One of the aims of MUSE.ar project is to bring artists – and thus arts – closer to museums. That is the reason why we work with 3 artist groups on new narratives for museums and visitors, using a digital collection.
The three groups of artists have taken part in a residency in recent weeks, working on details of their own narratives. Two of them, Kálmán Mátyás from the Felsőcsatár team and Matthew Dunstan from the NaFilM team, were asked to tell us a little bit about how they see the project now, where they are going with their work and what their plans are for the coming months.
Describe yourself shortly: who are you, what experience you bring to your team’s work, why are you in the project?
Matthew Dunstan: I’m a research scientist and game designer focused on combining education and game concepts, whether as experiences in real locations, or as products such as board games. I am part of the Muse AR project to explore the use of game concepts and design in an app for museums.
Mátyás Kálmán: I am Mátyás Kálmán, I am half present in this project in the role of „narraror” and half in the role of „collector”. I graduated from MOME with a degree in media design, but before that and for the past few years, I worked in editorial offices as a video journalist. From 2007 I started working at Index, then from 2017 at 24.hu, I started as the leader of the video section in the latter and I have been a freelancer again since May this year.
At the same time, I have always been interested in more experimental genres, I did a lot of screenings at various events and as part of cultural events: I worked with theater and dance directors, I also participated in the planning and production of building screenings.
I’ve also made some community and traditional documentaries, so I like to get a taste of several genres.
Have you been involved in a similar project before?
Matthew: I have been involved in other educational game projects, including one with Erasmus+ to design an escape room in a museum, and a project with the Diamond Light Source in the UK to develop a board game for school children aimed at raising awareness of what it is like to be a scientist working at such a large scale facility.
Mátyás: I have participated in international workshops before, but they were mostly about the development of a film project and did not have to create a specific work within the workshop or residency. Perhaps one of my most exciting experiences like this was Transform@Lab in 2014, which was specifically about developing cross-media and interactive content.
What do you expect from the project in person?
Matthew: I expect to learn a lot; it’s the first time I’ve been involved in a project with so many partners and colleagues with vastly different sets of experiences and skills.
Mátyás: When I saw Pro Progressione’s call, it was clear at first that I was going to apply. On the one hand, because I like opportunities where you can think and create a joint project as part of an international team.
On the other hand, because the use of AR as a technology in storytelling has long been a concern and here we get a professional support, organizational and technological framework where we have the opportunity to think freely and focus on content so that in the end a useful, exciting and creative end result comes. created. Lastly, because I was sure that I could learn a lot from the presenters, team members, and other creatives involved in the project during the process.
Who are your teammates, what is it like working together with them?
Mátyás: Our team is perhaps the most exciting experiment. We all came from different countries and from completely different backgrounds.
I wouldn’t undertake to introduce them in detail, but the one who takes the role of collector-narrator with me is Claudio, who lives next to Venice but spends most of the year in foreign residencies. Perhaps the conceptual / visual artist best describes that because of what he does, he has already made a community photo album in which he has collected images from the perspective of Mary’s sculptures, but he already has a book published and a sculpture in Copenhagen.
And Vojtech is Czech, and perhaps I could call him the most creative coder. He also has experience in making VR animations and sound installations, he can think well in systems and user experience.
How did you start to develop your own concept, where are you now in the project and in the common work? What is your most positive experience so far during the project? What difficulties has your team faced so far?
Matthew: We developed the concept in connection with the team at NaFilM, focussed on updating an older VR exhibition aimed at showing visitors what virtual reality was like at the turn of the last century when film was just being developed. We are currently in the prototyping phase, working on new ideas for the VR experience, and constantly discussing what will work best.
I really enjoyed the meeting with all the partners and artists in Prague earlier this year – it was such a great opportunity to learn more about heritage interpretation (which is pretty new for me), and moreover to meet so many amazing artists. Sometimes life can be a bit lonely as an artist (especially during the pandemic!), so it was good to have more social connection.
I think the difficulty is in finding a way to incorporate the MuseAR app into the experience we and the team at NaFilM wants. Finding that intersection in the Venn diagram between three different parties is tricky, and requires a lot of discussion and brainstorming.
Mátyás: Maybe it’s because we’re so diverse and we’re from different countries, sometimes it took us a little longer to find common ground. But the process itself is very useful and instructive, we approach an idea from many directions, each time it is about the user experience, the deeper meaning of each content element and the very practical implementation.
The first time we visited Felsőcsatár, Vojtech was unable to come, so we recorded him the whole speech and guidance of the director-owner of the Iron Curtain Museum.
This is a really special place, Sándor Goják practically collected and organized the entire material of the Iron Curtain Museum on his own. Much of this is just in his head, and he tirelessly leads groups around up to hundreds of times a year. The aim of our project is to create a visitor experience that is even more understandable at the international level as well as for students, and where we can „transfer” Sándor’s well-established leadership to digital surfaces, rethinking them a bit.
How much did the joint training in Prague at the end of July help or complicate your work, where you could get to know and comment on the concept of the other two teams as well? What is the next step for your team in the project?
Matthew: It helped immensely. For me, I am slowly getting more used to being considered an ‘artist’ (after thinking of myself firstly as a scientist for a long time!), so it was really inspiring to see how the other teams work and try to bring some of that into my own practice.
The next step is developing a prototype that we can present to the other partners within the project to gain valuable feedback.
Mátyás: The training in Prague was the first time that our team met in person. It was very helpful, we wrote down a lot of ideas and we were influenced by the performances there, and also the fact that we were able to keep track of how the other teams were thinking. We were also in a special position as the daughter and granddaughter of the director of the museum also took part in the training, so we could continuously and directly apply the aspects of the museum in shaping the concept.
And since then, there has been another on-site workshop where we conducted interviews, trying to clarify the concept. In the end, we presented this as well, but we received feedback from the project leaders that made us think again 🙂 So the finalization of the concept is still in progress, but we are on the right track.
Who might be interested in the results of the project?
Matthew: I think anyone who works in museums, film education and indeed game design will get something out of the project’s results.
Mátyás: I hope that when the project materializes, the museum will operate more easily and flexibly. Perhaps it will attract the attention of educators even more than before, and in addition to subject knowledge, it will also become a suitable environment for learning personal stories.