At the beginning of May this year, I conducted a workshop with graduate students at the National Taiwan University of the Arts in Taipei. The workshop was hosted by Dr Lai Ying Ying (seated alongside me below). We’ve had a wonderful relationship with Dr Lai and her faculty since 2008 – and long may it continue!
The Students were asked to prepare a concept description for a range of exhibition themes. They worked in teams and presented their ideas for discussion and criticism.
And what an enthusiastic, talented group of young artists they were! They came from of wide range of Arts studies – from traditional calligraphy to computer animation and arts management – but they put a lot of work into their presentations and were able to assert their feelings about how Museums relate to young Taiwanese.
We visited the Museum of World Religions as a group and then did a serious critique of the Appelbaum exhibitions. I was interested in the lack of connection for these young, literate students. They were able to express why the exhibitions left them cold and what would have made them more engaged.
For me, the process of working with students from a different cultural background was exciting, exhausting and most rewarding. I found myself having to reflect on the decisions behind Story Inc’s ideas and concepts when challenged by these bright young people. Teaching clearly is a two-way street!
One of the graduates, Liu Ting Wei, starts with Story Inc as an intern for a three month posting beginning at the end of July.
Story Inc has signed a memorandum of understanding with NTUA to continue this exchange of ideas and personnel over the next 5 years – with a view to co-developing projects that have relevance for both our communities.
Spring Lecture at MOCA
On the 5th of May, I had the honour of presenting a public lecture at MOCA (Museum of Contemporary Art) as part of the annual spring lecture series. The evening was sold out – and latecomers watched the talk on screens in other rooms in the Museum.
My theme was “R U Experienced?” – an analysis of what we mean by a ‘visitor’s experience’ in our exhibitions. The lecture focused not only on Story Inc’s work, but also a wide range of new innovations from mapped projections to ‘performing drones’ and ‘mood-tracking’ of visitors during their visit!
The lecture was provocative. I examined some of the current exhibitions in state Museums in Taipei and asked the audience to reflect on how well they addressed their themes – spoke to their visitors – offered engagement etc.
The question and answer session after the lecture was very exciting. Museum professionals and teachers, as well as the general public audience all had pertinent questions for me and for each other. We went half an hour over schedule!
It was a real eye-opener to see the level of interest in the questions surrounding the concept of visitor engagement in the context of the modern museum. We should be having these discussions here in NZ!