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Rock on \\m// (> . <) \\m// ! Listening to Metallica’s Enter Sandman – one of the tracks on the fashion exhibition mixtapes I asked my informants to make as part of the cultural probes, which I’ve now turned into one long playlist on YouTube. Sure woke me up. And this music business really is a great way to get transported into the mood or mindset set by my informants. Yay! There’s quite a lot of dark and moody stuff on the playlist (and a few off-beat ones, like Metallica, Verdi and Doris Day. Plus the quirky, dancy, electronica numbers, but still often with a sombre twist). Interesting that this is the sort of connotation fashion has, or the mood that my informants would like to set for a fashion exhibition – very similar to the kind of soundtrack you would find in a lot of fashion shows. It would seem that in a fashion context, dark and moody translates as cool and sexy.

I’m using the playlist as background music as I’m sorting through the images I’ve been sent and trawling instagram for additional imagery (pictures uploaded by my informants).With all the weird and wonderful photos, links, cards, maps and comments that have been trickling in over summer, I now have a whole wall full of material. I mean, get a load of this:

The amount and quality of the returns is pretty much as I hoped and expected – including a nice selection of surprises. As described in an earlier post, I will not attempt to analyze this material, but use it for inspiration. Still, there are a couple of things that call for a comment.

Like the woman who sent a picture of her son in response to the #Copenhagen Style-theme. Bang on the money; kids surely are the must-have accessory around these parts, and the whole toddler-hipster (tipster? toddster?) things is huge too. Fashion is many things. Or the one budding designer, who sent a picture of a drawing she made in response to #My media. (Her list of bookmarks for where she finds her inspiration online, which she also sent, is a mile long, and she runs a blog and uses her phone to share images on Instagram; still it’s the pen and paper that is closest to her heart). The media-category also included pictures of newspapers, magazines and a website, but no mobiles, tablets or laptops (is this because the mobile was used for taking the photo, or because the informants didn’t consider it a medium?). And then there’s the nail varnish collection inpspired by baroque with names like Johan Sebastian Bach, Peter Paul Rubens and Ludvig XIV (an all male cast, as was the order of the day) – again, i didn’t see that one coming, but it’s a great reminder that inspiration has no limits, and fashion goes all over the shop when it comes to finding it.

Interestingly, I have had only one response to my call for Polyvore sets (+ one in paper form, i.e. a response to the restyling of New Look, but shying away from using the social media platform). Similarly, I have had only one Pinterest board, even though most repondents have a profile (but seem to use it irregularly). So even though these social media platforms may hold an interesting potential seen from a museum mediation point of view, getting people to use them to participate – or at all – could prove a challenge. Which is pretty much the experience in the museum community anyway. And only one person opted to visit the Rokoko-mania exhibition, even though all had been issued with two free tickets. She also tried the (in beta) accompanying app, but found that it didn’t really add much to the experience, although she thought it useful that she could use the app to read the texts in preparation for the visit.

The workshop is scheduled in a couple of weeks. Only four of the original eight informants will participate (one withdrew from the whole project; another has sent in a good lot of photos but couldn’t make the date; one contributed a map and other paper-tasks, but has now moved elsewhere, and one I just never heard back from (all the more puzzling as she was the one who posted on her own blog how interesting and relevant the project was for her). But then they are all really creative and engaged in each their particular way, so I’m sure some interesting things will come out of the workshop. Now it’s up to me to plan it well!

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‘Mode er mange ting, mest af alt når folk tør!’ (Fashion is many things, most of all when people dare!) Quote Ditte Andersen, in H&M’s current Trendscout competition on Facebook.

The prize is a ticket to the Roskilde music festival, where the lucky winners will be assigned to document festival trends and eye-catching styles, (brilliant bit of social media marketing cum trend research there, H&M!), and the contestors are now presenting themselves, their style and their thoughts on fashion on the FB event page in the hope to get picked for a spot in the Reboot Camp.

With statements like the one above, this makes for a very fine source of inspiration on how people view fashion, so here’s a couple more:

I guess these are some of the thoughts that I would like to hear from my informants; in fact, people like these could be my informants, people who will define themselves as having a passion for fashion (even if in this case the real driving force may be the hope of a cheap festival) What is interesting to me is that this take on fashion is very different from the museums’ understanding, where the thinking behind the former focus on the curation of costume or dress still seems to dominate even if the focus is now on fashion, i.e. it is centered around artifacts, artistry & artisanship and not on cultures of use.


I guess I need to qualify that a bit, but feel that it makes more sense to do that in yet another post.

crossposted på Formidlingsnettet

Fredagen bød på en hel række af ‘Interactions’; et mix af præsentationer og mini’workshops. Her kunne man vælge mellem en introduktion til det sociale tagging projekt steve.museum og indføring i iTunes U potentiale som distributionskanal for webcasts; instruktioner i hvordan man bygger en API til sit museum (og hvorfor det er en ide at gøre det!) eller deltagelse i ideudvikling af forretningsmodeller for åbne mediearkiver.

Gail Durbin fra V&A fortalte underholdende om hvordan sociale medier og aktiviteter kan skabe engagement med kollektionerne og værdifulde brugeroplevelser, for eksempel ved at hjælpe folk til at producere egne bøger og objekter gennem eksisterende nerservices som Blurp og Qoop, eller ved at opfordre de besøgende til selv at bidrage til museets indsamling som det for eksempel sker i V&As kommende brudekjoleudstilling.

I Handheld Handbook sessionen splittede tilhørerne op i en række diskussionsgupper omkring både praktiske spørgsmål og ideer for vejen frem – hænger vi for fast i traditionenen for audioguides; hvor meget eller hvor lidt – og hvis, hvordan – skal vi guide de besøgende; hvorfor ikke lade mobile applikationer gå ud i det offentlige rum eller på tværs af insitutioner; kunne vi udnytte smartphones potentiale ikke alene som multimedial informationskanal men også som redskab og et legetøj? Hvis du eller din institution har palner om at udvikle dette område er der inspiration at hente i Koven Smith fra The Metroplolitan Museums’ paper, eller på thehandheldconference-wikien.

Brooklyn Museum vandt den overordnede ‘Best of the Web Award’ for deres innovative brug af sociale medier; se også de øvrige vindere og nominerede; der er masser af inspiration at hente.

Lørdagen startede med demonstrationer fra både ‘Best of the Web’ vindere og en række andre interessante projekter.

I sessionerne kunne man blandt andet høre om strategier for og erfaringer med opbygning og brug af online kollektioner, med interessante projekter fra både Finland, New Zealand og Canada.

Vincent Puig fra Centre Pompidou præsenterede en case study rapport om brugerrespons og -bidrag i den – for nogen provokerende – udstilling Traces du sacré og kom blandt andet ind på synliggørelsen af forskellige polemiske positioner i forhold til værkerne.
Darren Peacock præsenterede sit og Andelina Russos akademiske studie af hvad det indebærer for institutionerne at søge at engagere publikum gennem brug af sociale medier. Meget spændende læsning for de, der er interesserede i den problematik.

Jolly good fun with Gail Durbin of V&A’s presentation on how to get people to engage with your collections using existing social online services. Encouraging people to create aesthetic object such as wrapping paper, stickers, moo-cards or even books from photos taken in the galleries or from the online collections. Also sending postcards, submitting family photos, sharing personal stories and images and make them part of the museum collection.

Spending Easter by Limfjorden has given me a chance to check out the local Struer Museum and its use of digital media.
Having read about their ‘Byskriver’ (town writer) project online, a project which aims to engage the locals and museum visitors in writing the recent town history, I already knew that they were up to something, and was happy to find that the museum was indeed very focused on using digital technologyin novel ways as part of the museum communication. I was lucky to be able to have a good chat with a project manager who happened to be working, and who was happy to share information on the technology and concepts behind the project (Thank you, Sara!).

Basically, the recent town history is presented to museum visitors on a large touchscreen as well as on the very-soon-to-be-updated website. Its flash-based interface allows for visual browsing in a timeline design where years and images open as articles, and function as entry points to related topics and mediafiles. This visual approach invites exploration; what the system does not support, however, is word based searches, which means that you cannot use it as a reference tool to check out a certain topic of interest.
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Knowing that the project encourages local participation, I had expected for it to make use of new social media technology. Interestingly, this is not the case. Instead, museum visitors are asked to leave comments on the articles as voice recorded messages via a phone hanging next to the touchscreen, or to speak to the ‘byskriver’ whose desk is right next to the display. Online visitors can send their comments in an e-mail. Rather than letting the public loose on its system, the ‘byskriver’ works as a moderator, filtering the inputs and integrating them into the system in writing or as MP3files. This work takes place, through the easy-to-manage Conent Management System, at the desk in the exhibition space. Unfortunately, the museum does not systematically monitor the user participation, so I could not really get any information on how (much) users are actually interacting with the system.

As a bonus to my visit, I was excited to find that Struer Museum also makes use of QR codes as a way of offering information in their art collection. At the reception desk, visitors can borrow a phone (a Nokia E51, highly recommended for the purpose by Sara) with the QR reader installed, and I was able to experience first hand how seamlessly the system worked. The photoshot didn’t have to be more precise than any other snapshot, and the information retrieved from a URL by the reader combined text, images and real-player videos. Very nice.
As I suspected, however, the experience so far shows that most visitors are not familiar with the technology. The museum is therefore working to inform visitors of this option – guiding them on how to download a reader to their own camera phone by simply sending and SMS – and hope for a greater uptake to develop.

Definitely worth a visit

Reading through the back catalogue of posts from Nina Simon’s Museum 2.0 blog, I came upon an older post on what makes a truly mind-blowing/life-changing/at-least-pretty-darn-good-and-memorable exhibition. Now, that is a pretty tall order, and not one that is of much use as a starting point for my process.
Still, she makes som interesting points and observations about one person visions versus collaborative efforts, about museum professionals versus outsiders, and, most relevant to this context, about the power of selective storytelling and the importance of being passionate about the story that you tell. In Nina Simon’s words So much of what exhibit designers do is hunt for the story within a topic, trying to tease out the life in an artifact or a scientific process or a historical event. […]. But when the designer doesn’t find that magic story, fall in love with it, and feel compelled to share it, the exhibition falls flat. It becomes a recitation written on college-ruled paper in a chalk-filled classroom on a September afternoon.

Again I feel compelled to make reference to Robert Wilson’s Everything You Can Think of is True exhibition at Den Sorte Diamant, CPH (closing on April 4th, so treat yourself to a slice of Wonderland while it’s still there!), as this was, for me, an almost magical experience, and so an example of this kind of life-changing exhibition. What sticks with me is the whole ambience, created by Wilsons scenography including lights, swings, tableaus and a tapestry of sound. The sketches on display, arguably the true ‘content’ of the exhibition, made less of a lasting impression. Yet, thanks to the special atmosphere of the exhibition, I probably spent more time taking in the details than I would have in a more traditional exhibition setting. The point I’m trying to make is that Nina Simon has point when it comes to the power of visionary thinking.

Now, Wilson falls in to the ‘auteur’ category as a scenographer and exhibition designer. Few museum professionals fall in to that category, and as an upstart-museum-professional-wannabe… I guess the thing to do is just to study and marvel at the masterworks, like film- and art students would, take inspiration and carry on with the humble hope of one day mastering just the basics. And then hunt down that story and start falling in love. Even when it’s a case of ‘when you can’t get the one you love, love the one you get’.

(Actually, the blog post I thought I was going to write was about whether an online exhibition connected to an onsite exhibition should strive to be as close as possible to a 1:1 representation of the onsite version (with considerations to the relative strengths of the media, of course) or if exploring and unfolding just a corner or tangent of the physical exhibition online would be a better approach. Guess I got sidetracked. And as this latter topic is still worth mulling over as more than an aside, let me get back to that in a later post.)