NODEM 2014: Nordic Digital Excellence in Museums Conference

In December 2014, I attended the NODEM 2014 conference in Warsaw, Poland to present a project I have been collaborating on with US and Swedish researchers at the Swedish Naval Museum (Marinmuseum) in Karlskrona. Focused on creating augmented reality panoramas for the Neptun Submarine exhibition, the project also engages us in a number of research questions about digitally-enhanced museum spaces and heritage sites. The poster (below) has more info about the project, including our basic goals and more information about my collaborators. (Or you can download a pdf version of the poster : Poster-NODEM)

Neptun Project Poster

Neptun Project Poster

The conference itself was centred on the topic of “Engaging Spaces: Interpretation, Design, and Digital Strategies” and so the participants presented a lot of very interesting work responding to the new ways that cultural heritage and museums can use digital technologies to re-imagine, redesign, and reflect on: methods for enhancing user-expereriences beyond traditional exhibition practices; developing new digital archiving and preservation practices; and exploring issues about authority and authenticity with collaborative and participatory practices that use non-experts as integral aspects of design and content production for digital heritage objects.

Be Democracy Exhibition Still

The “sphere of communication” comprised of twitter messages at the centre of the BeDemocracy exhibition, Nobel Peace Center, Norway.

I was particularly interested in a  presentation of an exhibition called “BeDemocracy” at the Nobel Peace Center in Norway that used social media both as a content-generator “outside” the exhibition space, as well as a method to influence the design of the exhibition itself and the participation of its visitors. Designed by Expology, the exhibition explored how social media can influence and engage debates about democracy through personalised digital self-expression (via twitter, and blogging for example). The exhibition encouraged an online debate and then included the messages and online content as part of the display encased within a global sphere at the exhibition center. Visitors could enter the sphere, read the messages and then, via use of Kinect, a gesture-recognition software, “like” messages using a thumbs-up hand motion that recorded their votes. I loved the iterative design principles that kept the exhibition dynamic and encouraged thoughtful, social, and physicalised participation about serious topics. I have written elsewhere, in Digital Humanities Quarterly, for example, about how social media (or ME-dia) can be used for exactly these kinds of embodied, personal cultural expressions.

Pipe Cleaner Message Gallery, BeDemocracy Exhibition, Nobel Peace centre, Norway

Pipe Cleaner Message Gallery, BeDemocracy Exhibition, Nobel Peace Center, Norway

The playful use of more “old-school” methods that allowed visitors to leave “pipe-cleaner messages” (where the materials were bent and formed to make shapes and words) was a reminder of the way that technologically produced interaction, can exist alongside other innovative more material-making and expression. It was an evocative and simple mode to show “process” and tactile responsiveness in other mediated ways. According to the presenter at NODEM, visitors would spend a long time in the gallery after the exhibition to “craft” their hand-made messages. I love the results!

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Designing Digital Heritage: A Seminar for Network Building

neptun submarine

A technician inside the torpedo tube of the Neptun Submarine (Marinmuseum, Karlskrona). I am currently working with collaborators to create an Augmented Reality experience for visitors inside the submarine to enhance their exhibition experience. But we have other ways to gain entry… (photo credit: Erling Klintefors, Marinmuseum)

I recently received funding (with my colleague Lupita Alvarez) from my university (The University of Skövde) to help establish an International network for educational programs and research about cultural heritage and game technologies. Increasingly digital technologies are incorporated within museums and cultural heritage sites to enhance visitor experiences beyond traditional exhibition design. Our goal is to explore ways that we can build resources and explore interdisciplinary pedagogical strategies and support avenues for research, from undergraduate education through senior research projects, to critically engage in the development of digitally-enhanced cultural heritage experiences.

Digital Heritage Seminar Poster

Seminar Poster

To this end, we begin in the fall 2014 with a seminar called “Designing Digital Heritage” hosted by my university and organised by Lupita and I. We have invited professionals in a variety of related fields who will come together to consider how we can strategically align existing curricula at our institutions, find venues for exploration, and develop methods and modes, tools and technologies, and user-experiences to enrich our connections to history and culture.  The aim of this seminar is to provide a first-stage platform for developing an network comprised of cultural heritage and museum specialists, curators, exhibition designers, technology application designers, digital media and game design researchers, and others in related culture media industries to explore opportunities for interdisciplinary collaboration. It’s an exciting line-up, with keynote speaker Prof. Jay David Bolter from Georgia Institute of Technology and others from academia and industry, and I look forward to presentations and discussions and brainstorming workshops. More information is available on the seminar website and more activities will be forthcoming. (Download seminar poster as a pdf: Digital Heritage Seminar Poster)

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Back to (new) School!

Univ LogoI am excited to announce my new affiliation as a Biträdande Professor in Media Arts, Aesthetics, and Narration at the University of Skövde. After nearly ten years working within digital culture at Blekinge Tekniska Högskola, it was certainly time for a change. I have found a new platform to extend my interests in emerging digital culture and media forms by focusing more precisely on computer game development and innovation, and the related artistic and expressive means by which they engage our material culture. To that end I have joined the School of Informatics and the Media, Technology and Culture Research Group (MTEC). I will be teaching within undergraduate and graduate courses focused on game narratives, image analysis, digital aesthetics, and media theory and production. My main focus in the immediate future will be on digital cultural heritage and the ways in which game technologies, tactile media, and strategies of playful engagement and storytelling can enhance user experience.

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The Art Line Catalogue: A Baltic Collaboration is now available!

baltic sea

The Baltic Sea (catalogue still)

The Art Line Catalogue: A Baltic Collaboration collects together a series of essays from artists, researchers, and culture workers to document the scope of the 3 ½ year-long EU project focussed on innovative art cooperation in the Southern Baltic region. And it is beautiful! It is available in print, in a pdf version, and also in a lovely digitally-rendered version that encapsulates the spirit of water and flow between the voices and materials of our Baltic adventure. Looking back over the projects, it is clear to see why Art Line was selected by The European Commission as a flagship project and why it is now a part of the Action Plan for the Baltic Sea Strategy. It’s hard to believe so much was accomplished by so many in such a relatively short time. And it’s astounding to see the level of talent among the artists, curators, researchers, and others who worked in the various projects. As one of our contributors, Chris Torch from Intercult writes, “If you are in the least interested in contemporary art in the context of public space, digital media, storytelling and/or new technology, this is for you! “ I also have contributed 2 essays to the volume, focused on developing a sustainable “digital art platform” and on the Telling the Baltic project, where I served as a project coordinator, contributer, and researcher. Visit the Art Line Catalogue Website to access the catalogue in its various iterations: either via map, gallery, and/or downloadable full pdf. Print copies may be available on request.

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Ahoy! Remaking Moby-Dick is now in print!

Book cover

The Book Cover: itself a remaking submission

After our screening of the video submissions for the Remaking Moby-Dick project, Trish Harris (project curator) and I continued to accept more literary submissions from which we made a selection and collected together in a print volume, with QR-code links to other video and audio remakings. We even included contributions from more playful non-human poetry generators. It’s a truly inspiring collection of reflections with Melville’s Moby-Dick as an inspirational muse, and the breadth and talent of the contributors is astounding; from authors with multiple books of poetry and fiction, to academics with a love of media and literature, to musicians, photographers and fine artists, they all came aboard and made our project an enormous success. You can view the remaking blog for a list of contributors and links to find the full text, available online via Lulu and Amazon. Remaking Moby-Dick was published jointly by Art Line and the Pea River Journal.

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Festive Festival Festivities

Dance Performance: "White"

Dance Performance: “White”

The Mixing Realities Digital Performance Festival (or #mixitupfest) in Karlskrona on May 24-26 for Art Line was a wonderful and successful (and exhausting for me) three days of installations, performances, seminar discussions, and, of course, our 24 hour Marathon Reading of Moby-Dick, in person and online around the world. I could not have hoped for a more successful event, and it was wonderful to see how many turned out for the activities and participated in the festival. I am grateful to all for the creativity and energy and the innovative ways in which we able to consider the multi-layered dimensions of contemporary digital art and media. The activities are summarized in more depth on the Art Line website.

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The Symphony: a remaking

Here is another of my MoMoby Productions videos for the Remaking Moby-Dick Project  for “Chapter 132: The Symphony”  in Moby-Dick. It is sung by Astrid Selling  and Kristin Borgehed, from Folk Practice Academy in Ronneby, Sweden. I have been working with both of them for another research project based on Baltic stories, and they seemed like the perfect “chorus” to reimagine the music of the sea drawn from the women who wait for others to return, or who just celebrate their own togetherness.

The images come from a tapestry I documented and remixed at the Herring Era Museum in Siglufjörður, Iceland for another project when I visited there during a research residency in February 2013. The tapestry depicts Icelandic “herring girls” hard at work in brutal manual labor (artistically rendered and contrasted in much softer handicraft form, which I loved) combined with depictions of them in “stillness,” backs turned to us, waiting for the ships to come in. Do they wait for fish, men, or just more money to keep them financially independent? They keep their secrets.

 

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