Festival of Museums 2015

McManus shackleton event

This Saturday sees the return of the Festival of Museums (#FoM2015) across Scotland. Last year was brilliant – recreating Victoriana in the McManus, Dundee’s Museum and Art Gallery. It’s everything that is great about being in a museum late at night with actors bringing historic characters back to life and activities and workshops designed for our guests to learn while having lots of fun.

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My job last year (above) was to recreate the Victorian Photo Booth with a 21st Century digital spin (read about it here). Playing the role of local photographer and lens maker Peter Feathers I captured and shared (very hi-tech) moving pictures by way of Instagram.

audioboom

This year we we have been inspired by Edwardian Britain being the era of the postcard. Again, we wanted to add a ’21st Century’ spin to the proceedings and so we are using AudioBoom – the digital platform that allows you to capture and share audio on the move.

Postcards were quite limiting back in Edwardian times – probably closer to the modern day txt msg, or Tweet. But AudioBoom is so much fun and the prospect of listening back to the recordings over time adds a ‘time capsule’ element to the event.

So, who would you like to send a message to? And what would you tell them? Or imagine sending a message to your older self, 20, 40, 60 years from now – what would you say?

Edwardian Dundee

So join us on Saturday at The McManus, from 7 – 9pm. Send a digital postcard, take in some live old-time music hall, visit the Suffragette print workshop or have a chat with some Edwardian characters…  the evening is FREE but booking through Eventbrite is required – go here for more details and how to book.

And if you’re too far away you can follow the activities from McManus and across Scotland using the hashtag #FoM2015 and follow the progress of our AudioBoom channel (mcmanusdundee) playlist here (login required).

Finally – don’t foget to check out what we got up to last year!

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GENERATION evaluation

Design processes are often seen as being immeasurable. Maybe because ‘designers’ believe the impact is obvious – “Look how happy they all are?!” (etc!)

When it comes to using the design process in the context of ‘business’ then the bottom may well speak for itself. However, if design is going to be taken seriously in areas where the bottom line is neither financial nor a product on a shelf then it is up to the designer to find ways of demonstrating the value in the things we find most meaningful.

So how DO you measure the impact in a story?

GENERATION:
25 YEARS OF CONTEMPORARY ART – Co-production Projects

I ran a workshop in Glasgow last week to demonstrate an evaluation process I had developed. GENERATION have run a series of co-production arts projects across Scotland for young people. We wanted to carry the co-production ethic through into the evaluation and capture meaningful reflections on the process – and capture them in a way that would demonstrate the impact the projects had had.

The process I designed is based on storyboarding methods usually used in idea generation. Instead I used the storyboards as a means of reflection – documenting an individual’s story or journey through the project. I’ll get into the process in a moment but firstly, here’s a film of how it went down…

When evaluating projects the challenge is gathering QUALITATIVE feedback that can be QUANTITATIVELY measured. To achieve this I devised a method of rating stories against their relevance to the impacts defined by GENERATION. The impacts are areas of development and learning that GENERATION set out to achieve through the various projects. The impacts are: Skills, Confidence, Relationships, and Positive Progression).

In addition to these impacts we also agreed to look out for other common themes that were identified as being important to the young people through their feedback.

GENERATION - Big questions

Above: One of the BIG questions – five questions around the room that helped warm everyone up for the tasks ahead.

Below: Time lapse film of the Big Question session.

My evaluation process was to be delivered to the participants (young people) from each of the projects by the artists and educators (practitioners) who had worked with them throughout the project. But first the practitioners needed to be experience it for themselves – this was the purpose of my workshop. I would help GENERATION evaluate the practitioners experience by using my process and at the same time they would experience it in preparation for delivering it themselves back at their own projects.

The Process
It was important to me that the rating didn’t devalue experiences that didn’t appear to meet the impacts – it was important that the young people shared their story in their words, in their language. It was up to us to find what we were looking for.

For example: If a young person told us that they had made friends as a result of attending one of the programmes and that they enjoyed making things for this exhibition that they had never done before, then we tagged that story with relationships and skills.

During one of the project evaluations several young people told us that having somewhere [the studio where we met] away from school to be creative was important and this was identified as an additional impact.

So the young people were not made aware of the impacts before we gathered their stories because it was important that the stories were authentic and not influenced by the targets of the project.

We wanted their story, from their perspective and in their words.

GENERATION partners

ABOVE: TO IDENTIFY WHO-SAID-WHAT WHILE STILL HAVING THE FREEDOM TO HAVE FEEDBACK GATHERED TOGETHER WE GAVE EACH PARTNER PROJECT THEIR OWN COLOUR OF PEN. PARTNERS INCLUDED ‘THE NATIONAL GALLERY’, ‘MCMANUS’ AND THE ‘DUNDEE CONTEMPORARY ARTS’.

I devised a simple matrix to gather impact summaries of the stories. This was simply a grid with the person’s name and a box for each of the GENERATION impacts and another box where we recorded additional impacts and notes. We graded the tags using three sizes of dot. If, for example, a reference was made to relationships (either explicitly or in the participant’s own words) then we marked a dot. If the story made more than one mention of relationships we made a larger dot. If the whole story was about relationships then we filled the box with a dot. In this was, we could see at a glance, which tags were most significant.

As in any evaluation of this kind there was a level of subjectivity. For this reason it is recommended that the people who cary out the project evaluations are the people who have been companions on the learning journey with the young people – the youth workers and practitioners. They are best placed to interpret the stories (of a year or more) most accurately through their knowledge of both the project and the young person.

GENERATION at Glasgow CCA

Above: Inside the CCA, Glasgow

At the end of the day the practitioners left the CCA with a tool kit under their arm and experience under their belt – along with the confidence (fingers crossed) to evaluate their own projects with their own young people.

I personally had the opportunity to use the method in Nov/Dec last year to evaluate the projects at The McManus and the Dundee Contemporary Arts and it went very well.

Through design, testing and training, the whole evaluation has been an extremely rewarding and valuable process for me and I’m looking forward to seeing results from the other five centres over the coming months.

Design processes are often seen as being immeasurable which results in qualitative feedback and stories being viewed as less valuable than other more obvious forms of measurement. It is therefore the responsibility of the designer to find ways of demonstrating the value in what we believe to be meaningful. In this way we will only add value to the process and more meaning to the impact.

I would love to hear from you if you have come across qualitative measurement that has impressed you.

Location: Glasgow Centre for Contemporary Arts
Film and editing: Jon Gill © 2015

Instagram Victoriana

victorians - actors

Fun times were had at The McManus, Dundee’s Museum and Art Gallery last Saturday evening (17 May) as we presented Victoriana Dundee as part of the Festival of Museums.

The Museum, opened late for a special evening and, with the help of Artemis Scotland, brought Victorian Dundee to life once more as the various galleries were hosted by local Victorian celebrities – amongst them, Bessie Maxwell and Marie Imandt told us about their ground breaking journalism for DC Thomson seen here:

My job was to ‘channel’ the spirit of Peter Feathers Jnr who just over 100 years ago was a photographer an filmmaker in the city. The Youth Action Group at McManus had found a lot of inspiration through his work for their Sense of Place project (currently on display at The National Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh).

victoriana props

Above: Victoriana selfie with my Victoriana props. (I’m not quite that portly) This pic was taken with my GoPro super wide angle camera :/

Bringing some of our ideas from the project together for last Saturday’s event we decided to have a Victorian Photo Booth where our visitors could dress up and we would photograph them and post to Instagram. Given that Peter Feathers has been remembered for his films more than photographs I opted to use an app called Vintagio. Equipped with my authentic Victorian clockwork iPad I took 5 second shots – similar to the moving newspaper images seen in the Harry Potter films. You can see the results on the McManus Instagram page or arch a montage of snippets in the Youtube video below.

victoriana - dressing up

We were very busy for the solid two and half hours – the continual posting to twitter (check out the has tag #FoM2012) didn’t go unnoticed:

So, I heartily recommend any opportunity to encourage folks to dress up and have their picture/movie taken – adults and children alike, I’m sure we could have stayed open for another two hours!

Were you at McManus last weekend – or any other Festival of Museums events? Tell us all about it below…

Death of the Selfie?

group NY selfie

Do you remember when taking a selfie meant using the tiny convex silver blob on the back of your phone as a guide?

Well, the ‘selfie’ is so common place now that at the end of 2013 ‘Selfie’ was named word of the year by Oxford Dictionaries and even the Pope was in on the act.

Such is the fickle world of fame that having reached the pinnacle the only way is down; and, thanks to a gaggle of the movie world’s finest, it may be that last weekend brought about the beginning of the end for the poor old selfie.

Oscars superfly'd

Whereas the Pope came across as obliging and benevolent the Oscars pic has an embarrassing ‘dad dance’ feel to it. And then, with this being the internet, we see the ugly truth – that no one let Liza Minnelli (at the back in the blue dress) push through!

liza minelli Oscars

The one saving grace was that Matt Groening rattled off a spoof…

simpsons selfie

Pop, as they say, will eat itself!

– – – – – – – – – – –

While working on the the Sense of Place project at Dundee’s McManus we were looking at how cinema developed locally in the early 20th century. At a time when only a few dozen people on the planet had access to a movie camera they were filming the most mundane of activities; people coming out of work; trains coming into stations. It took the magician George Melies to spot the entertainment value of the medium.

With the creation and sharing of photography and video being so ubiquitous and democratised through smart phones and social media we live in a constant avalanche of selfies and dinner plates. But surely it’s the same phenomenon.

It’s interesting that many of the people who complain about the number of people sharing their breakfast on Instagram are also glued to the Great British Bake Off; I’m sure there’s some shared DNA in there somewhere.

And of course the Oscar selfie became the most re-tweeted Tweet of all time with over 2  million RTs before the end of the show.

ancient selfieFinally, my favourite selfie. Apparently the picture on the left dates back to the 1850’s (?). Although it could just be an early iPhone using a grungy Instagram filter. It’s so hard to tell these days.

Exhibition. Reflection. Snacks.

mcmanus feedback 5

Tonight (Thursday 6 February) was a reflection evening at the McManus. We were reflecting on the Sense of Place project with our young artists who range from 15 to 18 years old. We hadn’t seen most of them since the show opened so apart from anything else it was just great having them all together again. And there were snacks.

mcmanus feedback 1

I should point out that these young people come outside of school hours. While they have support from school and family, no one is required to come along – they come because they want to.
Tonight in particular demonstrated their enthusiasm because, let’s face it, tonight wasn’t about ‘making and creating’, it was the dull stuff – answering our questions. You could argue they came for the snacks – however, this is not your stereotypical group of 21st century teenagers and they dutifully told us some of what they had learned. The snacks were a mere perk.

Reflection is essential for us as we begin to prepare to think about new projects but it’s extremely rewarding to hear them articulate the impact it has had over the year.

mcmanus feedback 4

So part one of the evening was to answer a series of four questions:

1) What have you learned about your City?
2) What’s the most important thing you learned, or what had the biggest impact on you?
3) Describe a person you met in the City/through the project who made a strong impression on you? (positive or negative)
4) If you could do it all again, what would you do differently?

Each question was written on a sheet of A2 paper. The young people divided themselves into four groups; each group sat at each question in turn for four minutes writing bullet-style answers. With the sheets mostly full to bursting (and the snacks already near consumed) we moved on to part two and the final question…

mcmanus feedback 2

Each group took turns to gather in our ‘Electric Theatre’ and spent about five minutes answering the question, “Because of Youth Action Group; Sense of Place, I am…”

These answers are posted here in full. They were aware that we were recording and that we would post them although they hadn’t seen the question until we started recording.

So it’s all here (minus snacks); and not so much an ending but, genuinely, it felt/feels like a new beginning; which is perfect because while everyone was very excited to see their work complete and presented, I don’t think any of us feel so precious that we can’t see past it for the next (BIG) thing. And lets not over look the possibility of more snacks in the future.

mcmanus feedback 3

So, if you live near Dundee, ‘Sense of Place’ at The McManus closes tomorrow at 5pm (Friday 7 February) – If you’ve not already been I suggest you hurry up.

 

 

 

My kind of CPD!

McManus CPD Group

The McManus (Dundee’s Museum and Art Gallery) was host to a ‘continuing professional development’ (CPD) session last night. Organised by Angus Arts Co-ordinator Pauline Meikleham, artists and teachers from Angus Council came along to hear about the McManus creative learning programme, the Youth Action Group and the ‘Sense of Place’ project/exhibition (closes Friday, so hurry!).

McManus CPD Feedback

We talked about the practical and digital elements of the project and the connections made between print and digital media.

Sense of Place - McManus

My fascination with the iPad (other tablets and phones are available) is the fact that rather than a Volvo Estate full of ‘stuff’, these days I can capture, edit and share from a device that fits in my inside coat pocket.

mcmanus feedback 2

But all work and no play makes Jon a dull boy (this is ‘Playful’, not ‘Workful’ Communications) so we had a tour of the exhibition scanning a few QR Codes and a little film making session using iMotionHD to make a few stop frame films (they’ll be on the @YagMcManus instagram account later).

It was great to see minds working overtime as ideas formed on the spot – they’re will be a few classrooms across Angus making short, creative films in the coming weeks!

mcmanus feedback 3

On sharing some of these pictures on Instagram later, one of the comments to come back from a teacher not at the session (@andymcginger) was, “My kind of CPD!
So, if this looks like ‘your’ kind of CPD; if you’d like to find out more or have a similar event organised for you then let me know!

Capture. Edit. Share: Film Making on iPad

Over the last few years I’ve been running workshops using iPads; video editing, audio (AudioBoo), animation, image manipulation and more. I can tailor them to young people from 7yrs and up; however I’ve found that there are also a number of adults who would like to know how to use their new devices more creatively. (If as an individual, or member of a group, would like training then drop me a message…)

Perth iMovie Feeback

So, it was great to be back in Perth this week working with ‘Living Communities‘.

I ran a film making workshop (one pupil’s feedback above) with the assistance of two dancers from Space, Dundee College’s Dance Academy. Obviously it’s useful having some form of content to capture, but having the dancers gave us something quite dynamic to film without having to worry about scripts, cues, or plot lines and so on.

The format of the day was that the dancers did a presentation in the main hall. They then came up with a shorter piece which they repeated throughout the morning and afternoon. The pupils suggested the locations, found their filming positions and took turns fulfilling the various roles required, filming, clapperboard, extras, etc…
They then had 45mins to edit what they’d captured down to between 60-90 seconds. Finally we had the Fast Film Festival where every group presented their film.

The video below is a summary of the workshop:

Each group was made up of between 2 and four pupils and one iPad. Collaboration and sharing was the team’s responsibility and though we had a very larger group they handled the challenges of filming together really well.

Coincidentally, I recently did some filming with SmallPetitKlein, dance studio in Dundee. This next video is one of the initial rough edits of a collaborative piece for the ‘Sense of Place’ exhibition at McManus. It proved very useful this week as an example of what the pupils in Perth could achieve. (The final outcome that resulted from this film is currently in the exhibition at The McManus, Dundee.)