anthropodlogy:

translating the alien

Anthropodlogy presents the identity of the museum by combining its lesser publicized research portal with the interactivity and experience of a museum. Research is framed through the lenses of insects for people to understand them and also view the world from a different perspective.

People fear insects because we don’t really understand them. I personally disagree with scientific papers that alienate with strings of Latin and diagrams. I decided to decode the alien research by visually representing the studies on insect vision through code.

A Project By: Chiaki Sakai, Francine Chan, Jamilya Kulambayeva, Yijun Xiong

Goldsmiths x Natural History Museum London

click image to navigate virtually

BEE VISION.png

understanding the archive

The research began by looking through the archives of the NHM. We were introduced to libraries of creatures preserved in formaldehyde, tiers of botanical documentation, exploration logs and personal diaries of prolific explorers and ecologists.

What stood out the most was the insect archive, locked away in a labyrinth of filing cabinets and wooden drawers. Totally unassuming but meticulously documented over centuries. 

Preservation Room
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Preservation Room
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Preservation Room
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Preserved Octopus
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Insect Archives
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Insect Archives
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Insect Archives
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Insect Archives
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Ethnography (Dinosaur vs Mammals)

In order to better understand the target audience at the NHM, we decided to do an ethnography of visitors around the most popular exhibit, the dinosaurs to understand what drew them to certain spaces and exhibitions.

While interviewing people, however, we noticed something interesting. People headed towards the dinosaur exhibition would get distracted by the mammals exhibit. 

Guests intentionally heading to the dinosaur exhibit get distracted and hover around the entrance of the mammals exhibit unsure of whether they should visit it first. They usually stop when they notice the lighted up shelves of taxidermy and are drawn in by the interesting visuals. The dinosaur exhibit, which does not have a decorated entrance, usually attracts people who already intended to go there and walked straight in.

 

We found it really interesting and decided to translate this experience into our designs to add a sense of mystery and exploration which brings life to forms of data and specimens by capturing the viewer’s attention unexpectedly as they try to find out more about what is being shown to them with something that they don’t have a preconceived idea of.

Creating Empathy

In order to better understand the world of insects, we did some research on their biological traits and what interested us was their vision. Different types of insects have evolved their visions in a variety of ways, and their ocular limitations were what made them interesting. 

We manifested these findings speculatively to reimagine how insects would view the world from the perspective of houseflies, butterflies, ants, and spiders as they were more commonly spotted in our daily lives. 

Insect filters were created to see how they actually viewed the world and as a result, interact within a museum space.

This approach introduces the exhibits in a new light that can be viewed online, drawing visitors to the physical site to explore various portrayed scenarios.

Insect filters were created to see how they actually viewed the world and as a result, interact within a museum space.

This approach introduces the exhibits in a new light that can be viewed online, drawing visitors to the physical site to explore various portrayed scenarios.

Bio Acoustica.png

While exploring the online archive of the NHM, we came across a massive database of nature recordings that encompassed high-quality insect noises, many of which we never knew existed. 

Inspired by the vast library of information and sounds inaudible to the human ear, we decided to create a launchpad - a sort of DJ minigame where people got to play with insect noises as part of music recording and creation which then personified the various insects as artists, linking users to the original archive. 

We wanted to create a multi-layered experience for people with different cognitive abilities using immersive interactions that led people to more detailed scientific facts.

The example of the website is in the video below with a link for you to explore it yourself further down!