Paper Session 3: Image and Sound – Beyond the word: experimenting with aural, immersive, and experimental experiences

Tuesday, April 4th: 9:30am - 11:00am

Without words. Design informative digital experiences for a post web world.


Tell me about … ,  but wait, because as soon as you put fingertip to keyword and begin to write, you are throwing up barriers to access. Pre-readers – gone, early readers – intimidated,  visitors who don\’t know your language – excluded. MOTAT is a science and technology museum in Auckland, New Zealand. Our audience is primarily local families and schoolchildren. Our city is one of the most ethnically diverse cities in the world with the fourth highest foreign born population. Our science and technology topics are frequently complex. Our collection is often unknowable without explanation. The success of our mission to educate and inspire relies upon our ability to communicate facts, concepts, and context.

Are written words – the default – still the best medium for us (MOTAT) with our particular, but by no means unique, set of circumstances? We are not so sure. With an intergenerational, ethnically diverse audience, access and appeal is a tantalising challenge. One that plays nicely into the area of digital experience design as our digital technology platforms allow us to experiment with new modes. Such as, doing away with written language as default and pursuing a moving image and sound first approach to our new digital labels and interactives. Favouring wordless user interfaces that draw on the universally adopted design solutions of device OS and streaming platforms. And taking from game design and psychology, increasing engagement and retention by making our audience an active participant in their own \’education\’, revealing stories and information through ongoing interaction, rather than literally spelling it out for them on a page.

As the book and webpage paradigm is demoted, we now look first at how our objects can be the medium for their own stories through 3D modelling, 360 photography, augmented reality and other not-so-new tools of information communication. This approach is delivering benefits to our internal organisation as well. Two short examp

Proposal ID: 11052

Exploring Sonification: Representing Data with Sound


The Georgia Tech sonification lab defines sonification as representing data with nonspeech audio Studies show that sonification, combined with visual data displays increases accuracy for people with normal vision. Additionally, sonification, representing data with sound facilitates access for people who are blind.

There is a growing community of researchers, scientists and educators developing software to create sonification. With the exception of the Harvard/Smithsonian, sonification has not been explored for museum contexts.

This paper will give examples of sonification. Software can be developed using programing languages such as python. Sonification can be produced on websites using the SAS Graphics Accellerator or the IMAGE browser extension from McGill University. The aim is to encourage people to include data sonification in addition to visual displays of data. This would provide multisensory opportunities, and it would increase access for people who are blind.

Examples of Sonification projects
Accessible Oceans hosted by the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.

Chandra Photo Album Sonification Collection
Hosted by the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics

The Data Sonification Archive is a searchable database of sonification projects that present data from many scientific fields.

Explore – From Space to Sound Nasa sonified many images.

The Georgia Tech Sonification Lab is an interdisciplinary research group based in the School of Psychology and the School of Interactive Computing at Georgia Tech.

Methods to produce sonification
A standalone software tool for the sonification of multidimensional datasets © 2014 by Jeffrey Hannam Sound Designer

Lenzi S., Ciuccarelli P., Liu H., Hua Y. 2020. Data Sonification Archive. Last accessed: October 13, 2022.

Noel-Storr, J., & Willebrands, M. (2022). Accessibility in astronomy for the visually impaired. Nature Astronomy, 1-3.

Proposal ID: 11072

The Cabinet: Turning an Open storage into a Game of Interpretation


What does it mean to have an open storage in the middle of the galleries? What opportunity does it pose for to exploring digital and interactive element within the galleries?

In M+, there is a gallery where 40 panels displaying 200 paintings, posters, and photographs move in front of your eyes and are shuffled every two hours. There are no detailed work descriptions on wall labels, only questions on a screen asking what you think about what you see. It is The Cabinet, an open storage system and interactive digital experience that is distinctly different from the typical white cube gallery.

The inspiration for The Cabinet came from sixteenth-century collections of wondrous and eclectic objects: the Wunderkammern, otherwise known as the cabinet of curiosities. These cabinets acted as displays for the private collections of European aristocrats, showcasing anything from historical relics and archaeological specimens to works of art, antiquities, and other cultural objects. Meant to be encyclopaedic as well as sensational, they were seen as microcosms of the world in their arrangement and selection, reflective of the particular interest and worldview of the collector.

At The Cabinet, visitor’s viewpoint matters more than what the images are supposed to say. The digital screen displays game prompt based on research on visual interpretation strategies. One of them includes Visual Thinking Strategies (VTS), which gives people a chance to consider different ways of seeing. The Cabinet takes these VTS principles as inspiration and asks the visitor, ‘what do you see?’ and ‘what makes you say so?’. Visitors are invited to draw connections between the works on display and their own observations, guiding them through the process of reading visual cues. The game also displays the input from the earlier visitors, showing an accumulation of exchanges and unique perspectives. The collective in-gallery game experience emphasises how there is no right or wrong answer in art a

Proposal ID: 11084