Today, we went on a trip to London to visit the Science Museum. It allowed us to further understand media spaces and to see how different people behave within public spaces. Due to our project being an interactive piece, I focussed on exploring the interactive media pieces and how audiences engaged and understood them. Due to the fact it was a museum, it was clear that the people were looking around and engaging at the various pieces and artefacts. However, due to my project being based at University, I have to find ways to ensure people look and hopefully interact with my piece.
I observed that there was a vast range of different ages of people present, but would argue that majority were children there on school trips. Within the museum, there were only a few interactive pieces as the majority were historical and scientific artefacts. However, I feel that the interactive pieces seemed to engage more people, due to their appealing visual aspects. I found that the older people in particular seemed to be more interested in reviewing the more historical artefacts, and weren’t as interesting in the interactive pieces. I found it was the children in particular who engaged with the interactive pieces, of which they seemed to find very entertaining and fun. This highlights how different age generations engage with things different, dependent on their own experiences. It is clear that some older people may not be as experienced as the younger generation with using all these new technologies, but it is important to also be aware that sometime are assumptions can be challenged.
The interactivity was mainly incorporated through touch screens and buttons, as well as a movement based interaction in the Who Am I? exhibition. From observing people engaging with the interactive pieces, I noticed that children seemed to think that everything was touchscreen. They weren’t really engaging with the true concept, rather they were playing with friends, pushing buttons as fast as they could and touching various things on screen in the hope that something will happen. Throughout the museum there were various information touch screens to support the historical and scientific artefacts. However, I found that these were only used by those wanting to find out further information about the artefacts. Due to children growing up with the revolution of touch screens, most children seemed to depend on pieces being touch screen and weren’t as aware of other interactive features. For example, in the Who am I? exhibition (image on left), some children didn’t realise what the interactive feature of piece was and just saw it simply as a white wall; it wasn’t until someone stepped onto it that they realised it’s interactive and therefore they decided to engage with it. This piece stood out most to me, the multi-coloured particle objects follow peoples footprints and then reflect their movements visually on the screen. I like the interactive idea of this piece and similarly I plan to use motion and objects within my interactive piece. This has highlighted to me that it is important that my piece is easy to engage with and that it doesn’t require lots of prior technological knowledge in order to interact with it .
Another piece that stood out to me was the ‘Do Not Touch’ piece that appeared to give slight electric shocks to people. The idea behind this is to do with reverse phycology, the ‘Do Not Touch’ label on the floor around the piece in fact encourages people to touch the piece of which is intended. It also shows how peoples can behave in various ways, go against orders and it is extremely hard to assume how different people will behave. Although I noticed that the majority of children touched the piece which was the intention of it, there were a few that saw the ‘Do Not Touch’ and didn’t understand why people were touching it and so told them not too. From this, I have understood further that even people of a similar age will behave in different ways, of which I have to take into account for my piece. Although, the majority of people who see my piece will be students of similar age, they will all behave differently based on their own background and experiences. By going to the museum and observing the behaviour of people, I have learnt more about interactivity with public spaces. Most of the interactive pieces present in the museum don’t require a high amount of knowledge to use and this has made me realise that simple pieces can be just as successful as they are easy for all ages to directly and freely engage with. Linking this to my idea, I feel the piece will be easy for anyone to engage with, no matter how long they want to spend in the space. I have further learnt that the behaviour of people is very complex and even though I have studied my public space and the typical people, anything could happen and peoples behaviour can alter at any point.
When walking around London, we came across an interactive advertisement for Alcon contact lenses called ‘The London Stare’. We saw it displayed at a bus station and it encourages people to compete in a staring contest with a person on the screen. It displays whether you win or loose and then automatically prints out a contact lenses voucher. I found the piece quite interesting and more engaging than simple print advertisement which you see displayed all over London. Although due to it being at a busy bus stop, people seemed to notice it but were embarrassed to actually engage with it. However, after we engaged with the piece, we noticed a lady then interact with it. From this, I have learnt that some peoples actions can be influenced by other people. Therefore, if someone sees someone else engaging with my piece when it is in Weymouth House then hopefully it’ll influence them to engage with it too. This idea is quite a simple concept, which again has taught me that sometimes simplicity can actually be just as good or even better than complex ideas.