Our second meeting as a group for the Hepworth Wakefield Creative Labs project saw us building on the broad ideas that we discussed in the first week and trying to shape these into a project.
We were looking at way of opening up the gallery experience, trying to remove the physical boundary of the gallery itself in order to put interaction with the artworks themselves at the highest level of priority. Here are some of the key questions that we considered:
Is this project about targeting an audience?
Are we trying to make the gallery more accessible?
How can we find a way to allow people to engage without dumbing down the experience?
To summarise some key points of the meeting, we decided that the gallery itself creates a boundary, and that in order to make the interaction with its contents as universal or non-biased as possible, we needed to try and come away from the idea of a gallery as a physical space, or in other words, bring the gallery to the people rather than bring the people to the gallery.
We considered exploring the web as a medium in which to do this but decided that the two forms of sensory feedback given by the web (visual and sonic), wouldn’t suffice for the level of interaction that people should have with the collections. The other issue is that a web-based project does not provide a platform for passive interaction.
We decided that aspects of the gallery could be taken to different locations around Wakefield (such as disused shops, shopping centres or outside locations) in a ‘removed form’, whether these be projections of artworks, sounds from the gallery, or tactile objects referencing the textures of artworks. These would incite different types of interaction with aspects of the collections from regular members of the public, meaning that the physical boundary of the gallery could be removed, and that interaction with artworks needn’t be prescriptive (determined by a curator or the shape of a room), but rather could be inclusive.
Importantly, people, in interacting with these removed forms of artwork would complete a loop, where their interactions would be transferred back to the gallery in some form. This information might take the form of audience feedback relating to experiences of the artwork, an abilty to transform the appearance of artworks by virtually drawing on them, or simply metadata about quantity and type of interactions.
Crucially, interaction with these removed artworks would be tiered so those who encounter them can interact as much or as little as they like, from a minimal interaction such as observing something, to a moderate interaction, such as engaging with a game of some sort, to a high level interaction, such as scanning a QR code to find out more information about a collection or artwork.
We also established that game and play is an important element. The sites, be they old shop fronts, or parts of a shopping centre, where people experience the collections in ‘removed form’, must be engaging and playful. There must also be a sense of anarchy, allowing people to challenge the concept of the gallery, and in doing so, help us learn about what galleries are and could or should be.
Below are diagrams of how ‘removed forms’ of the artwork might interact with the people of Wakefield and the gallery, and the feedback loops that this process might create.