Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision – ‘Beyond the News’

Period: November 25, 2014 – May 31 2015
Project leader: Brigitte Jansen
Media artist: Geert Mul
Curator: Annemarie Nycolaas

Period: November 25, 2014 – May 31 2015
Project leader: Brigitte Jansen
Media artist: Geert Mul
Curator: Annemarie Nycolaas

Period: November 25, 2014 – May 31 2015
Project leader: Brigitte Jansen
Media artist: Geert Mul
Curator: Annemarie Nycolaas

Introduction

The Netherlands Institute of Sound and Vision (short: Sound & Vision) is not just a museum. Rather, it’s both a museum and an archiving institute for audio-visual material, specifically all output coming from public broadcasting. To find smart ways to interact with all that content, the Research and Development department develops all sorts of tools to, for example, easily navigate through all that content. But with such great audio-visual content, the museum stands for a big challenge: how do they show the regular museum visitor that all this content is available in their building? And how can they create artistic and meaningful experiences with it?

On November 25, Sound & Vision opened a new exhibition called Beyond the News (free transl. ‘Voorbij het Nieuws’). Here, visitors are encouraged to think about the way news is brought to them. The main research object in this exhibition is the installation ‘Different News’, where visitors are invited to interact with the content that was created by Sound and Vision and media artist Geert Mul. Goal of the installation is to give visitors insight into the way words in news transmissions are connected to one another, and specifically how these words change over time. Visitors would thus be able to see how the context of a new subject changes during a specific time frame. By operating a big touch screen placed in the middle of the installation, visitors can scroll through the news items and see the output on three different screens surrounding them.

To create their exhibition, Sound & Vision too was awarded a grant from Fonds 21 to support their plans. This was a direct inducement for the research group Crossmedia to have a better look at this exhibition, as the research group is specifically interested in the way multiple media combined in one exhibition lead to a specific experience. So while further designing the exhibition, we had the ability to observe the entire design process by attending meetings, interviewing the different stakeholders and studying the design output.

To see how visitors actually responded to the environment, we observed visitors while they were walking through the exhibition. Next to that, we also interviewed them afterwards – both quantitative and qualitative. We were specifically interested in how they walked through the exhibition (routing), what they did during the different installations (behaviour) and how they felt about the different activities offered in the exhibition (emotions).

Design process

 After listening to the plans of R&D, the exhibitions department becomes enthusiastic. So what began with a single installation has finally become a fully fledged exhibition, located in the Blue Hall of Sound and Vision. The installation ‘Different News’ remains the starting point of the final concept, but visitors are now invited to also dive into personal stories that relate to the content of the installation.

Annemarie Nycolaas, specialist museum presentations of Sound and Vision explains that each exhibition is designed from a core concept: media determination and worldview. From there, the idea for the final exhibition was born: ‘Beyond the News’. An exhibition that is about the way media shape our perceptions and allows the visitor to wonder how his viewpoints are influenced by the media (specifically NOS-journals). Visitors could dive into the relationships between concepts by interacting with the installation ‘Different News’, or listen to the personal stories of people who have been in the news in 2011-2013 and which clearly demonstrate the impact that media had in their story. Lastly, newsmakers themselves also come into view, which makes it a complete whole, according to Nycolaas. “You first see the installation of Geert, then zoom in on specific topics, then you turn around and you see the stories of the creators.”

Despite the fact that the exhibition has become bigger than originally planned, the focus of the study remains ‘Different News’, the installation that both R&D and Geert Mul are responsible for. To learn more about the design process, the assumptions that Sound & Vision had with regard to the visitor experience and how visitors responded to the exhibition, please download our report (for now, in Dutch only): Final Report Sound & Vision – Beyond the News.

Field research

 During the study several methodes were applied to gather our data. As the study proposed is fairly new, the methodology too is still developing. Sound and Vision is one of the first museums to work with us – which we are very thankful for – and in this programme, we gathered data according to the methods as listed below (also, see p. 6 of the final report).

Methods used Sound & Vision

Results

 The study mainly showed that visitors were curious about the installation; they wanted to know what it was for, what they could do with it and what type of content they would get from it. After touching the screen and interacting with it, they were however often discouraged to further interact with it. Most of the interviewed respondents said they could not find a meaningful way to interact with the installation and thought it was too abstract. Nonetheless, one of the interviewed respondents was very enthusiastic, which is probably explained by her interest in journalism and research which the installation relates well too.

The study revealed lots of more interesting insights, which can be best accessed by looking at the final report: Final Report Sound & Vision – Beyond the News. Unfortunately, this report is in Dutch only (for now). So if you’re curious and have a specific question, but can’t read Dutch, please contact us!