Tales of Things at Museum Next 2012

Claire Ross and Chris Speed from MuseumNext on Vimeo.

Connected Environment from MuseumNext on Vimeo.

Jason DuPonte name checking Tales of Things 38 minutes in.

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From the Western Arctic to the Bay of Bengal

Fishy Tales from Around the World

New exhibition opening on the 20th of October at The Scottish Fisheries Museum, Anstruther, Fife. This exciting exhibition brings together fishing communities from Canada, India, Scotland and Portugal through the use of information technology to explore what unites and what defines unique fishing communities and cultures across the world.

The project has been spearheaded by the University of Dundee where a number of researchers are collaborating in the “tales of things” (TOTeM) project. The researchers have visited remote communities and investigated how they can incorporate technology to improve their lives without sacrificing their identities. Indeed, one of the findings of this project is that identities can be strengthened and valued through the use of technology to record and share their individual characteristics.

The exhibition contains examples of objects, stories and recordings from the communities visited. Visitors can access these via a smart phone as they tour the exhibition (for those who do not have their own, there will be some available at Reception to borrow in return for a deposit).

Sambaa K’e Project Partners:

Scott Hudson and Paul Harrison – Trout Lake, Canada
Sambaa K’e (Trout Lake) is considered to be one of the most traditional communities in the Canadian Northwest Territories. There are approximately 100 Got’ine (people) living in this Deh Cho community. A strong spirit of self-determination coupled with a leadership with vision helps maintain a cultural integrity, sense of identity and an intimate relationship with the land. Hunting, trapping and fishing are still mainstays of the economy and the people of Sambaa K’e are still committed to living life according to Dene principles.

In the late summer of 2010 artist printmakers Paul Harrison and Scott Hudson were invited by Sambaa K’e Dene Band to develop a small print facility in Trout Lake. The aim was to establish a creative tool for the community that would enable residents (and visitors) to visually explore aspects of their culture and relationship to the land. One purpose of this undertaking was to utilise printmaking as a tool that Gavin Renwick could apply within the initial communal design envisioning process of a new cultural facility for the community. A facility which will now also incorporate a new purpose built printmaking studio as a development of the initial concept.
Further invited visits by Paul, Scott and Gavin continue to fuel this collaborative development with Sambaa K’e and nurture further links with Dundee/Scotland – as well as with the Printmaking Faculty at the University of Alberta. The print studio has been embraced by the community and the series of workshops have been incredibly successful – engaging with a broad section of the community and with all age groups participating.

In 2012 the Sambaa K’e print studio has begun to emerge on to the International stage with members exhibiting original print works and supporting material in the FAB Gallery, University of Alberta as part of ‘Counterpoint: The Aesthetics of Post-Colonialism’. Members have also facilitated print workshops at the ‘Open Skies Art Festival’ in Fort Simpson, NWT, Canada and the Studio is now being considered widely as a significant Centre for Print Arts in the Western Arctic.

Scottish Fisheries MuseumThe Scottish Fisheries Museum is operated by an independent charitable trust and tells the story of the Scottish fishing industry and its people from the earliest times to the present.

Exhibition dates: 20 October 2012 – 3 February 2013
Open : Mon – Sat : 10 – 4.30, Sun : 12 – 4.30, last admissions 1 hour before closing
Entry : FREE with museum admission, accompanied children FREE
Location : St Ayles, Harbourhead, Anstruther, Fife KY10 3AB
www.scotfishmuseum.org

The exhibition will be accompanied by a number of events from art workshops to illustrated talks.

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I am Seeing Things Symposium

Sadly our TOTeM research project is nearing the end, www.talesofthings.com will still exist but from December you won’t see many new projects on this site. To mark the culmination of the project we are holding a symposium on the 25th of October at the Talbot Rice Gallery in Edinburgh with some fantastic speakers:

Mark Shepard- Artist, Architect and Researcher, New York
Prof. Mike Phillips- Director of i-DAT, Plymouth
Torsten Lauschmann- Artist, Glasgow
Geoff Mann- Artist/Designer, Edinburgh
Prof. Irene Ng- Marketing and Service Systems, Warwick
Prof. Mike Crang- Cultural Geography, Durham

The symposium is free but ticketed, click on the link for more information and to book a place. http://iamseeingthings.eventbrite.co.uk/

Alongside the symposium we will have an exhibtion featuring work by Dunne and Raby, Geoff Mann, Martin Boyce, Max Phillips, Superflux and Tommy Dykes. If you haven’t managed to get a ticket to the symposium you can visit the exhibtion on Friday the 26th of October from 10am to 5pm.

For more information on the symposium and exhibition visit the project website www.iamseeingthings.com

Talbot Rice Gallery
The University of Edinburgh, Old College
South Bridge
EH8 9YL Edinburgh

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Oxfam Press release

Oxfam launches innovative app revealing human stories behind donated items

Ever wished an object could tell its story? That’s the idea behind Oxfam’s unique pilot scheme, Oxfam Shelflife, launching on 27 February in 10 Oxfam shops across Manchester. The Oxfam Shelflife app uses QR codes to enable the public to discover the stories behind Oxfam’s donated, ethical and Unwrapped products, and even share their own stories for the items they donate.

The project is the latest innovation from Oxfam which promotes sustainability by encouraging people to look beyond disposable consumerism. The stories behind vintage and second-hand items are all part of their desirability. At the moment these stories can be lost when an item is acquired by a new owner but Oxfam Shelflife enables the stories to stay with the items in a more long-lasting way.

Oxfam’s Sarah Farquhar, Head of Retail Brand said: “Every item has a story to tell and Oxfam Shelflife enables people to share these stories. We’ve found that items with an interesting story behind them are instantly more appealing to our customers so we hope Oxfam Shelflife will encourage people to love items for longer.  This commitment to sustainability is an important part of what Oxfam shops bring to the high street.”

The scheme allows donors to ‘tag’ a QR code to their donated object, using the free Oxfam Shelflife app on their iPhone and share the story behind the item for the next owner to discover. Shoppers who visit the participating Oxfam stores can then scan the QR code on the item, via the app, which will take them to the unique story behind the object. Usually QR codes direct users to a website or URL but the Oxfam Shelflife app enables users to engage and interact with the technology, taking QR codes on to a new level.

The concept behind Oxfam Shelflife is based on an original idea developed by the Tales of Things initiative (TOTeM: Tales of Things and Electronic Memory), a collaboration between five British universities: University College London, The University of Edinburgh/Edinburgh College of Art, Brunel University, the University of Dundee and the University of Salford. The TOTeM initiative was funded by a £1.4m grant from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council.

Dr Chris Speed from the Edinburgh College of Art and part of the TOTeM team said: “Oxfam Shelflife has the potential to transform shops from places of consumption into places of stories and reflection. Shopping is no longer about buying things from unknown people in unknown places, instead the Oxfam Shelflife app will allow people to ‘write’ their stories on to products and help prevent them heading for the landfill.”

To find out more about the Oxfam Shelflife project and find a participating shop visit http://shelflife.oxfam.org.uk/how_it_works/

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Scottish Mental Health Arts & Film Festival

A brief reflection on our recent workshops with the National Museums Scotland and the Consultation And Advocacy Promotion Service during the Scottish Mental Health Arts & Film Festival…

Note: rather than show faces of people that we haven’t got permission from we’ve used coffee cups to represent them!

Christine McLean (Community Engagement Manager, National Museums Scotland) had been wanting to develop community engagement work with mental health service users and providers for some time. “Museums can engage vulnerable people and contribute to well-being through targeted projects aimed at cultural inclusion. Museum collections offer opportunities for interaction with objects to find new cultural forms for personal experience.” (Research Summary: Who Cares? Museums, Health & Wellbeing Renaissance North West)

So this year, when Kirsten Maclean of CAPS (Consultation And Advocacy Promotion Service) approached her to discuss the Scottish Mental Health Arts & Film Festival (www.mhfestival.com) it seemed the right time to pilot activities.

The Festival theme this year was Memories which tied in very well with the Tales of A Changing Nation project being developed by Chris Speed and Jane Macdonald of University of Edinburgh (Edinburgh College of Art), tagging objects in Scotland, A Changing Nation with QR codes. In all, around 70 objects in the gallery were labelled with their own QR code, a unique digital identifier which works in roughly the same way as the barcodes used in retail. Visitors with smartphones can download the Tales of Things app, and then use their phone to scan the QR code on a particular object. This links through to the Tales of Things app and website, where each object has its own online entry with links to a host of resources.

The four of us got together and planned two workshops – one where people were asked to bring in their own objects and share stories and a second with the Oor Mad History project participants exploring wider issues of objects, memories and mental health. We had a great turn out both days and generated lots of interesting and diverse new stories, some of which can be accessed on Tales of Things and below:

Making Memories Workshop

These two videos were captured during the Making Memories Workshop:

Oor Mad History Workshop

These four audio files were taken during the Oor Mad History Workshop run by Kirsten at CAPS. The workshop explored issues of mental health and history as part of the larger Oor Mad History project and exhibition. These audio files were inspired by a medicine bottle from the Scotland: A Changing Nation gallery:
Alternative therapy (mp3)

TB (mp3)

Vaccinations (mp3)

Medicine (mp3)

Thanks to:

Christine McLean, Community Engagement Manager, National Museums Scotland & Kirsten Maclean, Oor Mad History, Consultation And Advocacy Promotion Service, and Angelina Karpovich, Brunel University.

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The Thingema and The Memory Mix

In October Jane and I worked with the National Museum of Scotland at their central Edinburgh site to explore a series of extensions to the Tales of Things project. As well as a series of story capture workshops that gathered material in support of the The Scottish Mental Health Arts & Film Festival we also developed two events that questioned the balance of material and immaterial thing’ness as it had been represented to date through the project:

  1. A Thingema: a cinema viewing of films from the Scottish Screen Archive that was accompanied by some of the physical artefacts that the films were attached to, allowing people to write on to the objects whilst watching the films.
  2. The Memory Mix: a cinema event in which the same Scottish Screen Archive films were shown, but were accompanied by a soundtrack of stories of people who recalled their relationships with the artefacts, mixed live by a DJ.

Thingema

The basic premise of the Thingema was to establish a context in which the triad of components that made an artefact meaningful were brought together:

  • the material instantiation of the subject matter eg. the physical sewing machine that represents Singer’s involvement in Scotland
  • the immaterial films that provide meaning to the physical artefact eg. archive film  Birth of a Sewing Machine (1934)
  • people who interpret and potentially add further stories to each object

The event was part of BBC2’s A Reel History of Britain and we used films from the Scottish Screen Archive to look back at Scotland’s history. Films were chosen which related to objects in the Scotland: A Changing Nation gallery (level 6 Museum of Scotland). In the gallery are a variety of objects that have been tagged with QR codes. When scanned with a smartphone, these codes link to extra content on the object including archive films and photographs.

The tags also allowed viewers to attach their own story on to the object via the Talesofthings smart phone app. Visitors to the cinema were given a sheet that described the films on show, with a QR code that took them to the object in the Tales of Things database that lists all of the public stories that are associated with that ‘thing’.

Whilst the sheets became useful indexes to accompany the whole show, the most interesting dimension to the experience was taking the objects in to the show and bridging the connection between the material/immaterial and people.

The Thingema raised further questions about our relationship with particular artefacts that are gaining a greater immaterial presence beyond that of their material carcass. It seems clear that the white sewing machine in the hands of a cinema goer became a ‘symptom’ of the events that were documented on screen and through the YouTube clips online. Overwhelmed by the imagery from the 1934 film and the highly personal stories, the physical thing was rendered far less important, and instead of a thing in its own right, simply a gateway to the rich immaterial media:

YouTube copies of the original Singer ‘Birth of a Sewing Machine’ film and a personal story from Matthew acquired during one of the Tales of the Museum memory capture events.

Memory Mix

The Memory Mix event on the 9th of October brought together the Scottish Screen Archive pieces and the stories from visitors to the museum that we had gathered since working with them.

Tales of Things employed William Aikman as the Memory Mix DJ to mix voices over the following films that were also linked to physical objects:

Thing: St Kilda Tweed / Film: A Cruise to St Kilda (1929). Rare footage of life on the remote island of St Kilda just a year before the islanders were evacuated off the island. Full film depicts the journey from Glasgow to the island via the Western Isles. Produced by Jay’s Screen Service. Silent 7 mins

Thing: Bust of Hamish Henderson / Film: Songs of Scotland (1963). Part of a larger film of traditional songs from Scotland. This clip shows Dolina McLellan and Hamish Henderson singing “Bonnie Lassie I’ll Lie Near Ye’” in a local Edinburgh pub. Hamish Henderson was a Scottish poet and songwriter. Commissioned by Films of Scotland. 2.54 mins

Thing: Casting of a Singer Sewing Machine / Film: Birth of a Sewing Machine (1934). The manufacturing processes involved in making a Singer sewing machine at Clydebank, Glasgow. Full film is 70 minutes long and shows the entire process from castings to packaging the needles. Commissioned by the Singer Sewing Machine Co. Ltd. Silent 8.18 mins

Thing: Hillman Imp Motor Car / Film: Young in Heart (1963). Film showing the making of the Hillman Imp motorcar from conception to production at its factory in Linwood, Paisley. The film offers a colourful insight of the workings of the factory which was built to help recover jobs lost from the declining ship building industry. Commissioned by Films of Scotland and the Rootes Group. 22.39 mins

Thing: ACME Wringer/Mangle / Film: Housewives of Tomorrow (1951). A Domestic Science class as taught in a Glasgow school. Made in 1951 this film depicts very old-fashioned traditional roles for women as housewives; looking after the children, cooking and cleaning. Filmed at Albert Secondary School, Glasgow. Silent 13.33 mins

Thing: Three Columns Statuette by Roy Gussow (Award) / Film: Cumbernauld, Town for Tomorrow (1970). Film about the New Town of Cumbernauld showing the optimism surrounding it at the time. Features the Reynolds Memorial Award, which the architects won for achievements in Urban Design. Commissioned by Films of Scotland and Cumbernauld Development Corporation. 26 mins

A clip from Young in Heart (1963) promoting the Hillman Imp motor car made in Linwood, outside Paisley, alongside images taken in the factory (Film courtresy of NLS Scottish Screen Archive. Music: Freeplaymusic). Beneath it are just three of the stories that were captured on the same weekend that describe personal ‘run ins’ with the car!

The event was attended by 59 people and the mix of spoken personal anecdotes against the historical marketing music and narratives provided a complex temporal mash up. The films were presented in full as historical artefacts, each one situated itself in time with its use of music, colour and fashion, whilst the contemporary personal memories looked back upon the past from the point of view of the present. The mix was complex because you could tell that the story teller was as old as the footage, and somehow this gave each media item an age that you could relate to.

Thanks to:

William Aikman (DJ), National Museum of Scotland, New Media Scotland, Scottish Screen Archives, Edinburgh College of Art. University of Edinburgh and RCAHMS.

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Memory capturing at the Dundee Science Festival

As part of the Dundee Science Festival, Tales of Things will have a pop-up stand at the Family Fun Day this Sunday 13th November. Bring in a favourite object which has a good story and we’ll capture the story using the tales of things platform, giving you a unique QR code for your object. We’ll show you how others can scan the code with a mobile phone and see your story for themselves.

Taking place at Sensation Dundee Science Centre, Greenmarket DD14BQ, from 1 – 4pm, 13 Nov. Everyone welcome!

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Physics Exhibition in Dundee

 

INSTRUMENTAL!

27 Sept – 26 Nov

Lamb Gallery, Tower Building, University of Dundee Mon-Fri 09.30-20.30 Sat 09.30-16.30

This exhibition features a fascinating range of instruments, models and other equipment used in teaching Physics in Dundee from the 1880s onwards. Several of the objects in the exhibition have also been added to the Tales of Things website - smartphone users can access images and additional information by scanning QR codes on the labels in the exhibition.

www.dundee.ac.uk/museum

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Film Times for BBC Reel History at the Museum

Tested out the films in the Museum Auditorium today and they look great! Have to say that the cinema trailer “In the Clear” and “Cumbernauld, Town for Tomorrow” are my personal favourites.

In case you would like to know what time your favourite film is on, listed below are approximate timings for throughout the day.

Time: 11.00, 13.28, 15.55

Film: A Cruise to St Kilda (1929). Rare footage of life on the remote island of St Kilda just a year before the islanders were evacuated off the island. Full film depicts the journey from Glasgow to the island via the Western Isles. Produced by Jay’s Screen Service.

Time: 11.07, 13.35, 16.02

Film: Birth of a Sewing Machine (1934). The manufacturing processes involved in making a Singer sewing machine at Clydebank, Glasgow. Full film is 70 minutes long and shows the entire process from castings to packaging the needles. Commissioned by the Singer Sewing Machine Co. Ltd. Silent   

Time: 11.15, 13.43, 16.10

Film: The Face of Scotland (1938). Examines the question “what and why is a Scot”, clip depicts scenes from WWI and a war memorial at Edinburgh Castle. One of a group of seven documentaries made for the 1938 Empire Exhibition. Commissioned by Films of Scotland.

Time: 11.19, 13.47, 16.14

Film: Dundee (1939).  Film made to celebrate Dundee’s rich industrial heritage, locals explain to the narrator how the city has changed over time. Film was premiered at the British Association in Dundee but had to be abandoned due to the announcement of the start of WWII. Commissioned by Films of Scotland.

Time: 11.37, 14.05

Film: Vital Statistics (1940). Glasgow appointed its first Medical Officer of health in 1863 to combat problems of overcrowding and disease. This film shows the work of the department from housing to schools to monitoring food stuffs. Commissioned by Glasgow Corporation Public Health Department.  

Time: 11.54, 14.22

Film: Future of Scotland (1948). Tom Johnston, the former Secretary of State  for Scotland and founder of the North of Scotland Hydro-Electric Board, talks about the benefits of devolution for Scotland. Clip from a larger film about Scotland’s industry and culture. Sponsored by J. Arthur Rank Organisation.

Time: 11.56, 14.24

Film: Housewives of Tomorrow (1951). A Domestic Science class as taught in a Glasgow school. Made in 1951 this film depicts very old-fashioned traditional roles for women as housewives; looking after the children, cooking and cleaning. Filmed at Albert Secondary School, Glasgow. Silent

Time: 12.10, 14.38

Film: In the Clear (1957).  Tuberculosis was once a major threat to Britain’s health and in the 1950s there was a campaign to get people diagnosed early by getting a chest x-ray. This cinema trailer, starring Jimmy Logan and Stanley Baxter, was made to encourage people to do just that. Commissioned by the National Association for the Prevention of Tuberculosis.  

Time: 12.13, 14.41

Film: Young in Heart (1963). Film showing the making of the Hillman Imp motorcar from conception to production at its factory in Linwood, Paisley. The film offers a colourful insight of the workings of the factory which was built to help recover jobs lost from the declining ship building industry. Commissioned by Films of Scotland and the Rootes Group.

Time: 12.36, 15.03

Film: Songs of Scotland (1963). Part of a larger film of traditional songs from Scotland. This clip shows Dolina McLellan and Hamish Henderson singing “Bonnie Lassie I’ll Lie Near Ye’” in a local Edinburgh pub. Hamish Henderson was a Scottish poet and songwriter. Commissioned by Films of Scotland.

 

Time: 12.39, 15.06

Film: Making bagpipes (1967). Shows the whole process of making traditional bagpipes at Highland Bagpipe Makers who were located on Edinburgh’s Lawnmarket. Commissioned by Educational Films of Scotland. 

Time: 12.48, 15.15

Film: Cumbernauld, Town for Tomorrow (1970). Film about the New Town of Cumbernauld showing the optimism surrounding it at the time. Features the Reynolds Memorial Award, which the architects won for achievements in Urban Design. Commissioned by Films of Scotland and Cumbernauld Development Corporation.

Time: 13.15, 15.42

Film: Pure New Wool (1924) Made by the Scottish Woollen Trade Mark Association showing the production process in the 1920s.

Time: 13.19 , 15.46

Film: Morris Chair (1960) The making of a Morris chair using plywood at their factory based in Glasgow. Produced by Templar Film Studios.

Time: 13.23, 15.50

Film: Gold Star (1971) Educational film depicting welding and making of “Gold Star”, which at the time was the largest ship built in Scotland.

Time: 13.26 , 15.53

Film: Highlands (1971) Clip shows glass blowing at Caithness Glass, Wick. Commissioned by HIDB, British Aluminium Company and Films of Scotland.

All films courtesy of NLS Scottish Screen Archives

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BBC Reel History at the National Museum of Scotland

Join Tales of Things at the Museum to celebrate Scotland’s history through archive films as part of a new series on BBC2 – Reel History of Britain . Some of you may remember that in April we tagged the Museum’s, Scotland: A Changing Nation gallery, with a variety of QR codes. Each of these codes links to extra content on the object including archive films and photographs. On the week end of the 8th of October we are offering a unique opportunity to view films from the Scottish Screen Archive which have been featured in the exhibition. This will be a chance to view the films in full and on a large screen in the Museum’s newly opened auditorium. A variety of films will be shown throughout the weekend such as the making of the Hillman Imp motor car; building of Cumbernauld; industry in Dundee; textile manufacturing and the production of a Singer Sewing machine.

We would also like to hear your views on the films and any memories that they may bring back and the Tales of Things team will be on hand to record people’s stories. These stories will be added to the QR codes in the gallery contributing to the growing history of the objects. If you would rather just watch the films however there is no pressure to take part. In addition to this we will be holding our Making Memories workshop as part of the Scottish Mental Health Arts and Film Festival on the 9th of October 1-4pm (see last post for more details). Any recordings taken during this time will have the opportunity to be part of an exciting performance at Inspace (University of Edinburgh Informatics building) in the evening.

Outline of the Week End’s free Events:

Saturday 8 October

11am-4.30pm Film screening of Scottish Screen Archive films shown all day in the Auditorium

Sunday 9 October

11am-4.30pm Film screening of Scottish Screen Archive films shown all day in the Auditorium See here for a list of films

1-4pm Making Memories Workshop, Learning Centre, National Museum of Scotland

6-7.30pm Memory Mix, Screening of Films with live DJ mix of memories collected from workshops.

 

Inspace Event

Memory Mix

6-7.30pm Sunday 9th October. Refreshments will be served on arrival. Free event.

Tales of Things will be hosting a night of films from the Scottish Screen Archive with a twist. Your memories will be mixed live by a DJ onto the archive films making an orchestra of voices and stories at Inspace. Promising  to be a unique experience and giving you the chance to feature in your own film! 

The films represent a mix of places and people from the New Town of Cumbernauld to the far isles of St Kilda.

Film Titles (all courtesy of the Scottish Screen Archive):

A Cruise to St Kilda (1929). Scenes of life in St Kilda from 1929.

Birth of a Sewing Machine (1934). The manufacturing processes involved in making a Singer sewing machine at Clydebank, Glasgow.

Housewives of Tomorrow (1951). Domestic Science- as taught in a Glasgow School, showing the girls how to be good housewives.

Young in Heart (1963). Film showing the making of the Hillman Imp motorcar known as the ‘Scottish car’.

Songs of Scotland (1963). Hamish Henderson singing one of his songs in a local Edinburgh pub.

Cumbernauld, Town for Tomorrow (1970). Film about the New Town of Cumbernauld showing the optimism surrounding it at the time. 

Location:

Inspace, 1 Crichton Street
Edinburgh, EH8 9AB

Click here to book a place

For more information on any of the events please contact jane.macdonald@ed.ac.uk

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