the numeral 2) !
  90. 90. Week 1 Week 2 Week 3 Week 4 Scope of the Catalogue Show the THING (and not its record) Context, Context, Context Scaling Up
  91. 91. We explicitly set up the project as a series of loose sketches. It was exciting that Jenn and her team at the Wellcome was open to, and excited about working in public too. So, you can have a poke around all of this at your leisure, including the 60 or so blog posts we wrote on the project blog as we worked.
  92. 92. So, Week 1. In the first week, it was our job to show the scope of the catalogue. We got a dump of MARC XML and tried to figure out its size and shape, somewhat naively. It was apparent that the Wellcome folk weren’t really sure of these sorts of totals for things, or at least, they were figures that aren’t normally reported on. We were the first to report on how many actually digitised things existed.
  93. 93. This was one of the first visualisations we drew. It’s a map of all the MARC fields we found in the data – 184 of them. We’ve shaded them based on how many records have a value in each field, where black is most used. It was a very quick indication for us of “data coverage” – we were looking for some kind of blunt measure of data quality, thinking that “presence of data” is a good one.
  94. 94. Here’s the second visualisation, which shows in more detail which MARC fields are populated.
  95. 95. And the third, which shows, for any one MARC field, the distribution of values within it.
  96. 96. The bottom one there, “The Long Tail”, is Organization and Arrangement of Materials, field 351.
  97. 97. Mess begins to reveal itself. (Actually, this wasn’t mess… It was the collision of two classification systems: Library of Congress Subject Headings, and the Medical Subject Headings or MeSH).
  98. 98. For each of the subjects, we showed an individual row for each MaRC record, and highlighted different record types - library, archive, art. I was looking for insights into “completeness” or quality of records, or patterns that could indicate different human cataloguers.
  99. 99. This is an individual record. You can use every field to look for other stuff. Linking, linking, linking… Week 1 was about us Showing Everything. That’s a technique we’ve used in every project so far. Just draw everything you can, and interconnect it all. Then we moved on to Week 2: Show the Thing (and not just its record).
  100. 100. Week 2 - Show The Thing Show Everything It was great to poke at the library search logs. Seems to me to be pretty conclusive proof that most people don’t really know what they’re looking for.
  101. 101. Lots of people seemed to know that they were looking at something related to medicine, but most of the searches were very general. Very Florentian, if you will. Prepare to wander…
  102. 102. This is a comparison of two different designs of the same metadata record.
  103. 103. Just make everything bigger, oK?
  104. 104. Just make everything bigger, oK? Week 3…
  105. 105. Week 3: Content, Context James Gillray, satirical caricaturist and printmaker born in 1756. Lived through the birth of medicine in London, and was particularly scathing of quackery and politics of the period.
  106. 106. We ended up collaborating with the Wellcome team to make a giant webpage that showed all sorts of stuff we could find about James Gillray.
  107. 107. Content Scaffolding 1. About the thing 2. Themes around the thing 3. Connect to the rest of the collection 4. Connect to the rest of the web Here’s how we structured our work…
  108. 108. Lalita, the web editor at the library, selected some themes that worked for Gillray, like Vaccination and Quackery.
  109. 109. 115 Frankie and I also wrote all the copy that wasn’t from the catalogue… like, “Around 1798, Edward Jenner made the discovery that taking pus from a cow with cow pox (yes, a cow), and injecting that pus into a human, actually vaccinated the human against smallpox. Well, no wonder everyone thought he as a lunatic. Look, you can see Jenner in the print below, injecting pus into a skeptical woman surrounded by cow-humans.”
  110. 110. 116 We used the Google n-gram viewer to compare mentions of smallpox and vaccination in their text corpus. Though not Wellcome-specific, it was still interesting to note what happened around 1800.
  111. 111. 117 We used the Google n-gram viewer to compare mentions of smallpox and vaccination in their text corpus. Though not Wellcome-specific, it was still interesting to note what happened around 1800. Vaccination comes into being, smallpox drops.
  112. 112. We showed some of his contemporaries - a very rough list based on birthdates within 10 years of Gilroy…
  113. 113. Manually created list of external systems that know about Gillray
  114. 114. What does the web know about James Gillray? Can objects be internetually curious? That cracked open another research question for Good, Form & Spectacle which we’re starting to examine in another project about Curious Objects. What if objects look for representations or reflections of themselves online? More on that in a bit. Time check!!
  115. 115. Week 4: Try to scale the idea of context across the catalogue of about a million records.
  116. 116. Turn the people into characters… It’s nice how using these portraits from Wikipedia give you a sense for when these people were alive. We also grabbed birth/ death dates from the library catalogue where we could too.
  117. 117. Peak in 1788
  118. 118. API as by-product
  119. 119. British Museum (coming soon)
  120. 120. We haven’t quite got to Hitchcock. Maybe these are syllables.
  121. 121. @thesmallmuseum The Small Museum Major R&D project for the company. Looking for a premises in London now.
  122. 122. ~80% of institutions have less than 10 staff. I know this is a rubbery figure, but I’d guess it’s not far off. This is my new local library in London. What you don’t see in this photo is the two giant Bibliotecha machines that the librarian made me use to process what I wanted to borrow. Membership was handled on his terminal, but the catalog and borrowing wasn’t. He did admit that I could just come to the counter if I had to, or felt like a chat. (Photo taken by me)
  123. 123. –Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett “Treasure, Mirror, Forest, Archive” “Let us recover the protean nature of museum in the spirit of a Renaissance idea of the museum as “the axis through which all other structures of collection, categorizing, and knowing intersected; interweaving with words, images, and things it provided a space common to all.” According to Paula Findlen, “the Renaissance notion of museum defined imaginary space...[and] was a methodological premise that translated itself into a wide variety of social and cultural forms.” The many terms by which it was known are indicative of the ways in which an expansive notion of museum “allowed it to cross and confuse the intellectual and philosophical categories of biblioteca, thesaurus, and pandechion with visual constructs such as cornucopia and gazophylacium, and spatial constructs such as studio, casino, cabinet/gabinetto, galleria and theatro.” The museum was a theatrum (or domus) sapientiae, a theatrum mundi, a microcosm. It was a treasure, mirror, forest, and archive. As a physical entity, the museum might take the form of a free-standing cabinet, a room, a building, a garden, or a book, which provided a defined space for the gathering and arranging of objects and the contemplation or study of them, whether according to a pastoral or monastic ideal. Whatever it was called and whatever form it took, the museum was above all an idea and a set of practices.” Image:
  124. 124. International Council of Museums, UNESCO 2004 “The preparation of this book, Running a Museum: A Practical Handbook, came about at the request of UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Cultural Heritage of Iraq.”
  125. 125. Studying the museum as subject, museum as medium, museum as technology (skills, methods, techniques)
  126. 126. First instantiation was in March this year, at Somerset House in London. We were there for 7
  127. 127. Tom Flynn Harriet Maxwell
  128. 128. Table is museum. Derived from its space, literally.
  129. 129. Day 1 was about getting to know our new collection. We worked out where they were all from, when they were made, and when they were acquired by the museum.
  130. 130. Visualisation of geographical distribution
  131. 131. Each day we picked an object of focus. This is Hoa Hakanan’aia. We mapped his journey from Easter Island to the British Museum. Interesting side fact - he was acquired by the museum on the same day as the Rosetta Stone.
  132. 132. This is a volunteer, Jim, who came in on Day 2 to help out.
  133. 133. Day 4: Nandi Steed of Shiva. Nandi sits outside temples to Shiva. In real life, he’s surrounded by energy, people, flame, prayers and food. In the museum, he’s in a cold blue corridor, solitary and completely out of context.
  134. 134. I think it was the story behind our Rameses II that cemented my interest in revealing the acquisition history at the BM. This guy was the British Consul General to Egypt for a short while, and in that time he sold over a thousand objects at auction to the British Museum, and profited personally. For this display, we printed out about 100 of the things he brought to England.
  135. 135. It was interesting to witness how, as we called ourselves “museum” people calmed as they entered, as if primed for something in particular.
  136. 136. Somerset house visitors gave attention freely. Small museums are special because of the personal contact
  137. 137. 158 We had some kiddie visitors too…
  138. 138. 159 And the next day, Harriet (their mum) brought in a museum in a box they’d made overnight. It is The Arthur and Henry Maxwell Bequest. Oh, shit. We’re going to be a museum of museums in boxes.
  139. 139. “How does the museum, despite its best efforts to create certainty, produce unpredictability? Through fragmentation, aggregration, selection, juxtaposition, connection, contrast, excess, and confusion.” Barbara Kirshenblatt Gimblet
  140. 140. Product Development Museum in a Box Emergent collections Instantiation of different opinions Product people will buy, with any luck
  141. 141. Museum 1 Museum 2 Museum 3 Here’s the general idea…
  142. 142. Box 1 Box 2 Museum 1 Museum 2 Museum 3 Cross-pollination Curious objects New collections?
  143. 143. + Raspberry Pi (or other small computer) Here’s the idea… For our second round prototype, we’re going to make two boxes: 1 of London statues of women, and the other of masks from institutions around the world.
  144. 144. I wanted to show you some of our very early experiments
  145. 145. Curious about how the object itself could stimulate specific interfaces, in this case, using the Rosetta Stone replica as a trigger to translate things.
  146. 146. 168
  147. 147. 169
  148. 148. On our last day we did a quick augmented reality experiment with The Colossal Foot. This was a crowd favourite!
  149. 149. This is when we first got it running…
  150. 150. We’re working on Version 2 now. Tom has been modelling statues of women in London for one box, like
  151. 151. Violette Szabo, who was a French-born English Special Operations Executive agent during the Second World War, and a posthumous recipient of the George Cross. On her second mission into occupied France, Szabo was captured by the German Army, interrogated and tortured, and deported to Germany where she was eventually executed at Ravensbrück concentration camp. Now there’s a statue of her on the banks of the Thames in London, which we’ve scanned and will print for one box.
  152. 152. This is a tiger from the Horseman Museum in London. We’re also talking to the National Mask Museum of Korea, the Smithsonian, Te Papa, and still need one or two others, so if you’re interested, please let me know.
  153. 153. It’s also been an interesting process to try to get original models scanned by a set of different institutions. So… articulation. Takes many forms so far in the young life of Good, Form & Spectacle. As we’ve seen, I’m working on very digital things, and some new physical and digital blends. I’m very curious about the physical realm, especially given I’ve been in software for the past 20 years.
  154. 154. Lucas Blalock Good, Form & Spectacle is still in the Deconstruction phase and maybe for some time. Hell, maybe I'll be there forever “Use the dumbest tools bluntly” "If you hit something call it the target" Use the dumbest tools bluntly - Lucas Blalock
  155. 155. Hitchcock, North by Northwest Cinematographer’s 61 camera angles for the the crop dusting sequence. Digital practice? My claim is that we’re still at the very beginning, and we’re defaulting to kunstkammern. (Although the vast and magnificent Atlas of Living Australia might have proved me wrong…) Just like in the 1500s, when these cabinets started to emerge, they were often used as status symbols by princes and wealthy men. But, importantly, they also started to become centres for research and development of new scientific ideas. I’m excited because it feels like we’re still in the very early days, and that’s a fun space for a designer to operate. We need more articulate speakers, and to gather new perspectives and contexts. There are 000s of languages on Earth, but most cultural catalogues only speak one. How can we change this? My bet is by starting very small and TALKING A LOT ABOUT IT.
  156. 156. Thank You. George Oates @goodformand Grayson Perry Thanks!