The Way Gone…
18 months have gone since Inremo’s kick-off seminar was held in September 2011. In that seminar, the distinctive features of the network were already drawn: an interdisciplinary arena for discussion concerned with the identification of action points where the design and development of digital artifacts and representations could be pushed further, and a declared commitment towards the establishment of interdisciplinary projects that would take up and materialize the network’s ideals in literal action. 18 month later, three such projects have been outlined and respective applications have already been sent to research funding institutions for two of them. The goal of this note is to sum up over a year of the network’s activities and achievements, and to outline some further action points.
The coalition from both private and public actors from areas as diverse as education, architecture, cultural heritage and graphical design, is perhaps the most distinctive – as well as the most challenging – feature of the INREMO network. Maintaining and supporting effective ways of communicating and collaborating has been an important achievement during the last months. In this regard, the role of the different seminars held has been determinant. In this period, we have arranged 5 seminars. Our seminars have typically involved one full day activities, though in one occasion, due to the complex and ambitious nature of the meeting, it has also involved longer sessions.
A central aspect of INREMO’s seminars is that they create opportunities to listen to and learn from each other. During the seminars, the participants have articulated what their own value for the network is, and what the needs and challenges of each of our fields were. In addition, experts in the field have been recruited as keynote speakers, extending and adding depth to the networks’ perspective.
INREMO’s seminars have also been conceived for fostering collaboration in the development of innovative ideas and projects for future implementation. Thus, already in March 2012, the network announced that it would assign economical funding for the development of specific ideas that could be operationalized in feasible projects of interest to the different partners. In what was called the first «Ideas Seminar» (12 – 13 June 2012), the germs of several ideas were presented and actively developed during a two-days session of brainstorming and participatory design activities. As a result, the seminar gave place to the further development of three project applications, two of which have already been sent to funding institutions.
Another important aspect related to collaboration has been the arrangement of social activities, which transcend the more intellectual and practical aspects, but which nevertheless form the basis for more productive relationships between the networks’ partners. Perhaps the most salient event organized by the network in this regard has been the August 2012 study tour to Los Angeles and San Francisco in the US. In that tour, INREMO partners had the opportunity to participate in the SIGGRAPH 2012 conference. They also visited some of the most well known actors in the Information & Technology industry, such as Google and Facebook, and the prestigious The Tech Museum of Innovation in San Jose. A memory on the INREMO network’s travel was published at Norsigd (Norwegain Association for Computer Graphics) and can be downloaded here.
The Project Applications
Two project applications have been developed so far. The projects reflect the wide scope of the interdisciplinary coalition, and cover important aspects of both research and development within the area of digital representations in different socio-cultural contexts, such as cultural heritage, education, and evaluation of users’ experience.
CHIME (Cultural Heritage Immersive Environments) is a project proposal leaded by Expology, and with the University of Oslo and Notam (Norwegian Center for Technology in Music and the Arts) as partners. The main idea of the project is to produce new tools and to develop methods for the design of immersive experiences in centers of cultural heritage and other tourist destinations. For this purpose, the project offers a combination of bold narrative story-telling with innovative sound and visualization techniques that can support visitor interaction, learning and particiaption. The specific expertise of the different partners in the project, with extensive experience and excellence in the design and implementation of museum exhibitions, education, and sound art and performance, makes the project unique in its nature and potential. It is precisely this kind of inter-professional initiatives that INREMO pursues to foster and develop. The project proposal has been sent in to the Research Council of Norway’s program for user-driven research based innovation (BIA).
INSPIRASJON is the name of yet another project sent in to the same BIA program. With the participation of Expology, the Norwegian Computing Center, the Norwegian Museum of Science and Technology and the University of Oslo, the project aims to develop an innovative system evaluate the visitors’ engagement and experiences in science centers. The project involves the application and development of evaluation techniques comprising (a) collection of different kinds of data, including video-recordings and physiological measures, and (b) modeling of these data. With this project, our INREMO partners attempt to push our understanding of visitors’ experience further, and to develop new techniques that may assist in the development of more engaging and rich experiences in science centers.
The New Horizons
The network is soon having his second ideas seminars, where the guidelines for future development will be drawn. Topics of relevance will be the identification of sectors to recruit partners and expand the networks’ areas of action and of funding possibilities to launch new projects of innovation. In this latter regard, the European program «Horizon» will surely be an important target.