V&A Connects – with onedotzero

Yesterday evening I went to a talk hosted by the V&A, entitled “Digital Futures: Storytelling in the Digital Domain“. The following is a reworking of my notes from the event, they are still pretty much as I wrote them. Apologies if they don’t make complete sense, typos etc. I’ll add more links later. We were slightly late, the first person we heard speak was…

Andrew Shoben of Greyworld

It doesn’t take much for humans to creatve a narrative. Andrew shows off his work called Trace, at Hampton Court. The point was for people to go in and lose themselves, not to find the centre. Inside there are fragments of sound designed to add to the feeling.

The next project he showed is one they’ve just finished called ‘Words‘. Andrew likes his work to be known as public art, not sound art or any other name you put on it. The BBC came to his company asking for a project and Words was the result. It was designed to see how much a word weighs, e.g. Does the word’s length add to its weight? People were given a box at the installation. As they walk through the box begins to glow, as you walk around the space you realise there are lots of words. You realise in the space you can hear other peoples words (through headphones), words that they’ve left hanging in space. New meanings emerge between your own words and someone elses, they create a third meaning. This project was inspired by the lyrics of David Bowie.

Q. How do you come up with ideas?

They usually come up with them in the space where it will be displayed. The BBC are quite adventurous, but often push the boundaries into technologies that are still developing and may not be able to support the original artistic vision. This project was designed to be rock solid in current technology. It works on computer tracking through visual sensors. Technically it’s not clever, but it’s fulfilling the artistic vision fully. One guy who experienced it said it’s like walking through someone elses dream.

Eva Rucki of Troika

She focusses on the boundaries of technology and design.

One project took a portable projector that was used to display mobile phone text messages on street signs and random objects. Warner Bros. wanted to use it for a concert for the band The Streets. During the concert people didn’t understand what was going on because there were multiple projections. The projectors were trained on any surface, even members of the crowd. They found thst if you restrict people to a format, in this instance a text message, they are much more likely to respond and send texts. The blank canvas scares people.

BA ‘All The Time In The World’

They created an unconventional world clock for British Airways at Terminal 5 (Heathrow). It shows times across the world but by smaller city not the capitals. The idea is to get people travelling in their minds. They wanted to push typefaces, they used electroluminescent material. Their display is very adaptable, they wanted to give it a human touch, it can display caps, small caps, joined up etc. It’s beautiful.

BA Cloud

Individually controllable flip dots, magnetic components. The installation was to be hung in the space between escalators. They compared the space to an aircraft takeoff. It used 7km of wires inside. One of the most rewarding parts of the project: because it was art all the engineers and construction workers who put it in place were cynical, but as soon as it was switched on people started to take pictures and send them to their families, this was important since the art was connecting with people straight away.


Installaton photo shoot. Was an interesting challenge. Troika’s brainstorming process can be random, it doesn’t work to just sit around a table without any ideas, people must come with them and discuss. Their idea was zoetropes. They figured out they could use different spacings between letters to bring different words into focus at different frequencies. This project is featured in the Decode exhibition.

Newtron virus

Uses the drop detector in the MacBook. Brilliant (however if you want to ‘infect’ your computer and have Snow Leopard, at time of writing you’ll still have to wait). Find out more about the Newtron virus.

Enrico Tessarin of New Treatment

He started by mostly talking about Sophia’s diary, a series on Bebo. However, New Treatment are known for an unfinished project called Block X. Cordless show is a project they started a year ago taking a new approach. Sophia’s diary needed a trailer to get funding from brands. They found Sophia was  compelling to the audience because she was average. Lots of teenagers could sympathise with her. Daily video diaries. The story was directed by the audience, she asks a dilemma on the Friday, then what the audeince wanted happened on the Monday.

Block X

Hammer (the horror people) approached him. It’s another online series. The project is still in development. Some ideas for interactivity include: Secret content to your mobile phone; lots of options for game play; augmented reality games. Advertising is really important to this guy. He wants to incorporate brand selling into a made up CCTV control room which is also part of the website interface, e.g. A room sponsored by Ikea?

How do you survive in a world where big brands no longer invest in web shows? Answer, could be a format like the Cordless show. It’s pretty much T4 for the web. Done on an extremely low budget. The show developed a reputation, 30,000 hits per month. Advertisers can’t ignore that. What the Cordless show unique is their branding and interactivity. “The peoples vote” feature on the site. Create your own profile and vote for your favourite performer. A few universities asked for a live version, this brought in money since people will pay for a live performance. After momentum built they got funding from the BBC.

In any web project the first question Enrico asks is why did you choose the web as the medium? If it’s only because you can’t find the funding elsewhere, there’s no point. It’s telling that the BBC and Channel 4 require an interactive plan for any new series or documentary.


Q. Will interactivity with film go any further than it has?

The methods of interaction are very different. Inevitably it will all converge. It only depends on how traceable human behaviour is, that’s where the money is going to be. It depends on the target audience, it’s generational. Young people don’t necessarily watch TV anymore. Cinema will stay as it is. The future is definately interactive. Now that we have computers and networks that can transmit a different film for each cinema screen, there’s potential for more tailored content. The big issue is where you draw the line between an interactive and passive experience. A big thing that’s happening is the semantic web (woohoo, someone mentioned it – this probably links in with the Words project).

Q. Does the message get lost? Are there other pressures from technology and commercial considerations?

(This question was mostly aimed at Enrico since he was adamant that a new project must be get financial backing from advertising). Block X, although highly commercially orientated, the story was very important. Enrico was keen to stress if the story doesn’t stay, he’s prepared not to make his project. Is it art or ‘advertainment’? He’s looking at real world considerations. He runs a company and has to pay wages. However, big brands try to influence content shot by shot. Even as a producer you have to swallow hard.

Q. What about the economics on the web, don’t people expect things to be free?

Bebo made the first web series called Kate Modern. However Bebo Originals has shut down because they couldn’t find advertisers to support them. (Personally I don’t think enough was said about funding models other than advertising. What about paying for the service? What about content in closed networks distribution channels such as iTunes?)

Posted on Wednesday 27 January 2010.

Posted in books, creativity, design, images, marketing, notes, social | 3 comments »

3 Responses to “V&A Connects – with onedotzero”

  1. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by onedotzero, lovebytes and Nick Smith, Ian Wardle. Ian Wardle said: RT @onedotzero missed last nights v&a connects with #onedotzero Digital Futures? click here http://tinyurl.com/yccj2jw [...]

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