Paul Skinner: Creating new processes in design
New Visions -seminaari Logomossa 11.10.2018
- New Visions oli Historian museo Turkuun -hankkeen järjestämä kansainvälinen seminaari, jossa käsiteltiin tulevaisuuden museoita kaupunkisuunnittelun, arkkitehtuurin ja sisältöjen esittämisen näkökulmista. Julkaisemme videotallenteet puheenvuoroista YouTubessa ja blogissamme. Videotallenteet eivät ole tekstitettyjä, mutta blogin yhteydestä löytyy puheenvuorot litteroituina.
Hello. My name is Paul. I'm from a place called Tellart. I live in Amsterdam and I'm English. We love, when we do presentations, we love to have this quote from Gibson up on the screen, because it really embodies the kind of passion that all of us at Tellart seem to have. We've kind of all grown up from the similar space. I was just explaining it to someone earlier, how my education represents this. But I'll let you think about that and maybe we circle back a bit later, when we get towards the end. So, I'm going to go very, very fast through this stuff. Because I've got a lot of stuff to show you. Some of which is rambling thought. Some of which is, sort of, I'll try to respond to some of the stuff that I've heard today. Some of it is about showing our work, which actually is really difficult to show, some of it. Because I could talk for two hours about one project as could have also all the other guys that you've seen today. But I've actually re-titled this a little bit, because of course, we've been talking about it, but there's some key elements that I've heard of today that I want to get into. And the first one is experience. So, there's a list of stuff that I'm going to try and get through. And I'm going to go very fast. But just so you know, these are the kind of things you're going to be hearing. A bit about myself very quickly. I studied many, many years ago in a place called the Institute of Digital Art Technology which is part of the University of Plymouth. This was a course that combined technology and art. I was just saying how it was a kind of toss up for me between architecture and it's really interesting to think about how that works. These days all of our lives are of course a mixture of technology and the real world as Jenni said just the same. Then went on to do physical computing in an RD role. This was a software development job in central London, in an innovative little digital communications agency. Then I moved up the pecking order as it were in the communications world to go to White and Kennedy which is a huge advertising firm who invented Just do it for Nike. If you haven't heard of them. Then very, very cool place to work. They wanted me to do creative technology for them. Which of course, they had no idea how to do. So, it was very interesting thing to be writing TV ads and trying to get them think about how to create immersive experience with technology. And now I found Tellart. And Tellart is exactly what I wanted. Tellart is a perfect blend between technology and real-world experience which is what my whole passion is about.
We actually draw from our roots in industrial design and information design and our client base is really, really diverse. And it actually really helps us. When we're talking to a very specific audience like this, which is mostly museums, unless I'm wrong. But we also have product innovation and we also have marketing. We also have really out-there clients that approach us for all kinds of weird stuff. So, it's really nice to be able to bring insights from, and to reverse industries in this way. One of the first things I wanted to talk about was immersionist simulation. If you look into the deep roots of Tellart and the way our founders studied industrial design, on the East-Coast of America, they were dealing with these kind of requests. This was a sponsor project that got money from a place called Darpa who you might know for all of their crazy robotics for the military and so on. To help people who are studying for military medicine, to be able to test what they've learned on robotic dummies. So rather than sort of rubber dummies, they came to Tellart and to RISD, who run the course with students, to develop a robotic digital version of that, so, that actually was able to provide dynamic feedback and real-world simulations. Because a rubber dummy in its traditional form had no way of simulating how it was to be in a field in middle of a battle, some place or other in the world, where you're getting shot at at the same time as trying to put something in a vein somewhere. And to me this is a very nice example of what immersion is about. It's about creating another layer like a more real version. Something which actually makes you really in the moment fully immersed in what you're doing. Using all of your senses and so on. I'm going to start talking about images a little bit. Images of course, are something we all take for granted, we all work with on a day-to-day basis but it's very useful to think about image. Because it's one of the most basic forms, we've taken for granted so long, as a means of communication. We really like this quote, which is showing, this is from back in 850 from St. John of Damascus, talking about how images really were invented or devised to reveal something which is otherwise not perceptible by humans in their real-life situation. And I really like that idea. Because you can convey things in an image which you can't convey if you're just standing in front of it. Images have a very particular set of properties that we can take advantage of. And in so thinking, you can imagine images as a very rudimentary technology of course, it is a technology, just as the pen and the candle were technologies. But to work with technologies like images, even in their most basic, we need to understand how perception works. And this being a kind of simple model for how you can design to what people understand and how people understand and read images. We are trying to convey the idea of a cube, but we also know that an image of a cube is not really a cube, it's just two-dimensional. So how do we simulate a cube visually, using signs? To represent the idea of a cube in the mind of the beholder, and in doing so we create this relationship of sender and receiver and we take advantage of things like the core principals to make sure that there's this unpacking is done in the mind of the visitor or the viewer through this process of encoding into emergent and then decoding into meaning.
And when you think about images more generally of course, when you are encoding information like this, and this is our information design roots, there's a huge amount of stuff that you can achieve, just with simple images that you can't achieve by showing an object, by comparison. You can't make a cut-away on an object quite easily. You can't create an explosive diagram of an object so easily. And of course, we've got a deep history in making images like this, in different forms. The left side of this image is a medical drawing by Versailles. But this is a very realistic recognizable form of the human skeleton. On the right is an Islamic depiction of the human skeleton. Of course, culturally, they're not, it wasn't deemed appropriate to be representing beings visually like that. So, it had to become abstracted. But what's interesting about this is that the right-hand image is way more useful for a surgeon because it actually depicts all of the information that we know, not what we see. You can't really see the different parts of the skull on the left-hand-one where as the right-hand-one, it's actually very informational. And the same is true here. Using image techniques that mix conventions, we can mix for example here the Descartes image, the figurative drawing of the person, this is someone who is trying to explain hand-eye coordination, and he’s mixing the figurative image with the very abstract illustrative image of how the eye works. And of course, we know, that this isn't what a person looks like and her eyes aren't vertically positioned on top of each other. But it's very useful to be able to convey that kind of invisible meaning that isn't normally present in an image. On the right-hand side, this is motion of course, Muybridge, multiple images. We don't know that each one of these images doesn't have motion but if we look at that set of images we see motion. So, that decoding in peoples' minds is very important. It's also useful to think about the power of adjacency, when you're creating images. This was a very famous photograph which was used to sell the idea of fourth rail bridge before it was constructed in the 1800's. Because something that was incredibly hard to grasp, like how you could have two blokes lift their pal even when their arms were out stretched could be conveyed very powerfully when you create an image like this. And this is what won them the gig. So, this is very nice to think about. When we're talking about immersion, we're often talking about place and space. And maps of course are a big way of describing place. On the left there's a map which was plotted by Chinese people who had to walk from grid to grid to try and figure out, because there was no way of going up into the sky when this was made, back in the 1100's, where everything was in relation to its self. And making a map on the right-hand-side. And this is Da Vinci looking over Milan, thinking about how, what his experience of Milan, how it plots onto a perspective and plan-drawing. So, representing experience in 2D is really, really possible in this way. But of course, like this is 1100. Today we're not just contending with simple decoding of 2D images to represent meaning in this way anymore. We have this. This is a satellite image of the Nasjonalmuseet in Oslo where we've been working over the last couple of years.
But on top of this image we have the street view. We have points of interest. We have pictures taken by the public. You can zoom into one of these pins and have a look at what they saw. You can go into street view. You can go inside the museum and see all of the paintings hanging on the wall. This is the camera that they were using to make these kind of images. And then you can see the paintings themselves and you can zoom right into them and you can see brush strokes. And so, people have a much greater ability to decode and unpack meaning through all of this data that we are used to these days. This rate of change is happening on a huge pace. And so, we have a lot to play with. It's easy to underestimate the capability of humans that actually make sense of a technologically enhanced world in this way. I can flick through those slides in about three seconds, you don't have a bother understanding exactly where I was going and what I meant. I don't think that they would have been able to do that 1100's China. So, not only do we try and represent images like that but of course, the way that the world is depicted in the form of data is changing at a rate of nots as well. This map here by comparison is not made by humans at all. This shows the transfer of data from one note to the next in Facebook servers. And you can see very clearly that it's the world. So, actually computers are getting to understand the world at that scale just the same as we are. On the right-hand-side it shows how a Roomba is navigating a living room. Roomba is one of those robotic vacuum cleaners that zips around under your couch and whatever. And this is the path that it makes as it's learning where things are. And interestingly of course, Roomba hold, I mean, people don't read the small prints so much, but Roomba holds a huge database of data as to the layouts of peoples' living rooms. And so, they're able to predict how peoples', in any given culture, living rooms are supposed to be laid out. We are in at the, we have the ability to draw from this massive data set now that can represent information in lots and lots of different ways. And become useful in AI and all sorts that we've seen already. And what does that mean for us, when we're trying to create experiences and immersion. And how do we cater to that? We heard earlier about the expectation economy. It's interesting to think how this availability of information now has led to an expectation that we are entertained all the time. And entertainment marketing. And being entertained while being marketed to is actually a big part of all of our lives and our work of course. And we love to draw on this case to mind Cedric Price, because also, I'm a cynic too. And the technology's the answer but what was the question? So, actually, why do we think that technology's always the answer to these things? And how do we make sure that we're dealing with physical objects and real experiences. For example, if you're talking about immersion, isn't it true that when I take a walk in the Finnish countryside somewhere that I am at my most immersed, you know. Like is it true that by putting on a piece of some VI goggles, that becomes immersion, whereas I'm in the countryside, it's not? It's not right, but we have to accept I think that when we're talking about immersion in this way we're talking about some form of simulation. About applying constraints to something in order to tell a story that we want people to understand. Create some kind of deeper level of understand.
But if you look at the history of technological immersion, and entertainment, it's really nice to think about it, socially too. There was a time when, if we wanted to be entertained, we would do so with ourselves. We would be the entertainment. Christmas Carrol singing was as much for the people on the step as it was for ourselves. And we don't do this anymore in Britain, that I'm aware. Very few people do. But it just makes, there's no other people in this equation, except for the performers and the receivers. Then there's the sort of like story around the campfire model, where everyone's very present without any form of mediation, we're very much together. Rock concerts are very similar in that regard. It's all about being in the moment. It's all this extremely kind of intense moment of entertainment. And then TV came along. And all of a sudden, we can be looking at sort of a box, sharing the social experience together, but this is decoupled from the entertainer who's providing this to us. This may have been live at the point, but it wasn't very long before this became pre-recorded. And what's interesting here is, that there was a big difference between the live-recorded TV and pre-recorded version of TV. And here's a little video with Kevin Slave and a friend of ours explaining why that was so interesting.
Video: "We're humans. We take our meaning of the world from other humans. We need to feel the audience around us. And for fifty or sixty years, we faked it." "Television starts with some people doing stuff on the stage and there's an audience that's looking at it. And then there's this other audience that's at home that's sort of seeing the signal of an audience watching something happen. In a way it's just theatre at a distance. And that's all well and good until the invention of a couple of technologies that allow us basically to pre-record. And it allows us to tell these much more complex stories than we've ever had before. But it also meant that people who were watching television at that time, started watching something that they'd never really seen before. Which was a form of entertainment that didn't have an audience around it. The idea, that there could be something that was meaningful without an audience to make it meaningful, was so strange. And it was this enterprising audio engineer, a guy who had been doing sonar and radar in the army, named Charlie Douglas. And he had this really kind of crazy idea. He invented the machine called the laugh box." "He would play..."
Speaker: Like just imagine the relationship between audience and entertainer and provide sender and receiver with augmented technology. And we have to create artificial audiences within our interactions to make things seem socially purposeful. Or otherwise create sociability within our spaces and our experiences to make it feel useful and something that we should put our time towards. This is a really interesting example of TV. Back in the fifties or sixties, there was this thing called winky-dink. And incredibly they shipped these kits out which had this acetate which you could strap to the front of your TV and socially interact with the TV by drawing on it. So, there would be a moment at which the person on the TV was like follow my finger on the TV, and you'd draw a line on it. You draw a car out. And then the car would start driving down this animation and you're becoming part of the entertainment yourself. And in a social sense, with your brother or whatever. Although I'm sure the parents hated this when people were drawing on the tellies, which were probably the most expensive thing that they owned. But this is changing all the time. And of course, head phones, the Walkman era, changed this a lot. Very, very much a social disconnect when two people are listening to different music in the same space. And that gets kind of crazy these days. These are two pictures of the Vatican, where the Pope's addressing an audience in two different years, not too far apart, really, but what a different thing. And I think anyone who goes to a gig these days, even the most hard-core like metal gig, you still have people like just watching their phone instead of watching the stage. That's quite incredible to think how this mediation started to take place. And a really nice example of that is this illustration on the front of the New Yorker, that shows this kind of like lovely American past-time, I don't know if it's truly American honestly, but mostly American these days, of trick-or-treating, in which the parents are not engaged at all in this and it's just the kids who are doing it and they're all on their phones. It makes me think very sadly of this headline I read, not too long ago, about the sudden increase in the number of swimming-pool-deaths in Germany. And these people who are, parents, not paying attention to their kids anymore. And it just made me feel very sad hearing that. But then every single day when my child is crawling around the ground I'm like, like I have to force myself to put it down. It's becoming part of our lives in such an entranced way that we can't get rid of it.
So, in some ways we kind of have to accept it. But what does it mean, creating experiences, in which we're completely socially disconnected from each other in today's world. So, these are the kinds of things we're battling with. And it’s kind of interesting to think that actually, there are some really nice examples of how these things can actually work. Like this is a very socially acceptable silent disco that you can have at night in a public place without intruding on anyone's sleep. But also, be very much socially present in that space. And anyone who's done this, it seems crazy, just walk up and you're like, ah, what are these people doing? And then you put the headphones on you're in it with everybody else. It's just wonderful. And of course, the opposite is this, which is the sort of thing that has been taken to an extreme in the film and book of course, Ready, player one, in which there's like a crazy, crazy deep world of immersion in which the real world starts to become something that doesn't matter that much. And we mostly agree, we don't want that. Of course, creating something like that in a museum, is almost impossible. But there are ways to bring out narratives and content in this kind of immersive way that are really interesting. This is a project that was made by some friends of ours called Scatter, in New York, that they made for Tribeca Film Festival. And what they did was, they created a green-screen-environment, to shoot a load of video in subway-cars. And then they re-created an entire three-dimensional physical subway-car-space, from New York, in which you could explore, from a VR perspective and sit down next to and inside all of these discreet kind of monologues of people thinking to themselves. Like, these very disconnected awkward social space. In New York it's worse than anywhere. If you even look at somebody, they're like what... what are you looking at, you know. Actually, it's really interesting to think how technology like this which is at one socially separating can actually somehow, through narrative and content, story, bring people together again. And then you've got the very practical downside to technology like this. This is a project that we did in Dubai, which I'll show you in a second, where we had to figure out how to create a VR headset that was actually robust enough for people to be used and deal with the cultural implications of people who are wearing headdress all the time, not wanting to strap something on their head. They're very real challenges. And one of the things that we've tried to come up with to deal with these social emergent challenge, creative interactions with real human people. And of course, ever since the video camera became something that existed in peoples' homes, the consumption of entertainment has become an act of production as well. And we're very much used to creating Instagram moments and Snap videos and YouTube things, horrible things like that, for ourselves and our friends to enjoy. And that has sometimes become the social element of it. But can we create a social experience which is intrinsically part of the museum itself and how do we do that? How do we create a space that is social? How do we create an exhibition which has collaborative components? And we were approached by Google back in 2011 to... their leg approached us because they loved the way that we mix the physical and virtual worlds.
They said, how can you represent our Chrome web browser to potential consumers? We want them to really understand how fast it is. Can we make a TV add and so on about this, using physical blah, blah, blah? And in the end, through a process of kind of mutual discovery, we figured out that actually, the opportunity wasn’t' in creating a TV add it was in creating a museum exhibition. And so, we proposed this lovely idea, which enabled us at once experience the exhibition on-site, in the flesh physically, and also online. But for the exhibition to be one and the same thing. And what did that look like? So, in order to help understand what this would be like to experience, we created this little stop-frame animation which showed like all of the different components that we were trying to create. And what it came down to, was a series of what we called the experiments, which helped people understand the properties of the internet. Like the strands and the materials that the internet is made of, that enables all of the marvellous things that we take for granted when we simply search for an image. Or we look at an image online. And we want to understand how compression works. So, we created these robots that people could interact with in a creative way to help explain it. And we took this across to the Science Museum in London, who very generously said, listen, if Google are paying for it, then you can do it here. And this is what it turned out like.
This is an exhibition that was in the basement, it occupied the entire basement of the welcome wing in the Science Museum. And it was open for one year. And it was open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, for the whole year online. And it was open for office-hours or whatever the museum was open during the day. So, this used lots of physical component, that were actuated with bits of robotics and motors to really bring to life these creative experiments that we wanted people to take part in. And in doing so, help them participate in the experience and construct the meaning that we were trying to convey in their own minds through creative experience. At the same time as people were doing this in the space, anybody around the world could access the internet and do exactly the same thing online. And they were having nearly the same experience online as they were in the real space. And they were doing so alongside each other. So, for example, this is a sandbot. This is something that was drawing peoples' faces in the sand. And it started with an experience a bit like this, where you had a guy whose face was captured and then it was analysed.
Speaker: And it was broken down. To black and white. It's going a bit slower than what I'm talking at. And then it became vectors and then it was drawn online. So, they got to see how the image was encoded and decoded in that sense. And there was another one which was about creating music through robotics, so you were like composing different parts alongside someone. And everybody, whether you were in Vietnam or Australia, or in the place yourself, were assigned these id's, which was really clever because it enabled people to go online later, show their card to the website and then all of your experiences that you had created were captured in little videos and saved for later. So, you could be in a school later and your identifier which was like completely anonymous, and therefore being able to use by children as well, was able to bring up all your experiences and re-invigorate your relationship with the museum. And here are all of these people flowing into the space online and offline. So, these are the tags that people left. And these are the children interacting with it. Its' nice to think how while creating these creative experiences, we could use paper for people to draw on, but we would've had to use ten million sheets of paper instead of just drawing the sand, which just got erased as it went around. So, there's really nice discoveries that we made along the way. Like seven million visits, lots of different drawing made. And it was just absolutely crazy. And we opened sourced it and we made it doable in Lego and all sorts. So, the museum had an active role in an online community, giving back to the world in terms of opensource. Which probably led to the Smithsonian picking it up and taking it into their collection and awarding us a nice big award. Which we're really pleased of. So, this was the project which attracted me to Tellart in the first place. But it isn't just about hiding technology. Actually, we want to reseed technology, so it's about the content and the experience first. Technology's never the goal. But technology has its faults as well. And what's interesting in this kind of experience is that we can harness the seams in technology to give us opportunities for storytelling too. This is the machine in which you can compose your own piece of music. And this is how it looked online. [Video]
You would think that like Google would be able to show you in Australia in real time the way that you are playing this marimba. But actually, it couldn't. There's this latency that you can't get rid of. And instead of trying to whittle the latency down into a zero and microseconds which is a full zeron, we decided to take advantage of that fault and turn it into a feature and in doing so, teach the people who are using it, that to be in time with the person that they were playing with at the real space, they had to deal with this latency. And that's this kind of stretchy effect that's how long it took to go along. Of course, when you're doing these kind of projects, for us, it's about really inventing. We really want to, if we're dealing with content first and education and experience first, we really want to be able to invent. But it doesn’t' always work. So, this story, which we did with the National Maritime Museum, is one of failure. We had this idea, they wanted to make the biggest map in Europe on the floor and show all of the different stories that existed on the map in terms of maritime history. And we had this idea, we could create an augmented reality version of that, that brought stories up in this manner, that you could see ships and sea monsters and so on. It's a beautiful idea and we've done it in sort of lab environments. But when you consider, this is the space here, with basically a huge faradic cage in the ceiling and giant locomotive steam engine things in the next room, it meant that the compasses that we were using in the tablets, as a part of orienting the tablet so you could do this augmented reality, and this was eight years ago or so now. They failed. And what we needed to realize is actually, we should have pivoted. And what I want to tell you is that there's a... you need to be comfortable with the idea of failure and the idea of pivoting if you're really going to invent any sort of new technology in this way. And what we ended up doing, was trying and trying and trying to make that work. Because the client was so bought into that idea, instead of pivoting. And in the end, we managed to pivot, it did work to some degree, but the most successful things were the things that we came up afterwards, which were these kind of wheeled physical things, that children could play on in this manner. So, like, really by dealing with these kind of failures in technology, and figuring out how to deal with these barriers as we go along, we can discover real opportunity, even if it's not exactly what we had in mind to the first degree.
I'm going to jump to impact and emotion. Impact is really interesting to talk about these trends and how trends affect our lives. This project was the first project I did in Tellart. And it started with being approached by the Prime Minister of Dubai and him saying, we need our government services to be like in the future. We need them to really accelerate. We need some real innovation here. And its' beyond iterative innovation, it's actually, I'm sorry, incremental innovation, we want to make a step change. So, they asked us to create a museum of the future. And its' kind of funny, really. That this seminar is called museums of the future. Because this was the museum of the future. But in a very different sense. Because it was a temporary exhibition which was only on for three days. As part of an enormous government summit in which the most elite levels of government came together from the whole region and talked about how their government could be better. So, in terms of creating impact using trends, and also museums, it really made us realize that there are opportunities for the creative storytelling, immersive storytelling, and technological storytelling, which were at once educational and also provocative and also had a responsibility. And this is a really good example of mixing all of these modes in a way that's also marketing. You know. This is also about selling the idea of Dubai to the world and so on. We can really create, we can change peoples' understanding of what future might hold. [Video]
It was a very academic process. We had to invite a load of subject matter experts. We had to do emergent trips and figure out what it was like in Dubai and how their economy worked. And then we created these walk-through-spaces which were a cinegraphic interactive treatments of what the future could be like in different ways. Just a couple of examples. This is the future of immigration. What immigration could be like when you've got algorithms that are looking at you all the time. And basically, they know all your history already, before you even get there. This would be like a shopping-mall-based health-care gaming experience. Which was a kind of three-dimensional spatial proporeseptive test. So, you could figure out like sort of a way for your doctor to diagnose you through data just by playing games in a shopping mall. Something that we had to create from scratch. Just to convey the idea that healthcare wasn't just about treating symptoms anymore. It was about preventing the onset of illness and so on.
This is another example that we worked with. Where we created this sort of equivalent to the wellness hotel, that this is the wellness cafe, actually, I don't know why that video's not playing. But it was like a cafe that you could go into and you'd be scanned and they kind of like, your online medical health records would bring up the treatment so that the drinks that you were drinking were created in a personalized way to give you the vitamins that you need and so on. And we created this super immersive experience in which people were actually ingesting our exhibition. Which actually was kind of a first for us. And made the security guards at this very prestigious elite event full of royalty and stuff very nervous, because they had no idea what was inside them. They were like you drink it first. So, we did. And here's another whole exhibition which I'm just glossing over but this is about very much about our progress towards a machinic life, one in which artificial intelligence and micro robotics and so on, provide in our every part. And this really showed a progression towards a decrease in agency. Like an increase in trust in the algorithms and the decision's they're making for us in different parts of our lives. And acted to provoke people towards what they think, how the future could be better. We acted upon them in a way like we asked them questions about how they thought the future should be. And then we gave them this future to walk through that offered them all of these speculative products that they could buy. And marketing experiences that talked them into how their lives would be better with these technologies and so on. But it was all about like this whole museum of the future exercise and now, it exists in a crazy building which is being built right now in the middle of Dubai. It's all about provoking people to think more actively about the future that they want to have. So, going further than sort of like, harnessing trends and technologies that we can make more money from, it's really about figuring out for ourselves, what kind of things we want to adopt into our society, in order to make our lives better. And how can these people who arguably have the biggest lever in terms of change-making, that is policy, actually adopt some of this thinking, which is kind of like, walking this crazy thin line between sort of optimistic, provocative, utopian futures and critical, difficult, dystopian futures, like the ones that we don't like. So, it's always about what are they comfortable with. And here's another one about sustainability. Accepting for example that climate change is going to happen. Like, how could we take advantage of that and just accept the fact that our ways of making money and our businesses, in addition to creating wellness and so on, actually might be about creating resilience and sustainability. And that this could be the biggest economical opportunity of our lives.
Like this is a big thing to say in Dubai. Incidentally, during this time, Trump was being elected. So, we couldn’t' have done this in America. But we did it in Dubai, one of the biggest and most polluting, biggest oil-producing nations in the world and most polluting. So just a couple more projects I'll show in the last ten minutes. This last project was all about creating a visceral reaction, that is, immersing people in a story which they could act emotionally towards. How do I feel about my children existing in this future? And this project was a very different story of creating emotion. We were approached by the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam to create an immersive experience to help people unpack the emotional life of Van Gogh. So, that was a really interesting challenge. They didn't want to have any art work at all. It's a traditional art museum, wanting to create an exhibition, which had no art work in, that talked about emotion. A really interesting challenge. And we started with no technology. Instead a very, very detailed map of what we understood, the major events in his life. And what his emotional trajectory was like during his time. So, working very heavily with curators, we ruled it down to this kind of like manageableish kind of narrative of what his life was like during this one year in which he moved to the south of France. And then trying to convert that through our processes into something which would immerse people in a space which had a story. For example, what did it feel like for him in Paris before he left, and why did he leave Paris to move to the south of France? Well it felt enclosing, it felt restrictive, it felt suffocated by the walls and the intensity and all of the people and so on. So, we created a space which has walls which lean in. It makes you feel uncomfortable, like you want to get out. And then when he got to the south of France, and he was really inspired by all of the lush greenery and the sunflowers and the wide-open spaces and the sunlight and gleaming colours of the summer. And so how could we create an emotional experience of that? And going on like when his life started to deteriorate, and he started to lose it and he was having arguments with Gauguin and his personality started to fracture. And he started to lose an idea of who he was, and what success meant to him. And he had this fractured understanding of himself. And then he cut off his ear of course. We called this room sever. And then this sort of, ups... This like, what happened after sever, like this inspiration he got, after he realized that his life actually was a bit of a mess and that he comes to terms with his own mental illness. But, for us, like this is actually, I mean, largely, for budgetary reasons, this had very, very little technology in it. You know, we had the idea in the beginning, that we could make this all singing and dancing and immersing experience like we did in Dubai.
But of course, Dubai is a very different place. They can afford that kind of thing for a three-day event. Whereas the Van Gogh Museum wouldn't. And quite rightly so. But, what's interesting is that technology is as a tool isn't just about putting projectors and interactive interfaces in your exhibitions, it's about creating new processes for design. So, this is a series of prototypes we used to get to what we eventually had in one of the last spaces in this. Largely technology-free experience. And they're all very technology-oriented. These are algorithmically generated computer-designed parametric patterns that were used to create animation when you walked past. So, when you walk through the space, although it's completely static, you get this kind of animation which is sort of storm-like. And there's a lot of embedded prototyping we use as a part of our practice when we do technology, to discover ways to create a dynamic space which is technology-free, that we're really proud of. Even though in the end, it's really not what we're known for. This I think I've got another ten slides, if you can bear with me. This is a nice project completely different. It's not an exhibition project. It's a marketing project that we did. But it shows how, we'll I'll just play it quickly to begin with. This is for Siberian Airlines and a sort of immersive experience in Russian.
So, it was grounded in this idea that your imagination could take you anywhere. And then we created this installation in a shopping-mall which was a game experience in which you had on your head a brain..."where participants use biosensors on their head to fly a virtual plain towards their dream destination. Our brains run on electricity. And by..."
Speaker: So, I'm going to just skip this bit, because then you see the reactions from the people. It was a very tense moment.
[Video]: If you manage to concentrate on your dream destination, the plane flies where it's supposed to go, to your dream destination. "Its' really interesting to think about people dreaming of a place that they want to go that they haven't been to before. Because they'll have to create a mental image of that place, and concentrate on it, for the length of the game.”
What was nice about this one, again for us, technology isn't about, I mean, yes, there is a kind of gimmick in using a device like this in a shopping mall, but in the end, it doesn't matter at all what these people were thinking about. They could've been thinking about milk the whole time actually it made no difference whatsoever. Because this was about concentration and relaxation. But really, when you couple technology with a really strong narrative, and you have the build-up and cinography that supports that, it can create a very emotional experience. And, it's kind of somewhat deceitful but it's true. So, last part is about companion technology and just to mention that like space and objects and authenticity do have a real value. And it isn't really just that emotion is about creating virtual and false experiences, as a way to augment real-life objects with meaningful information, that wouldn’t' be able to be done in other ways. For example, this is an exhibition we did in the California Academy of Science, which reveals how a bee would see. So, you take a look at ordinary flowers. And then we augment that view on those flowers with a set of screens. Which basically just enables you to see through a bee's eyes. And you couldn’t' do this in any other way. It's really, really nice to think about that as an authentic experience with nature, which has been mediated by this companion sort of technology. Or this, which is like real pets with real trainers in an experience which we created for Purina, to talk about how the science behind dog food works. This teaches people something about how animals feel anxiety and stress. And you can look at that through a heat-sensing camera. And this one, which was a really interesting little thing. Just like in simple ways, creating playfulness in the around objects. This is a completely natural plant which we just plugged into an Arduino and you can play it in this musical fashion. And one of our employees had his daughter-in-law, and she was just fascinated by it. You know. You can create these really fun little moments with real objects, just by augmenting them with technology. Okay. So, lastly, I just wanted to mention this idea of emergence. You've probably all seen this? We've talked about artificial intelligence a lot but I'm just thinking about the role that generative creative agents could actually have in the museums. This is Google Deep Dream, which is an intelligence, which looks at lot of objects and then sees things in things. And then it basically represents those back to you. It's always looking for things like lizards and birds and dogs and so on. So, you can feed it an image and it's like, oh, look what its' made of. And it invents stuff. It's really, really powerful what machines are able to do these days. So how can we turn those to our own advantage? This is another example… of Deepack it's called. So, this is a composition made by an artificial intelligence. But it passes of its back after having studied millions and millions of, not millions... hundreds and hundreds of back compositions. How can we really use these things in a way that is advantageous to the people who want to tell stories through content and educate from. This is something we're actively experimenting with. And it's something that we've been doing recently with the VNA. So, this is a sand table that we've been developing for many, many years. Which builds on an open-source project. But it basically is a sort of, it's a building out from our work from Dubai, which is a comment on what kind of future we want. Well, this is a kind of speculative design tool. But it uses this generative means of creating photographic environments by carving the sand in different ways. So, it's studied the Earth and it's studied typography of different satellite images. And it knows that if you reform the Earth in this way, then this is the kind of landscape you can create. And it's fascinating. It's one of the most popular exhibits in the VNA's future exhibitions. And it's traveling around the world on tour with the VNA which is fantastic. But it's really very wonderful to figure out how to employ agents in this way. How can we create story which has meaning and yet is dynamic, beyond what is directly programmed, in the way that the web lab was. This is something which has emergence. And there's all kinds of ways that we're building this out. In a not-judgmental fashion. This is where I'm going to leave you. And it just goes to show, that the virtual and the real just no longer will exist anymore and that these things in terms of immersive technologies are going to change the way that we all do our jobs. Please talk to me. And I'm interested in hearing your ideas. Thank you so much! And sorry for over-running!