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influenza and lymphocyte models

Design for Interaction and Moving Image students get biomedical for Science Museum Lates

Written by Helen Carney
Published date 18 February 2018

Excitement is building on London College of Communication’s BA (Hons) Interaction Design Arts course as the night of Wednesday 26 February approaches.

Students are currently preparing exhibits which will appear at February’s Science Museum Lates with Mastercard – a series of free evenings for adults which take place on the last Wednesday of each month.

This month’s Lates is all about the bio-revolution as the museum collaborates with the Francis Crick Institute to explore the future of biomedical discovery and other things medical. As well as the current Collider exhibition, live music, a pub quiz, Punk Science comedy shows and a silent disco, this month’s lucky visitors can interact with and be entertained by medically-themed installations by LCC’s very own undergraduates.

Space suit 1 resized

Urbanaut takes a fictional journey into future medicine, health and technology

All models in action

The students’ brief specified that their exhibits must help visitors to better understand a medical concept while also holding their attention in a busy environment, as Lates regularly attracts over 3,000 adults per night and spans three floors. The resulting projects boast such intriguing titles as FutureHuman Operation, Urbanaut, Heartculator, Blood Lines, Heartbeat Orchestra, Placebo and Hit the Road Jack. We asked participating students Ian Hutchinson and Maya Gadd to tell us more.

How does your project tie in with the bio-medical theme?

Ian Hutchinson: We started off with the simple premise of making music from heartbeats. We brought in some sensors that measure your pulse and wrote some software that makes orchestral compositions from the information we get from the sensors. So when you’re stood in front of the piece, you’re making music that is directly taken from one of your vital signs in medicine.

Maya Gadd: My project is about transhumanism, which is the mixture of synthetic biological robotics into the human body. Much of my research has revolved around the social and economical consequences of this future healthcare option, and therefore links in well with the bio-medical theme.

Heartbeat orchestra

A performance by the Heartbeat Orchestra

How do you feel about exhibiting your work at the Science Museum?

IH: It’s the Science Museum so you’ve got to do a classy job, and getting ready for the pitch was intense. When we found out the Heartbeat Orchestra was going ahead, I think we all breathed a sigh of relief and became very giddy when we realised what was happening.

MG: I’m excited at the opportunity to exhibit at such a well-established institution, not only for my portfolio, but for my own personal experience. I also feel that a live brief is something that challenges me as a designer in a way that a brief within academia cannot.

What do you think is the most important thing about engaging audiences at Science Museum Lates?

IH: The crowd that go to the Lates are unmistakably fun-seeking individuals, so you need to make something that really excites the senses. I think the way that the music our piece makes is directly controlled by the people that use it and the social experience of making music with other people will hit the mark for the visitors.

MG: The Lates are entertainment, people go there to have fun and learn something new, but within the context of a fun night out. This means that my piece needs to engage with the audience on an instinctual, playful level for me to get any research or larger context across to them. The public want to be engaged, which definitely makes my job as a designer a lot easier, but I want to live up to their standards and be a solid part of the atmosphere that makes the Lates so fun.

How is the project going so far?

IH: We’re on the home stretch. At the moment, we’re working on finger clips so people can comfortably attach themselves to the pulse monitors. They’re not something you can buy off the shelf, so we’re going to 3D print them.

MG: The project has been a real challenge in bringing my concept to life. I have spent much of my time building and prototyping to get the level of aesthetics that I felt was important to the piece. It’s been really frustrating at times, and I have definitely made a few mistakes (sticking a circuit together with an insulating glue) but I am pleased with my overall process, and hopefully the public will enjoy the piece.

What would be the best possible visitor reaction to your exhibit?

IH: We demonstrated a prototype to some incoming students on our course, and there were moments where they stood dead in their tracks and listened to the music they were producing. I think that sense of being moved by the piece is what we’re looking for.

MG: I want the participant to enjoy it, learn something they didn’t know already, and then think about that knowledge after they have left. That would make me pretty happy!

Cholera

Eosinophil

Tapeworm

Influenza

Lymphocyte

The students are hoping to educate as well as entertain Lates visitors

Speaking about the collaboration, Rebecca Lynch, Media Space Learning Coordinator at the Science Museum, said:

“This project ties in to our work around Media Space, a bold and contemporary arts-led gallery space with a focus on the still and moving image. We approached LCC because the course was a natural fit with Media Space, and the Lates provided the ideal opportunity for the students to show their work to a diverse adult audience. Working with higher education students in a collaborative way is an exciting new development for us.

The students have a fantastic range of design skills, and I’m sure they will put them to use in incorporating different media in imaginative ways. We’re hoping the projects will surprise and initiate conversation about the important biomedical issues they’ve chosen to tackle, which range from the spread of STDs to the misuse of antibiotics. Most of all, we hope that our visitors will enjoy interacting with each and every project – this work was created for them!”


Read about Science Museum Lates with Mastercard