Displacement and Migration: mapping and soundscape

Designers in residence is a core part of Design Museum’s programme. Now in its 9th year, it reflects the museum’s commitment to providing support for designers in the early part of their careers.

The 2015 exhibition focuses on the theme of Migration, with four designers selected for their innovation and original thinking. Stephanie Hornig, Chris Green, Alexa Pollman and Hefin Jones were the Designers in Residence 2015.

The plan:

The Displacement and Migration multisensory tour was held on Saturday 9 January, and to have a good opportunity to investigate the narrative and critical nature of this exhibition, we divided the tour into three areas; Migration and Displacement, Migration and Mapping, and Migration and Soundscape.

The subject:

Migration and Displacement.
We can’t really talk about Migration without making a reference to what has been described as probably the world’s worst human tragedies, the current forced migration of people affecting parts of Eastern Europe and the Middle East. There is an argument against such a major displacement of people but research reveals that human migration has happened throughout history:

▪The biblical Exodus of the Israelite’s in the Old Testament records that “about six hundred thousand men on foot, besides women and children” left Egypt. –   Exodus 12:37

▪ In Quebec history, 925,000 French Canadians were said to have left for the United States between 1840 and 1930, mostly due to political and economic reasons.

▪One of the greatest waves of immigrants to the USA was during the 1820’s to 1890’s, when more than 5 million immigrants arrived in America from Ireland and Germany.

▪Between the 16th and 19th centuries, about 11 million Africans were forced into slavery and brought to the Americas.

▪The Jewish Exodus from Arab and Muslim countries saw the Jewish migration include nearly all the 140,000 Jews from Algeria emigrating, mostly to France after Algerian independence in 1962.

Migration involves movement, mobility and transition and we can explore that idea with several objects, systems and processes. Objects are ideal for exploring spatial displacement and this tour uses definitive elements like form, shape, texture and density to explain its day-to-day manifestation. One question we asked was; do you know animals like the Caledonian bird use flexible thinking to solve multi-stage problems? When tested, a crow knows that dropping stones or gravel into a half-filled jar of water will cause the water level to rise to the top, making access to the water easier.

The Hourglass is another excellent object to explore elements of the cause and effect of material displacement. You clearly hear the sound of the sand travelling from one part of the hourglass to the other.

Migration and Mapping:
Chris Green’s Aerial Futures display shows 2 four-engine and 1 three-engine drone each mounted on metal stands. Chris’s practice forges new relationships between people, place and the city and this display was a main part of our interrogation of movement, mapping, surveillance and tracking.

It is worth noting that though most drones are 4-engine, Octocopters or eight-engine drones are more efficient for high-risk or longer range use so that a possible failure to the first set of engines is not terminal, allowing for extraction of the device from its operation.

Drone by Chris Green
Image: Chris Green’s  4-engine drone.
Copyright Chris Green, Drone 2015

Drones have become increasingly popular with flying enthusiasts but are also famously and excellently used in extensive and long-range research and activities like monitoring, surveillance and exploration. Because they are silent, precise and can be operated from a distance without detection, drones have excellent use during war, for exploring space and researching volcanoes. They are also used in farming and for mapping terrains.

A good example is the use of drones during the investigation of Katla, Iceland’s most active and dangerous volcano. Scientists are able to monitor seismic activity by capturing aerial images which detail 3D maps of the area. They also place monitors as close as possible to the core of the eruptions so GPS tracking systems gather data, which they feedback in real time.

Using Telematics is key to the work that goes on during mapping. Telematics are devices that merge telecommunications and infomatics and this includes anything from GPS systems to navigation systems. We see them featured in anything from vehicle trackers to hands-free mobile calling, and our mobile phones are an example of a Telematics device.

Animals also have very sophisticated processes and tracking abilities that help with mapping. An example is how bats use echoes from clicks to convey not only their distance to a target, but also the size, shape, speed, and vector of the objects movement. The bloodhounds ability to track game, the humpback whale’s ability to migrate from Antarctica to eastern Australia to give birth and mate during the winter and spring, and the rattle snake’s ability to track its prey after striking are among varying elements of tracking and mapping that are constantly used by animals and in wildlife.

Echolocation allows dolphins to tell the difference between types of fish, and can identify size, shape and weight by the echo that comes back to them. They can also easily discern the difference between objects that are different in material composition, even if visually identical, by their different densities.

Alexa Pollman’s Indivicracy display is about the concept of a future nation where a new form of government for the 21st century is created, in which societies exist without borders or territory. Allowing for free movement, the citizen’s are constantly moving between places, with governance in place to protect individuals who choose to migrate borders of settled societies.

Trackpack. For DM Jan blog
Image: Alexi Pollman’s Trackpack.
Copyright Alexi Pollman, Trackpack 2015.

Alexi also challenges the current notion of “wear” and her display suggests ideas for future garments like the super-insulated gloves called Typers, the masks, the Jumping-jackers shoes and the Trackpack, what i can only describe as a one-piece raincoat attached to a back-pack and constructed into a shopping trolley on wheels.

Migration and Soundscape.
Sound is transmitted from a source to the surrounding air when particles vibrate or collide, and this vibration passes the sound energy along to our ears. Without any particles to vibrate, we would not hear the sound. With this knowledge, our activity explored various sounds and recorded our responses.

Sound exercise at the Design Museum

Using the learning studio, our Soundscape activity involved the use of six different sounds. Participants listened to and identified various sounds at intervals, and were asked what each sound represented to them. They could either draw or name their response, whether as a visual representation or an emotion, and the results were really interesting. Participants said they experienced various emotions, from elation, nostalgia, happiness to soothing relaxation.

The next tour:
The next multisensory event will tour the current Cycle Revolution exhibition at the end of march. This tour will examine the revolution of bicycle design, and investigate material and function. It will also include a demonstration of a bicycle for the blind and visually impaired.

More information, date and booking details will be uploaded to Design Museum’s website shortly.

MaMoMi. All rights reserved 2016.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s