Task No. 2
In the second task of the day, we took a different lens on the problem of over-abundance of heritage. We imagined that instead of erasing the 20% of the objects completely, we could use a new Transformation Machine to distill them into their essential qualities. We act out a transformation of the items in a Transformation Machine, and - perhaps paradoxically - create ways to re-experience them.
In groups, the participants agreed upon one item to delete from the collections they had contributed. They noted the crucial attributes to keep about this item, to be re-experienced somehow. They then took their item and crucial attributes to our Transformation Machine, and we compressed the item into a simple token that "now held the crucial attributes to be re-experienced."
As the form and aesthetics had now completely changed, the groups had to imagine how they might still re-experience the crucial attributes. These crucial attributes were as theoretical as "networked knowledge" or as practical as "skills". We presented several near and far future experiential technologies - such as "high-definition touch" and "neural-retina interfaces", handed out a simple kit, and the groups got to work creating re-experiencing devices for their transformed objects.
Next, we asked them to contextualise the transformed object and its device, creating a future museum experience for this kind of heritage item. Each group's token had a special symbol to explain how it had been transformed: into DNA, chips in bodies, deep space messaging. We gave the groups custom collage kits according to their type of transformation-storage.
This was the last and most speculative experience for the experts: they created imaginary visions of a future where satellites contained the heritage they could not store in the museums, and these satellites encircled everywhere in the world except Europe. They imagined a museum on the streets of cities, where upon approaching one another, humans would activate one another's stored heritage items. In both cases, the heritage items had been chosen by the individuals themselves (that is, any inhabitants of the Earth) rather than the museum professionals.
These visions communicated their desire for a more universal, shared and personal experience of heritage in the future. While such a vision might be in their museum's missions, the disparity between 2018 reality and 2038 imagination was clear. The underlying needs were articulated and ignited in such a way that the participants pledged to ground the concepts and bring them back to their respective institutions.
Before the wrap-up for the workshop, we asked everyone to walk through the future museum visions and take a stand at the one they felt was problematic, the one they wanted, or a mixture of both. We prompted them to consider what issues they have in their institutions and whether they would be resolved or made worse by this scenario-collage.