Reflective Devices - Prototype II
Participants: +50| Time spent: 10hrs | Fidelity: medium
We were invited to install “Listening Devices” as part of Click Festival at the Helsingor Kulturhus. Specifically, the Listening Devices surrounded the entrance and exit to a virtual reality film on the contrasting experiences of refugees coming from war-torn regions to Scandinavia. Our aim was to nurture this asynchronous, alternate form of dialogue among the visitors, engaging them to think and give input about how their perspective was (or was not) altered by the experience.
In the flow for the Listening Devices, visitors were supposed to look into the Question posts, leave an answer at the Speaking post, and then go through the V.R. experience. Only after that, they were to listen at the Listening post again and leave a last thought. We tried various set-ups as the speaking, questions and listening posts were all modular and mobile.
Throughout the installation, we talked to various visitors to find out how they experienced the “Listening Devices.” A few key notes, as well as reflections on how our assumptions were either confirmed or questioned.
- The participants in Listening Devices wanted to listen at all of the posts and spent a lot of time (partly because they were trying to figure out how the audio mixing worked, though)
- “I would be more comfortable to listen first, then contribute”
- “The questions were too hard”
- “I didn’t hear many deep thoughts — lots of silliness and random noise”
- “I felt shy / nervous about saying something in front of everyone and would have preferred a more protected, umbrella-like thing to be inside”
- [Guidance] When does it start recording? What should I say? Where does the recording go? Where is the sound coming from? Confusion about the flow of the interaction
- [Guidance] Just as at Nikolaj Kunsthal, if one of our team explained the Listening Devices first, people were more open to and interested in contributing — though they would look at the questions and listen at the listening posts regardless
- [Installation space] The unexpected limits of the space made our implementation weaker. We expected to install the speaking / listening in a divided space and therefore didn’t design for the experience of mixing the two possibilities in 1 space
- [Glowing LEDs as invitation] People did not need the triggers of the glowing LEDs to go listen at the Listening posts — the combination of curious objects and low murmurs as well as triggers from watching others interact was enough
- [Glowing LEDs as invitation] However, they expected that the LEDs would be sound-reactive / demonstrate that their audio had been recorded as opposed to simply glowing to demonstrate that they had detected the person’s presence
- [Sociality] 2–3 people would comfortably use the same panel of question/speak/listen posts, though each post was quite close to the other — still, only a few “braver” ones spoke
- [Invitation] The magnified question trope worked seamlessly, though it should have been better contextualised within the exhibition — in terms of the framing of how it relates to the exhibition
- [Usability] People did put their ears up to the listening posts (or bend down to them) though some would have preferred to be able to lean into the objects / rest their ears on them
- People were easily intrigued by the aesthetics of the question/speak/listen posts, but didn’t necessarily use a piece (either because they felt shy or didn’t know how to use it “correctly”) unless they saw someone else using it first