meSch Workshop at CA2M: Using Cultural Heritage Encounters to Enact Social Interaction

The meSch team at the University Carlos III Madrid (UC3M) is organizing workshops with cultural heritage managers and students, curators and visitors of exhibitions to understand how they envision future digital encounters with cultural settings. In this post we report on the first workhop at the Centro de Arte Dos de Mayo (CA2M), the centre for contemporary art in Madrid.

The meSch team at University Carlos III Madrid (Interactive Systems-DEI Lab and Institute of Culture and Technology), has organized local workshops in Madrid to involve users in the design of digital encounters with cultural heritage materials or centers. The main goal of these workshops is twofold:

  • to understand how different people envision the future of our digital interaction with cultural heritage, and
  • to identify different practices in the design process, from fast prototyping to embodied narratives to any other options that users find appropriate and are comfortable with to express their ideas.

Visiting Centro de Arte Dos de Mayo (CA2M)

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On April 25th 2013 the first workshop was run at Centro de Arte 2 de Mayo a contemporary art museum located in Móstoles, a dormitory city in the south of Madrid.  Since the museum is in a working class city they are continuously making efforts to turn the museum into an open space for citizens.

The museum had an exhibition of Halil Altindere, who through his pictures, paintings, videos and writings, explores Turkish subconsciousness at the present moment.  The material exhibited invites reflection and discussion as the artist always proposes pieces that can be interpreted in many different ways to push each visitor to establish a personal relationship with them. Such an open exhibition made a perfect context to think about encounters with cultural heritage.

 

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Starting the workshop: What are we going to do?

At the gathering in Puerta de Toledo campus of University Carlos III Madrid participants were introduced to the goal of the workshop: they had to invent an enhanced digital encounter with a piece of the collection they were going to visit.  They were encouraged to be creative and look for scenarios of digital encounters that could be enriching and enjoyable for them or for other visitors, without being constrained by the cost or complexity of their ideas. With our very active participants, discussions about what cultural heritage is and the role of technology already started on the bus to the museum!

Designing futures at CA2M

After visiting the installation and the exhibition, participants were organized in heterogeneous groups and they started to ideate a digital encounter. They were provided with material to craft their ideas and were also invited to use embodied narratives using video recording or any other media they needed to create their stories about digital encounters.

 

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Three stories on using the object as a mediator for social interaction

One of the most surprising results from the workshop was that the three groups decided to design stories in which the object they had selected was somehow enhanced to promote interaction with other visitors of the museum. Might it be for the characteristics of the exhibition, where each piece provokes an interpretation, or for the social nature of the participants, the three stories touched upon the point of sharing with others your own experience as a way to improve the cultural encounter.

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Video about the workshop

We’d like to thank all the participants and specially the CA2M team for their hospitality.

A blog post about the second workshop hosted by the meSch team at the University Carlos III Madrid will be posted soon.