CaixaEscena Pedagogical Kit

 

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CaixaEscena and La Mandarina de Newton have been working together with the aim of creating a pedagogical kit that could be used as a new and innovative tool when sharing and educating dramatic arts topics in the classroom. In order to do so, we found it essential to have the collaboration of theater professionals and teachers from other disciplines during the different phases of the process. For that we have organised three co-creating sessions with professionals from different areas of Spain.

These sessions started in Murcia (January 24) and this first workshop was a meeting for brainstorming and ideation. There was an interesting discussion on how theatre can be helpful for academic performance, the generation of debates and the personal growth (improving the self-esteem and the perception of others). Nearly a dozen participants assisted the workshop and it was really inspiring.

The second session took place in Madrid, on February 20, and it focused on the prototyping process. Ten participants nailed down the ideas generated in Murcia, added the online proposals, and all ended up combined in two different kit prototypes.

After these two workshops La Mandarina de Newton worked on the two designs proposed by the participants and was able to integrate both of them into a single prototype kit.

Finally, the last workshop was held in Barcelona, on March 20, and the attendees tested this prototype and gave feedback and new ideas in order to improve and extend it.

Now, with all this material, and with the help of theater experts and specialised designers, we will keep working on the prototype in order to achieve the final design of the CaixaEscena Pedagogical Kit.

We’ll keep you updated on our progress!

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A weekend of transdisciplinary dialogue and creation at Hangar: Synergy

The last week of June we participated in the workshop Synergy: Interdisciplinary Practice and Theory, coordinated by Simon PennyRoc Parés and Mara Balestrini, within the GridSpinoza program organized by Hangar. The two and half days of the workshop were very intense and interesting. We brought together interests, methods and projects.

To us it was great to deal again with some of the questions that we posed about transdisciplinarity in the Common Grounds workshop of 2011.  At the time we followed a prototyping process. In Synergy, 2013 we followed the method of work that the workshop organizers  articulated around sharing and dialogue.

The workshop pursued the sharing of projects and ideas but also the creation of a protocol for the development of transdisciplinary projects. In this regard there were very enlightening interventions of each one of the three coordinators (Simon Penny, Roc Pares and Mara Balestrini) about how they felt  about transdisciplinarity, its objectives and its working methods.

Simon Penny approached the value and challenges of transdisciplinarity from a general perspective but remarked that transdisciplinarity is a process framed in social and historical contexts. What today is considered a transdisciplinary program, tomorrow will be an established discipline. He stressed the combinatorial  aspect of transdisciplinary work pointing, for example, to the translation of methods from one discipline to another. He also remarked the problems posed by the difficulties of communication and the need to play with the different languages ​and practices of each discipline that conrtibutes to a project.

Roc Parés approached his contribution from his experience in the intersection between art, science and technology, particularly new media. He stressed the opportunity to look in places where there is still no intersection between disciplines, and to delve into them to come up with new possibilities.

Mara Balestrini take on transdisciplinarity focused on her experience at the intersection of new technologies, the city and citizen engagement, a perpsective we can easily relate to. She shoed examples of projects where the use of mobile technology and the Internet in public spaces generated authentic engagement. She also shared her recent work on aspects of interaction between strangers in public spaces and its consequences.

During the following two days all participants described their own projects and then all of them worked together as transdisciplinary possible to create new proposals.

We came to Synergy wanting to know  about new methods but ended up opening up and morphing a little our project on internal contamination and joining in other project based on the concept of mistakes in general and science in particular and the role of misatkes in culture. We will describe this in more detail in future posts. In any case it was a very rewarding experience to know about other collaborative approaches from different disciplines. We left with very good connections and new potential partners.

A very good initiative.

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Critical Design Cycle: summary of First Participative Workshop about Internal Contamination

Last Friday (March 1, 2013) at the Mandarina Space, we had our first participatory workshop to give shape to the participants’ ideas about Internal Contamination. As you know, this topic was presented by Dr. Miquel Porta (18/01/2013), an internationally recognized researcher and an expert on the field and after his presentation a first debate took place. The goal of friday’s session was to begin a process of critical and speculative design around the concepts and ideas that popped up during that talk.

The workshop, led by Ramon Sagüensa (La Mandarina de Newton), began with an inspiration exercise for the participants. We challenged each of them individually to complete the question ‘What if …?’ with ideas, questions or concerns that came to their minds, related with the topic Internal Contamination. They had to reflect on the positive and negative aspects of it. In just 10 minutes many ideas were generated: What if we changed our lifestyle (if we stop eating meat, if we abandon the urban lifestyle), What if we could measure in detail our internal contamination levels, or the levels of toxics in the products we consume?, What if we could eliminate the toxics of our body, if we could recycle or metabolize them?, What would happen if there existed a region in the world without contamination?, What if contamination were something good for our health, if it could expand our live expectancy? What if internal contamination levels were visible? … and much more!

   

This individual exercise was the starting point for the actual teamwork. Now, participants discussed together these ideas and the dilemmas created by their interplay. For that, they stuck the post-its on a panel and, with the participation of all, reorganized them by topics or concepts. Eventually, an agreement was reached and several clusters of ideas emerge: food, communication and information, utopia, methodology, and disposal of PTCs (persistent toxic compounds). From here, each participant chose the topic that found most interesting and in this way the working groups were formed (four in total).

Then, we started the ideation phase. In each group, participants discussed and identified the ideas they wanted to explore. With the working ideas defined, the participants began to give shape to their proposals and build their ‘prototypes’.

   

The first group, who had chosen the topic ‘Food’, devised ‘The BNQ – The Body Whitening’. They proposed a treatment to ‘withen’ the body internally. With an amazing pill one would be able to clean the body from internal contaminants and this would be reflected in one’s outward beauty: ‘Clean on the inside, beautiful on the outside’.

The second group, based on the topic ‘utopia’, proposed a comics/animation campaign – ‘PTCs Superpowers’ – in which the stories would revolve around a family of characters who had superpowers due to the accumulation of PTCs in their bodies. The third group, who chose the theme ‘elimination of PTCs’ created ‘Sintox’: a set of pills developed by a pharmaceutical company (‘Mandarinartis’) and marketed to a fairly high cost, but that would be able to eliminate completely all your internal toxics. Finally, the fourth group, inspired by the topics ‘information and communication’ and ‘methodology’, proposed a next generation device, the ‘Anxiety Machine’. This product would be comprised of a pill with a PTCs’ sensor that you would swallow. Travelling through your body it would detect your internal levels of PTCs and transmit that information to a square-shaped personal and portable device.

This device would then show the toxic results, identify the most likely diseases that one would develop as a consequence of the level and type of contamination, and it would also offer an option to share the results within a social network (a kind of facebook with the contaminants’ profile of each user).

During the presentation of the proposals, there was also an interesting exchange of ideas and suggestions between the groups. It was Friday evening and dinner time was approaching, so we had to end up the session. Once again, we received a very positive feedback from participants, an extra motivation for us to continue organizing these kind of brainstorming, creative and multidisciplinary co-creation sessions.

This was the first workshop within the Critical Design Cycle about Internal Contamination. We will continue working on these proposals on the 5th of April (Friday), 19:30 at the Mandarina Space (as always, we will create a registration form on Evenbrite). Remember that these sessions are free and open to all of you willing to participate. And not just for those that came to the previous sessions, but to anyone interested and eager to share their ideas in a co-creative way.

We will keep you informed!

Remember that you can check the summaries of the past sessions of the cycle in our blog and the presentations’ videos in our Youtube channel.

You can also find all the photos of the workshop in our Facebook page.

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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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2nd Edition TalentLab: 'Co-Creating a scientific exhibition with the public' workshop summary - 1st Session

The fourth and last workshop of TalentLab II (21 and 22 of February, 2013) at the Residència d’Investigadors (CSIC Barcelona). With this workshop we began a new line of work, open to the public, with which we aimed to explore and define the guidelines for a future scientific exhibition inspired on the duality nature-technology. This time, the work process was developed in two sessions and the different groups of participants evolved throughout the two days. The participants were interchanging groups according to the dynamic of the sessions. Therefore, when we refer to a certain group, remember that they are not always formed by the same people.

Session one – inspiration and conception

The first session began with a reflection on the nature-technology duality. Frequently, when we think about ‘nature’ and ‘technology’ we immediately associate them to pre-conceived images or ideas, and we also see them as opposite terms. Is this true? Is it easy to define in crisp, clear terms what is ‘natural’ and what is ‘artificial’? If this is not the case, why are we constantly opposing one against the other? After being prompted with these kind of questions to spark a debate, the participants divided themselves in groups. Getting inspiration from printed images. they discussed about the boundaries between nature and technology.

From these provoking exercise, the first group, inspired by a picture of huge tree roots encroaching the ruins in Angkor Vat (Cambodia), emphasized the idea that ‘in the end nature always imposes itself’. They also mentioned that nature offers us technology that can be mimicked by humans (picture of a beehive). They referred to ship transport as an example of globalization due to the technological advances, and the positive (cargo transport) and negative (transport of invasive species) aspects we all should evaluate. In this sense, they also commented on the role of technology in improving life’s quality, in contrast to its use for war.

The second group mentioned nature as an inspiration to develop sustainable technology. From a picture of a earthquake they raised the idea of ‘re-thinking’ technology from the observation of nature.

co-crear 014    co-crear 013 

The third group remarked that, although globalization have enabled the access to more resources (goods), we have to be careful about the over-exploitation of nature. As an example of the contradictions of the globalized world (and at the same time, of the hybridization of nature and technology) they mentioned the fact that some fruits and vegetables that reach our supermarkets may have been collected more than a year ago and they just maintain their aspect due to anoxic treatments. The group also highlighted that technology should be seen as an ally.

The fourth group said that ‘we are technology’. From an image of a stone, they emphasized that nature is not a static thing, it is in constant change. Contrary to what the first group highlighted, they argued that nature does not have to impose itself, simply because there is no confrontation. They remarked the idea that technological knowledge has no control over everything, over nature, although it is a widespread idea. They also mentioned the need for ‘coexistence’. A picture of a Eduardo Kac’s installation where two girls look at a live microcosmos, suggested to them ‘curiosity’ and ‘control of nature’.

Finally, the fifth group, inspired by the order in a container ship and the disorder of a landfill site, highlighted the opposite ideas of order and chaos. From another image which depicted the use of DDT in the past, the group reinforced the idea that one cannot predict the consequences of the use of technology, reinforcing the point of view of the fourth group, i.e., that one cannot have control over everything. Finally, they also mentioned the topic of patents. They questioned if it is right to consider nature as an ‘invention’ and therefore, to grant exploitation rights to the companies so that they can manage natural resources, such as water.

From all these ideas, participants then wrote down in post-its the ideas they considered most relevant and hung them on panels. The next step was to, altogether, reorganize the ideas into topic groups. The participants ended up with six groups: inclusion-exclusion of technological knowledge, food, limits, evolution, natural models, and creation and emotion. Then, each participant chose one of these topics and from this self-selection, new working groups were created. In order to maintain five groups, the topic ‘food’ was incorporated in the ‘inclusion-exclusion’ one.

In order to start narrowing these general ideas, we used a creative method called ‘brainwriting’, in which everyone works for everyone. First, each participant wrote down three specific actions for each of the topics, in a complete and concise sentence. The worksheets were passed through all the members of each group and this activity generated 250 proposals. Then, individually, everyone voted the ones they found more interesting. For the topic ‘Natural Models’, participants highlighted the proposal of displaying tools and materials inspired by natural morphologies, Gaudi’s art style, natural architecture found in flowers, and industrial products inspired by nature.

For the topic ‘Inclusion-Exclusion of Technology’, participants voted for a proposal which consisted in exhibiting photographies that bring to light this contrast or, alternatively, images that are not what they look like; they also voted for a world map to show where the different technologies are created and where they are used, and also proposed an activity to discuss the topic of the exclusivity of the patents regarding nature and food industry.

For the topic ‘Creation and Emotion’ they chose an activity that would put the visitor in the place of a person with sensory disorders: a fear module where the human reaction to different problems would be put to test, a role-playing game to explore how it would be to live without technology (in order to realize that actually we are surrounded by technology), a soundtrack inspired by nature, the reuse of obsolete technology.

 

For the topic ‘Evolution’ they voted for a representation of the brain in which the different parts would be illuminated to show how evolution took place throughout species, a showcase with the different tools that humans used through evolution, a representation of the mass production of food, to show how objects evolved (feather pen to ball pens, rock to high-tech tablets). Also they proposed to exhibit photographs of the same place throughout the years, and to show one object/invention and how it evolved through the years and in different ethnicities.

For the topic ‘Limits’, the participants chose a proposal to bring the attention of the public towards the ethic problems related with biotechnology, an interactive game to highlight the limits (ethical, technological, etc.) of different topics, a representation of a brain of an elderly person as a symbol of our limits, and an activity to discuss about the exportation of waste by showing a mountain of waste as a way to represent human consumption.

 

From these ideas, the groups had to define and work on a specific proposal. They had some time to clarify ideas and narrow the options. Finally, late in the afternoon, we saw the first 3D prototypes.

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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Critical Design Cycle: summary of Miquel Porta's Presentation

On friday, January 18th, Dr. Miquel Porta, an internationally recognized researcher and an expert on the field ‘Internal Contamination’, was at the Mandarina Space to lead a debate within our Critical Design Cycle.

We discussed about the different aspects of this complex problem that affects our society. ‘We are all contaminated!’ highlighted Miquel Porta.

The existence of persistent toxic compounds in our bodies is a reality. We may not all be conscious, but we ‘ingest’ contaminants when we breath, eat, drink… Needless to say, the presentation generated an interesting debate between the participants. In the end, we challenged them to reflect on the subjects discussed and to write down in post-its the positive and negative aspects of the topic, their doubts, worries… Very interesting ideas came out! We will now continue to work on these ideas on the next activity of the Critical Design Cycle, which will take place on March 1st. It will be the first participatory workshop of the cycle with which we aim to begin a process of critical and speculative design based on the ideas that arose during this talk.

Remember that you can watch the full presentation of Miquel Porta in our YouTube channel. Here you have the first video (of six):

In the channel, you can also find the presentations of Roger Ibars and Lisa Ma, the two designers that we had the pleasure to have at our space in December. They discussed the concepts behind critical and speculative design.

Check all the photos of the session in our Facebook page.

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Ideation and creation of scientific videos Workshop at Santa Monica Arts Center

Science of the City promotes a different view of what science is and where you can find it in a city. Science of the City encourages participants to make a two minutes video relating science and cities. Videos can be a question, a finding or a scientific experiment. These videos will participate in an international competition with 8 different prizes.

We have organised an ideation and creation workshop, tomorrow 22nd of june at 4pm at Arts Santa Mònica. During this workshop we will propose questions and experiments and look for places where you can shoot your videos. We will sketch the script and start filming. You can bring your cell phone camera or your own camera.

You do not need any prior knowledge on science or video, but if you want to join us, please confirm your attendance by emailing irene@lamandarinadenewton.com. See you there!

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