2nd Edition TalentLab: 'Co-Creating a scientific exhibition with the public' workshop summary - 2nd Session

Session two – iteration and integration

The next day, participants came full of new ideas and materials to improve what they had started the day before. They had some time to work on their prototypes and then the iterations started. The interchange of ideas between people of the other groups promoted discussion and also constructive inputs for the proposals. At the same time, it was an opportunity to return to the group with new ideas for their own proposals.

Then, they defined their final projects. The first group summarized their ideas as ‘science expresses but humans interpret it and get emotionally affected’, which sought to identify the creative process as emotions, emotions which in turn change the creative process. It would have two areas, one ‘experimental or creative’ where real experiments (crystallization processes and microbiological cultures) would took place, and the other, a multimedia area with video screenings of the experiments and creations to provoke an emotional reaction in the visitors. This should be built by a team of experts (scientists, multimedia technicians, engineers and technical staff), always keeping in mind the pedagogical aspects of the exhibition. They estimated a total cost of 23.000€.

  

The second group summarized their proposal with the message ‘evolution has no direction and no limits’, highlighting the need to know the past to understand the future. They proposed to build a museum that included an exhibition area with an interactive timeline, and an area of interactive games where the topic ‘evolution of technology’ would be explored. To carry it out, a multidisciplinary team would be required (biologists, designers, journalists, director/manager, volunteers) and the total cost would be 500.000€.

The third group entitled their proposal ‘The Limits of Technology’, which aimed to make the visitor reflect on when should technology be stopped. It would be a virtual tour (holography, 3D, Wii) to explore three topics: health, food and energy. The idea would be to pose dilemmas about the relationship between Nature and Technology. Through the virtual tour, the visitors would be encouraged to reflect and make decisions about positive and negative aspects of each topic (moral, historical, hypothesis). The first part would show the historical facts and the second, the current and future dilemmas. To develop the proposal, again a multidisciplinary team would be needed: programmers, designers, journalists, communicators and scientists. On the basis of hiring 20 persons for six months with an average salary of 2.000€/month, the group calculated a budget of 240.000€.

The fourth group proposed a trip trough the ‘natural inspiration in the technological creation’, considering that nature is a source of inspiration to technology. They proposed a tour through an interactive tunnel with three areas: an ‘inspiration’ zone with visual and auditory stimuli (images and sounds from Nature), a ‘discovery’ zone where the visitor would be presented with examples in which nature was used as a template, and a ‘creation’ zone to generate new ideas in a participatory way. These ideas would be projected in a big screen and the visitor would also be able to continue sending suggestions from home. To carry out this proposal one would need a team made of scientists, designers, programmers, graphic designers, and explainers. They estimated a total cost of 200.000€, but with the possibility to adapt the proposal to a less expensive, but still interactive, format.

  

Finally, the fifth group suggested to explore ‘the two faces of technology’ in order to raise public awareness of the benefits and drawbacks of technological progress, and also that the accessibility to technology is a determinant parameter of human quality of life with a strong effect on the opportunities that one can have. They proposed to create a tablet game (or a cardboard one) in which the players would have to create pairs of opposites related with different technological advances, focusing on six key topics. Additionally, with open questions, the participants would be encouraged to share their opinions and ideas about these topics, and stimulate transformation and change. The group did not estimate how it would cost to produce this interactive module, but they underlined the fact that it would be adaptable to a wide range of budgets.

Once all the groups had presented their proposals, we challenged them with a last exercise where they had to integrate all or some of the proposals into a single one, by finding a link between them. The intention was to identify the similarities, complementarities or differences between them. From the different possibilities, the groups suggested to integrate the first and fourth proposals as they highlight the aesthetic and emotional aspects of the creative process. They also mentioned the possibility of merging the second, third and fifth proposals to explore the role of technology in our society in a more complex way: the different faces of technological evolution and the need to define its limits.

  

The workshop was a way to reflect on the complex relationship between technology and nature and their role of society. At the end of the session, it was clear that there are many ways to translate these topics into exhibitions, but it was also clear that there are an obvious interest by the public to participate in the creation of contents. From the proposals generated in this workshop, the idea is now to keep working and exploring the nature-technology duality, with the help of new collaborators, in order to translate the results into a real exhibition.

This activity was also a opportunity to explore some innovative working dynamics that favor participation and interdisciplinarity, but also an opportunity to establish new networks of contacts, or worknetting (first work together, then connect the opposite to the much abused “networking”), as Irene from La Mandarina de Newton said. We hope this workshop will be the beginning of a new line of work for CSIC (Catalonia), open to everyone.

You can find more photos in our facebook page.

For more information you can also check out the website of TalentLab.

—————–
Laura Valls. Unitat de Cultura Científica Delegació del CSIC. 
Irene Lapuente. La Mandarina de Newton S.L.

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