HackatH2On - 24 hours programming at the Museu Agbar de les Aigües

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La Mandarina de Newton begun a new project with the Museu Agbar de les Aigües (Water Museum), the HackatH2On!!

On march 21 and 22 at the Museu Agbar de les Aigües, and to celebrate the World Water Day, we organize a 24 hours hackathon. The HackatH2On will take place at the premises of the museum and will bring together creative minds to develop innovative mobile applications with the aim of bringing citizens and the water world, and Museum itself, into close proximity.

This will be an unique event in which developers, designers, museum curators and users will have the opportunity of meeting in one place for a fun and intense session of co-creation, coding and collaboration.

Besides the opportunity to be part of a big creativity event, participants will compete for great prizes. There will be a prize in cash for the best app (3,000 euros), the possibility of a second prize in cash for the second best app (1,500 euros), and gifts for all participants. In addition, apps submitted may be future developed in collaboration with the Museu Agbar de les Aigües.

At the end of the event, programmers (individually or in teams) will present their creations to a jury of experts in museology, communication and apps, and representatives of the Museu Agbar de les Aigües.

Registrations are now open! Places are limited!

The deadline for applications is march 20, at 9a.m. (UTC/GMT +1).

Registration and all updated information about the HackatH2On will be available at the event’s webpage: www.hackatH2On.com.

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Ondarebizia - Participatory Museums Workshop

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This year, the Rezola Museum, in collaboration with the Oiasso Museum, presented a new  project: Ondarebizia. This is a project of cultural heritage awareness and a platform that seeks to open new strategies to link heritage and citizenship, and the professionals of the sector.

Within the framework of this project, a line of actions were planned, called ’Open Session’, aimed at professionals in the museum sector, in order to discuss and share different topics of interest.

On the 15th and 16th of May, at the Rezola Museum (Gordailua), it took place the first ‘Open Session’ with the workshop ‘Participatory Museums’ taught by La Mandarina de Newton (within its line of work Co-Creating Cultures).

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The workshop was divided in two sessions devoted to question and share concepts and trends around the theme of participation in museums. How do we understand the involvement of the museums? How do we manage it? Public and participatory processes? Why? For what?

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Here you can watch the video of the ‘Open Session I’:

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From Interaction to Co-Creation

Some days ago we had a long discussion among several members of A+C+C CoCreation about the differences between the various projects that we have been reviewing.

It helped us to ask ourselves about what characterizes the different labels that are being used by several projects and cultural institutions where new forms of relationship with the public are experienced. We also wondered how the public is no longer a passive element and to what extent each institution or project dares to change.

Each one of the used terms has its difficulties and ambiguitie. Certainly each one can evolve on a different scale. But for the time being, the scale of co-creativity that we present helped us in thinking about several projects and cases. Somehow, we have simplified the scale of participation that can be found in “The Participatory Museum“. We tried to introduce our own vision to go a little beyond participation. At least if participation is understood mostly as the promotion of social relations between the members of the communities around a project or a cultural institution. That is, we go a little beyond the concept of contribution, contributory projects and try to see how to characterize co-creation.

So here are some adjectives that we worked with.

Interactive: These are projects and institutions that promote participation in a limited and predefined way. Much of traditional science museums that were created or renovated between the 60s and the 80s fall into this category. Clearly, this was an important step for museums at that time. A paradigmatic example in the field of science is the Exploratorium in San Francisco. In art, the concept of interactivity is perhaps wider, but it could be identified with a tradition of interaction with viewers. We can book this definition for all projects in which the user does not provide content and reacts to the content prepared by others who are not part of the group of viewers/users.

Open: These would include projects or institutions that intend to show their work processes that are needed to prepare their contents or activities. For example, the MOMA in New York is inviting the public to see the “props” of preparing exhibitions. Halfway between the observation and the collection of interests and needs of the audience, the Liberty Science Center in New Jersey has opened a part of the exhibit design process to users, who may participate in meetings of museum professionals. This could be the zero level of participation.

Participatory: The institution or group leading a project invites participation, with great variability of what is required in this participation. Here sometimes it is worth making a distinction between what is “participatory” and what is “contributory” as Nina Simon remarked in her book. Participatory actions can simply consist in giving opinions, However, they can be more than that and eventually affect the decision making process of the project itself (event, exhibition, etc.): these are the ends of the famous scale of participation of Sherry Arnstein. Contribution also evolves from the simple action of minimal interaction, provision of feedback in the form of opinion, to the contribution of content.

An possible example in the participatory category would be the exhibition organized by Barcelona Center for Contemporary Culture, CCCB, “La ciutat dels horrors” (“The City of Horrors”) where they asked viewers to contribute with photographs of their town that would show some show some “horrific” aspect of it. We have analized this case and we will discuss it in more detail on a future post.

Another example would be the exhibition organized by Mediamatic in Amsterdam around the concept of travel. Mediamatic developed several cycles of invitation and group curation. They created a website on cities around the world, imitating the typical site of a travel agency informative website. They invited local artists of the different cities to act as “guides” in their own city. Travelers scored the artists according to their proposals as guides. This was the basis for selecting an artist from each city to produce an exhibit about his or her city (which should occupy a space of 2x2x2 m in the final exhibition venue). Finally, the  global exhibition was held at Mediamatic. The process was not designed by the participants but by the institution, that is, Mediamatic. Contribution by each artist was done on an individual, apparently there was no much cooperation between artists working on the exhibit of different towns. The institution acted mostly as a promoter of the initiative and as a content aggregator. It was not clear if there was interaction between artists and the public during the process conducive to the final exhibition other than in the “tourist guide” phase.

Co-Creative: In these processes, it can be difficult to tell who is the “public” and who is the institution or the artistic or scientific leader of the project. At the top of co-creativity, the public creates as much as the institution or there is not institution to speak of (apart from the fact that the relationships between the public conducive to the project are a set of norms that can be understood as a temporary institution). The public helps defining the process, its content and its outcome. It is difficult to find fully co-creative projects either in the field of arts or in science. CoCreative processes have some similarities to the processes of meta-design (or P2P Open Design, for example) in which participants (“co-creators”) decide how the process will proceed and then, they join the project playing various roles at different levels of commitment and responsibility, building and providing knowledge in the process. In the project “From contemplation to participation and beyond,” participants co-created the exhibits, but the design process was defined by the leaders of the project. MediaLab Prado has several open formats in which the objective of the project, its process and the contributions are defined by working with the “public.” In these cases, collective creative dialogue is generated.

Traditional institutions are rethinking where they stand in terms of these categories. There is a wide range of response from those who believe that traditional forms of the museum should remain as they are to those who believe that these institutions, both in science and art, must work in more open spaces and weave co-creative relationships with the “formerly called” public. The question is whether or not each institution wants to evolve towards symbiosis (a concept of the A+C+C CoCreation Contextopedia which we will comment in the future), or explore other possibilities in between.

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Credits of photographies:
- Alaskan Dude: http://www.flickr.com/photos/72213316@N00/
- La Mandarina de Newton S.L. 
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Museums are not buildings but processes

An activity. A museum is not the building, not even its collection, although works are the DNA of many museums, a museum is but an activity for citizens, which can be done anywhere. Vicente Todoli, ex-director of the Tate Modern

Vicent Todolí , who was in charge of Valencia’s  IVAM and the Tate Modern with this sentence highlights a very important aspect in the evolution of cultural institutions: the move towards an activity- and the process-centric vuews and also the approximation to citizens.

This is precisely our line of work. We started with the clear idea about  cultural institutions (among which we always had included science and technology museums and center). We think of cultural activities moving from objects as the core to processes and the relationship with citizens. That is why we insist so much in finding new ways of involvement and co-creation and new opportunities to carry them out. A street can be used to explain science. A private home for  inviting audiences to see new theatrical performances. In fact this las idea was one of the projects proposed by participants in the workshops about 2.0  practices for cultural practices that we run in Barcelona and other places.

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