A few of the Tangible Memories team attended the “Art, Death & Candy” event at the Arnos Vale cemetery yesterday evening. A discussion was led by artist Julia Vogl and Dr Jon Troyer about the possibilities of future memorials and their role within society. During the process gumballs were used to cast a vote on the factors the participants found to be most important. Continue reading
This morning I attended a SPHERE talk by Bharat Bedi about the Smarter Care in Bolzano project. The talk addresses the question of “how can smart computing help people stay in their own homes for longer?” with details of a case study made in the city of Bolzano where there is a rapidly ageing population.
We played around with using the Oculus Rift today as a means for creating a virtual space for storytelling. Our first two testers M & B both enjoyed the experience. We firstly tried out stepping into a 3D snapshot of the Bristol Museum Foyer, and then took a trip up Cabot Tower. M had a look around a virtual Tuscan Villa whilst B opted for a whistle-stop tour of the Solar System. The next step is to customise the virtual scenes and introduce the possibility of handling objects relevant to the scene during the experience. An interesting finding was that binaural audio recordings played at the same time proved to be a distraction from the visual material.
We had never made a print on demand book before, so wanted to test it out before we start working with people in the care homes to create their own reminiscence books.
Barney and I are brother and sister, but we also work regularly with other members of our family, including our parents, Pip and Ali Heywood. We developed a show with our Dad Pip last year, called The Eye of the Hare, which is an autobiographical piece about aspects of his life. It’s a one-man show with him on stage reading extracts and stories from a book he has been writing combined with film and audio clips.
As we have all the material and multimedia for The Eye of the Hare already, we decided to use that to create our initial prototype book. So, the three of us got together with the script and media from the show and tried to figure out how to turn it into an interactive book. Continue reading
Earlier this week I tried out sewing small RFID buttons into (and onto) a test fabric quilt. The aim is to create a musical blanket that can be used for storytelling. The ‘electronic cup’ shown on the right can read the tags and play preassigned passages of music when you hover over one of the buttons.
While visiting relatives in London, I took the opportunity to pop in to the Victoria and Albert Museum, to see this fascinating display about memory techniques.
‘In the age of the internet we rarely rely on the skill of remembering, but systems to assist memory were once essential. One of the oldest is the Memory Palace, which requires picturing a familiar building, then placing vivid images within it. When you imagine walking through the building, the images trigger the facts you want to recall. The technique comes from an ancient Greek story about a banqueting hall that collapsed, crushing the guests beyond recognition. The poet Simonides was able to identify each guest by mentally walking around the table and visualizing them.
Cicero and Quintilian described the Memory Palace in their treatises on rhetoric, which were influential in the Renaissance and the Enlightenment. In the 19th century, when education involved rote-learning facts and figures, different memorising systems evolved and were promoted through lectures, manuals and children’s card games.
But Simonides’ simple and personal technique still appeals. For a mnemonic setting we might use, rather than a banqueting hall, our home, a place characterized by strong visual, sensual and emotional recollections. This display explores the art of remembering, as well as the idea of home as a Memory Palace.’
The journey to Oxford, for the Creative Dementia Arts Network conference, started in an appropriately creative way. On board the 08.55 from Didcot, I discovered a Pass It On book, left for the ‘next person’ to find, read and give away. I had heard much about this delightful exchange, known as a Book Swap, but this was the first time I’d had the good fortune to stumble upon such serendipitous gift.
There was also a serendipity to be found in many of the stories, research and experiences of dementia that were recounted at the Creative Dementia Arts Network conference, throughout the day in Oxford. Continue reading