Episode 3 - Extrasensory

Transcript

00:00:10:20 - 00:00:31:18
Kat Chudy
Hello and welcome to DIY Access. I'm your host, Kat Chudy, and today we're going to be talking to Rob Duarte and Meredith Lynn about a series of shows they put on at the Museum of Fine Arts at Florida State University called Extrasensory. Let's go ahead and get into the conversation with the two of them. I'm going to go ahead and have you both introduce yourselves real quick.

00:00:31:18 - 00:00:32:22
Kat Chudy
Rob, why don't you go first?

00:00:33:23 - 00:00:39:08
Rob Duarte
Sure. I'm Rob Duarte. I'm an associate professor in the Department of Art at FSU.

00:00:40:09 - 00:00:45:24
Meredith Lynn
OK, Meredith. Yeah, I'm Meredith Lynn, and I'm the curator of the Museum of Fine Arts at FSU.

00:00:46:15 - 00:00:55:15
Kat Chudy
OK, thank you. So when I was digging around, I actually found two of these shows. I don't know if you both worked on both of them or just one of them.

00:00:57:14 - 00:01:17:21
Rob Duarte
Well, you know, we did we both worked on both of them, I think. But the the the first one is probably the one that worked out better. For some reason. We can we can talk about why and how how things like that unfold. But the first one was kind of the the prototype and kind of the the one that worked out best.

00:01:18:09 - 00:01:29:14
Kat Chudy
OK. Can you walk me through how this show came about? What was the inspiration and like the process of how it developed.

00:01:31:11 - 00:02:07:06
Rob Duarte
Yeah, I can start because I kind of came to Meredith with the with the project. So I was teaching an advanced sculpture class and basically I thought that a good way to get students thinking more carefully and maybe maybe with more more at stake in in about all of the things that we normally think about with sculpture was to think about a very particular audience that required close attention to those formal aspects.

00:02:07:07 - 00:02:40:05
Rob Duarte
So things like whatever, like any, any kind of formal visual things that we might think of, but also in terms of presentation and also things like interactivity and how all that might come into play specifically for an audience that was blind or visually impaired. So that was kind of the start. And and I basically, you know, was just like most of the things I do in the classroom, I was just kind of learning at the same time as my students and just trying to figure it out.

00:02:40:05 - 00:03:10:11
Rob Duarte
And so we had someone from the FSU Visual Disabilities Department come out and talk with us. And so this was like a Ph.D. student in that program. And she brought she brought some equipment that that they use to kind of give a sense of the challenges that somebody with a visual impairment might, might experience. So they have like these goggles that you put on that that emulate different kinds of conditions.

00:03:10:11 - 00:03:30:21
Rob Duarte
And then they have like a lot of exercises that you do basically to see how much you rely on on visual cues. And so the students kind of did that stuff and and we also had someone from a an organization in the region. It's a nonprofit called Lighthouse of the Big Bend. And they work with people who are blind and visually impaired specifically.

00:03:30:21 - 00:03:54:03
Rob Duarte
And so they came out and talked with us, which was kind of a whole other kind of conversation and presentation from like a different angle And so after all that, you know, the students basically just set out to develop sculptures that would kind of think specifically about that audience and then also thinking about how it would all come together as a show.

00:03:54:15 - 00:03:59:15
Rob Duarte
And then we talked to Meredith about it and maybe Meredith can take it from there. I don't know.

00:04:00:08 - 00:04:30:24
Meredith Lynn
Yeah, sure. So, yeah, so Rob came to me and said that he was working on this project with his students and that it would be great if the projects could be shown somewhere where they would be publicly accessible so that individuals with visual impairment could actually interact with the sculptures and we are always interested in, I guess, like expanding our audience at the museum and also expanding our sensitivity to our audiences.

00:04:31:08 - 00:05:03:24
Meredith Lynn
And so we saw this as a good opportunity to not just show interesting student work that had a different focus than student work often does, but also to make some connections to folks in the community who we had not specifically tried to build connections with previously. And then also we use it as an opportunity for me and the rest of the museum staff to become a little bit more familiar with how museums can be accessible to individuals with visual impairment and blindness.

00:05:04:07 - 00:05:35:16
Meredith Lynn
And so we learned a lot about how maybe the different kinds of tools that museums can utilize pretty easily and inexpensively to make the museum experience accessible. And so I had always been under the assumption that that that like for example, that Braille was the best way to generate materials that folks with visual impairments would be able to read.

00:05:35:23 - 00:06:22:22
Meredith Lynn
And what we actually learned from this project is that at very a very low percentage of individuals with visual impairment read Braille. And that actually for the majority of folks with visual impairments, things like large type printed material is actually much more accessible than Braille. And so now in the museum, we generate accessibility guides. And so all of our printed material, we we print using our standards we have versions that are printed using standards that have been developed by individuals of studies to study visual impairment so that when people come into the museum who have a wide range of different kinds of visual impairment, they they can still read and access the materials that we

00:06:22:22 - 00:06:55:17
Meredith Lynn
produce. Because what we really learned from this experience is that visual impairment encompasses a really wide range of experience. And so the there is there's many different ways to make things more accessible to individual individuals with visual impairment. And that there are actually many of them are are not just easy to accomplish for the museum, but also can increase accessibility for all kinds of people, including people with visual impairment.

00:06:57:18 - 00:07:09:10
Kat Chudy
So how much of those practices ended up were already a part of the curatorial practice that you were doing? And how much of that changed after the show?

00:07:10:17 - 00:07:42:05
Meredith Lynn
Oh, so a lot. An awful lot changed after the show. And so we we had always printed our material that's up on the wall, according to ADA recommendations. And then also the Smithsonian has put out a pretty good accessibility guide for museums. And we used that as a sort of a starting point for things like selecting typefaces and the size of type that we used and things like that.

00:07:42:12 - 00:08:16:24
Meredith Lynn
But we had not ever printed a guide of that exact material. So like the exact same thing that's on the wall that says like the artist's name, the name of the work, and then maybe an extended label with some interpretive content. We had never printed those things in a handout. And and what we learned is that a lot of individuals with visual impairment they they may be able to read something if they can just adjust like where the where the printed material is in relationship to their eyesight.

00:08:16:24 - 00:08:36:17
Meredith Lynn
Right. So some folks could read something if it's up really close. Some folks might be able to read something if it's in the periphery. And so we started printing these guides, which is something that we had not done before. And it's really simple. We just take the, you know, the exact signage that's on the walls and redesign it a little bit and then print it.

00:08:36:17 - 00:08:58:20
Meredith Lynn
And now we have those available for all of our shows. We also now try to do everything in higher contrast which is something that we learned about. And so now when you come into the museum, if there's content that's on the wall, that that is type. So things like logos and things like that, it is a little bit easier.

00:08:58:20 - 00:09:23:14
Meredith Lynn
But for things that are that are written words, typed words, we now if those are going up in vinyl or anything like that, we select high contrast. So we'll try to have like a very light background with a dark type because again, we learned that contrast is a huge contrast, can play a huge role in whether someone can read the words on the wall or not.

00:09:23:14 - 00:09:44:11
Meredith Lynn
And so even just the other day when we were designing an exhibition that opened on Thursday, we we were thinking about cutting all the vinyl and gray and then we decided to go with black because it's just a higher contrast and would be easier to read. So little things like that have really had a big impact on us.

00:09:45:06 - 00:10:34:00
Meredith Lynn
And we do still have we have some guides that we had made previously for permanent collection objects, which we actually do have in Braille in the museum. And and I don't know that anyone has ever asked if we have anything in Braille which might indicate how useful that content really is. And so I think the other thing that this project helped us understand is that there are actually a lot of resources on campus, a lot of individuals who study accessibility and that it's it's really best to turn to experts and to also people within that community to find out hey, what really is the best way to do this?

00:10:34:00 - 00:10:49:01
Meredith Lynn
Because then you learn like, oh, it's not it's not printing something in Braille and putting it on the wall. It's printing something in high contrast, large type and handing it to people. And so, yeah, it really did impact a lot of things that we do in the museum.

00:10:49:23 - 00:11:12:21
Kat Chudy
That's really interesting. Thank you for that. Rob, I wanted to ask you about how do you feel like this affected the students and their artistic practices from that initial exposure to the experts and having them kind of walk through those experiences and the technology to the actual show itself?

00:11:14:24 - 00:11:40:10
Rob Duarte 2
Well, you know, I like to have this kind of situation where I'm just learning alongside my students. So I would say whatever they whatever they got from it, I got as well. It was a lot of it was kind of this discovering some things that feel obvious once you once you learn about it, like Meredith was saying, this kind of relying on large type and high contrast.

00:11:41:06 - 00:12:06:10
Rob Duarte
And so but then there were also other random things. It's interesting because that organization we worked with their logo and actually the interior of their building, the signage in there is all red and black. And so we kind of discovered that actually it's really intentional. And there's some we kind of learn some of the science about it, too, in terms of like red being this like last color that people are able to see before they kind of lose lose lots more.

00:12:06:10 - 00:12:34:04
Rob Duarte
And so, you know, for them, there was some technical information that they gained. They also obviously they just learned a lot about kind of these conditions. But the main thing was from the start, we sort of agreed that what we were interested in is creating work at an exhibit that was really just kind of focused on providing the same kind of experience with contemporary art that any audience would want.

00:12:34:20 - 00:12:51:03
Rob Duarte
And so that was one of the things that, you know, again, should be completely obvious, but I'm not sure it was to the students is just that this is an audience like any other that wants to engage in kind of this body of work that is critical and and kind of has a lot going on, a lot to think about.

00:12:51:03 - 00:13:21:09
Rob Duarte
And so so that was, you know, from the start, I think all the students agree that it really couldn't be sort of like a something that felt gimmicky or like a, you know, like a science fair sort of vibe. So. So with that, you know, you know, really one thing that made a huge difference for the students was this just kind of stroke of luck that the museum was and correct me if I'm wrong, Meredith, but like I think the floor was being replaced, like at the same time.

00:13:21:18 - 00:13:41:10
Rob Duarte
Yeah. So we just had like this lucky moment where we had the entire top floor of the museum, which is a great space. And then we just were also were able to do whatever we wanted because the floor is going to be scrapped. And I don't think anyone really took advantage of that opportunity. But just the fact that we had the whole top floor of the museum, it was kind of this extraordinary thing.

00:13:41:10 - 00:14:10:21
Rob Duarte 2
And so the students recognized that and made work that was really ambitious and kind of exciting. I think most of the people that went into the show were kind of confused they really didn't think it was an undergrad sculpture show. A lot of people thought it was the grad show. So, yeah, I mean, the other thing is the on the opening night, the students actually had agreed to serve as guides for this group of visually impaired people that came with Lighthouse of the Big Bend.

00:14:11:03 - 00:14:41:09
Rob Duarte
And so just the conversations that they had, because a lot of the work was also designed to be sort of accessible to any audience that, you know, there were a lot of kids and and just just by nature of the fact that all of the work was able to be touched, essentially. So, you know, they had great interactions with the kids and also parents of kids and just just random individuals who came through and said that it was like a really profound experience for them.

00:14:41:09 - 00:15:00:01
Rob Duarte
And I think it was for the students, too, to have that role as a guide. And, you know, hearing now a few years later, more than a few years later from students who have long since graduated, they're still remembering that as kind of an extraordinary moment in their time at FSU

00:15:00:18 - 00:15:25:11
Kat Chudy 1
That's incredible. How do you I know you're saying the work was very ambitious and it was meant to be touched. Can you talk more about how you feel like the work changed in response to I guess you call it the assignment the students were given Like, what did it look like? Can you give us kind of a. Yeah. Second hand experience of this?

00:15:26:21 - 00:15:55:05
Rob Duarte
Yeah. So I can kind of give you like a a quick summary of some of the things. There was there were were there was kind of electromechanical movement in sculpture. There was an interactive sculpture that was made by Sofia, and I I feel bad because I'm not going to remember everyone's last name. So I'll just I'll just refer to everyone by first names and we'll include their full information in the show notes or something.

00:15:55:21 - 00:16:21:16
Rob Duarte
But Sofia made this interactive object, which, you know, she had been in several of my classes before, and it always try these kind of technical things that kept falling apart on her. And she's a great sculptor, but as far as the technical things was never able to make it make it happen. So she was like, you know, like all of them they kind of had this idea that this show really needed to work and everything needed to be successful.

00:16:21:16 - 00:16:46:17
Rob Duarte
And so she was like, I'm going to do this really technical thing and I'm going to make it happen. And so she made this kind of interactive installation sort of it was basically kind of like a, you know, like a table with sand on it. That as you manipulated the sand, it kind of changed in real time. This the choreography of this or the composition of this sound and music thing that was going on.

00:16:46:23 - 00:17:23:03
Rob Duarte
And that was kind of like one of the more popular things. And then, you know, and that sort of fit in with this idea that there was like an auditory component to it. There was this hands on tactile aspect, and there was, you know, she had to think about details like, OK, we can't we have to use place hand for this because actually one of the things we found out was that people's hands are really kind of you know, it's it's important to be respectful of people's hands who are using them potentially for Braille and also as a maybe like a way and kind of a sense that they have to rely on more than

00:17:23:04 - 00:17:46:07
Rob Duarte
than the average person who doesn't have a visual impairment. So thinking specifically about the sand and that it should be play sand and not, you know, sand that we might mix with concrete or something sharp sand. So all these little details kept coming up along the way. But that that one was was on the more interactive and hands on side.

00:17:46:07 - 00:18:14:04
Rob Duarte
And then there was also a really large installation that used by Maddie Wishart, and she used dozens of these long fluorescent tubes and lit this whole area of the of the museum in this kind of airport terminal feel. And it was super bright in there and it kind of had like a runway that you walked all the way to the end.

00:18:14:04 - 00:18:33:12
Rob Duarte
And there was kind of like a ticket dispenser that had some printed matter that she made. So she was thinking about relational aesthetics. This was also a part of her BFA thesis. She kind of made something else that was related to all of these things that she was thinking about. So it really felt like for a lot of them, it was like a culmination of work that they had already been doing.

00:18:33:12 - 00:18:55:15
Rob Duarte
And now they were having to put like this really fine point on all of these formal and really just kind of everything became more thoughtful and considered. So I mean, and also kind of for some of the pieces, it was just about the scale of it. And being in this big space, they also felt this real demand to to live up to the space that they were given.

00:18:55:15 - 00:19:18:01
Rob Duarte
So I mean, it was it was a great show. And I think if nobody realized that that it was specifically for this audience that were intending, they would just think it was a great sculpture show. And that was part of it, too. Something that Meredith alluded to, this idea that we can start thinking about designing for specific impairments.

00:19:18:01 - 00:19:36:12
Rob Duarte
But then maybe, you know, something that we're considering is like really as as the show developed, you realized that you really trying to make design decisions that kind of are better for everyone at the same time. And so that became sort of a theme, at least in developing the show in the work, too.

00:19:37:02 - 00:19:57:18
Meredith Lynn
Oh, I was going to say, Rob do you remember, there was the there was one that smelled it was like I think Charlie made it. It was a tube because it had almost like a microphone, kind of an old timey microphone looking thing at the end. And you would smell content that was inside a plastic like under a plastic hood.

00:19:58:11 - 00:20:21:12
Meredith Lynn
That one was really cool. And so I think that all together they sort of every the all of the projects put together, hit every sense possible. So there was there were things to smell. There were things to hear, things to see. Things to feel. I don't know that I don't know that anything that you ate, anything. I don't think we had any food.

00:20:21:12 - 00:20:41:09
Rob Duarte
No, I think I think that did come up, though. And it's funny because I don't know that we ever had that discussion, really, that we were in some way addressing all of the senses. But I think you're totally right. I don't yeah. I don't know that the well and so, Charlie, again, it was just a great piece, like, you know, whether it is for this specific show or not.

00:20:41:16 - 00:21:03:24
Rob Duarte
And so, yeah, it was these vitrines and one of them was kind of wafting out this smell of lemongrass. And the lemongrass was actually in the in this vitrine. And then the other one was, I think like maybe like charred hickory or something. And and there was like a little fan inside each one. And yeah. So I don't know, somehow that felt like it was I mean, I guess there's a lot of overlap in the senses anyway.

00:21:03:24 - 00:21:07:19
Rob Duarte
But that one felt like there was like some taste element to it somehow.

00:21:08:04 - 00:21:47:18
Meredith Lynn
Yeah. And and what I remember is that all of the projects were so well made and well crafted. And I think, again, that comes back to the students knowing that, that people could be touching them and that and so that they had to be well-made. They couldn't fall over. If you touched it, there couldn't be any sharp edges or any rough spots and so I think that that, that work in particular, I think the students really thought about the details of craft in that work out in a really heightened way.

00:21:47:23 - 00:22:18:05
Meredith Lynn
And then and then the next semester, many of those students were graduating BFA students. And so the next semester they did their BFA thesis projects. And and so many of the lessons that they learned from doing extra sensory came up in their BFA shows. So many of those students for their BFA thesis projects created things that you could touch, that you could walk through, that that you could interact with in a in a different way.

00:22:18:05 - 00:22:33:01
Meredith Lynn
Then then I think they may have done if they hadn't done that project. And so I think it really did have a big impact on on what they on their art practice and what they went on to do in the rest of their career here.

00:22:33:15 - 00:22:58:17
Rob Duarte
I totally think so. And some of the work was connected. Definitely. Dylan. Yeah. I mean, in Dylan's thesis show, he had kind of like this space shuttle with a steel structure that was, you know, ten feet in the air, weighed hundreds and hundreds of pounds. It's kind of felt like a continuation of this exercise of trying to figure out how to make ambitious work that can actually live in this space and, and be touched.

00:22:59:01 - 00:23:19:06
Rob Duarte
It was kind of like a particular challenge. Some of the things took some real abuse from the kids that were there. And so it was a nice it was a nice, it was a nice learning experience, but it was totally also preparation for that next show. And I totally think there was some really ambitious work in that show that was just kind of a continuation.

00:23:19:12 - 00:23:43:14
Rob Duarte
I also, you know, something else I was thinking of as you were describing this is, you know, like they there were a couple instances where students later during their thesis when they were talking about their work there came up connections about kind of visual impairment and that audience and I don't know if it was still on people's minds from the other show or if they it just it somehow made its way into the conversation of this other work.

00:23:43:21 - 00:24:05:04
Rob Duarte
But a couple of times I totally heard students sort of like, oh, no, you don't understand. Let me let me explain to you how it actually works, you know, how what the challenges are for that audience. And and so they sort of had become experts of their own and I just, you know, that was my experience in undergrad was that I had some incredible mentors.

00:24:05:04 - 00:24:20:02
Rob Duarte
And it was really like these extraordinary learning experiences that that felt like we were all becoming experts to some degree, that we had, you know, some knowledge to share that was uniquely ours. And so that was something really cool about the whole project for me.

00:24:21:01 - 00:24:36:12
Kat Chudy
Meredith, you mentioned Craft. I wanted to ask about the sturdiness, but Rob, you touched on that. So I guess either of you can answer both. Was that a consideration when the students were making the work, or was that something that just came up after the fact?

00:24:37:20 - 00:25:01:21
Meredith Lynn
I think for us, whenever anything is installed in the museum, safety is always one of our the first things that we think about, especially with something that's meant to be interactive or something that's very heavy, something that could fall over. And so whenever I meet with students who are planning on on doing any kind of work in the museum, I tell them, you know, this is a space where the public is going to come in.

00:25:02:02 - 00:25:27:08
Meredith Lynn
And my first- my first job is to make sure that no one who walks into the museum is physically or emotionally or mentally hurt by anything that's in here. And so I know I trust Rob completely and fully. And so if he says that the students are going to make things that are going to be really well made, I know that they are.

00:25:27:08 - 00:26:09:15
Meredith Lynn
And I also know that they had gone through this this really important process of meeting with different experts and considering what they were going to do. They had to first have plans, ideas of what they wanted to do. And they came over to the museum and shared with me what they were planning on doing and before they made too much progress on it and we discussed potential issues that could arise and then for the most part, they I think they all actually executed pretty closely some version of what they had set forward to execute, which is also really special.

00:26:09:15 - 00:26:34:18
Meredith Lynn
That doesn't always happen. And and they took it really seriously. You know, what they were making how they were making it and whether it was going to hold up to the kind of experience that that that artwork was going to have. Right. Because people were going to interact with it slightly differently than than we might normally expect. And and they did a really good job.

00:26:34:18 - 00:26:59:03
Meredith Lynn
I don't I don't think any of the projects seen had any had any issues, which again, is kind of unusual, especially for undergrad students, because usually what happens is you build something and if it's your first time building something and then putting it out in the public, I think sometimes it's hard to anticipate what's going to happen to it.

00:26:59:09 - 00:27:22:13
Meredith Lynn
And so a lot of times when students are installing work in the museum, there are many issues that come up through that installation process and they have to do a lot of problem solving on the spot. And this show actually went really smoothly and I think that it was because the students had to be really sensitive and really thoughtful in the way everything was constructed.

00:27:23:22 - 00:27:28:20
Meredith Lynn
And I can't. Rob, do you I don't think anything broke or.

00:27:29:15 - 00:27:53:19
Rob Duarte
Well, yeah. I mean, Riona had made this kind of physics-defying sculpture that was made of FDR and and all of these other materials that were really it was going to be a challenge to have them stand up to rough handling. And there were some kids that were sort of acting like it was a jungle gym. So that was one that that took some real abuse.

00:27:53:19 - 00:28:28:00
Rob Duarte
But she she was kind of totally taking it in good spirits. And it was it was, again, just a lesson in, in and I think I think she and others were intentionally trying to be ambitious in that way, but also keep things safe. You know, the experience of having work in the museum that has to they don't really normally get that those thoughts about, you know, challenge to really think about those elements of presentation and safety and things like that until the thesis normally.

00:28:28:00 - 00:28:44:22
Rob Duarte
So this was kind of a head start for them. But this particular cohort was really they took everything pretty seriously and I kind of set out, at least in this course, I had set out right at the start that safety was going to be our priority. And it was partly thinking about the use of machines and so on.

00:28:44:22 - 00:29:03:01
Rob Duarte
But also thinking about the safety of the audience for this bigger show that happened during the semester. And they were they were kind of a bunch of this is like this cohort of students I love them. And they were also a bunch of clowns. And they they totally made safety shirts that they wore in the shop and didn't tell me that.

00:29:03:01 - 00:29:33:12
Rob Duarte
That's why they were wearing them. And and I got them all these Taco Bell zero accidents pins that I found on eBay at the end of the semester. So safety was kind of a theme throughout the whole semester. And, you know, there was actually some work that didn't that wasn't going to work. And they just as a group, because it was their show and they were in charge of everything, they they just were like together, including the students whose work was not coming together.

00:29:33:20 - 00:29:51:05
Rob Duarte
The way that it should have. They just were like, OK, this work is just not going to make it in. And so there were a couple of pieces that didn't make it in. And so they were kind of they were the artists and also curating a bit and and also the preparators and safety patrol and everything all in one.

00:29:51:05 - 00:29:53:01
Rob Duarte
It was it was kind of all-encompassing.

00:29:54:09 - 00:30:01:15
Meredith Lynn
I think the the closest call that I remember, do you remember, the very large tree trunk that was in the show?

00:30:02:19 - 00:30:05:22
Rob Duarte
Yeah. Which weighed like probably at least 750 lbs.

00:30:06:03 - 00:30:31:02
Meredith Lynn
Yes. Yes. And I remember we the student who, whose piece that was had it. Yes, Rodney, he had it on he had it on a dolly. And he was when we were installing it he had to wheel it back down to the sculpture studio. And I asked, I was like, oh, how are you going to, how are you going to get it through the building?

00:30:31:02 - 00:30:52:17
Meredith Lynn
And he was like, I'm going to go outside. And I was like, OK, so you're going to wheel it down the hill where there's this little hill that ends in Tennessee, which is the busiest street in town maybe. And and I was like, I can't, I can't let you wheel this 750-pound tree down this hill into Tennessee because you're going to you're going to hurt someone.

00:30:53:13 - 00:31:17:12
Meredith Lynn
And so that was I think that was the closest. And then we and so we got a team of like six people to wheel it. And I think someone did slip and skin their knee doing that. And that was really the the worst the worst that we had but but otherwise from our end, from the museum side of things, it, it went very, very well.

00:31:17:12 - 00:31:48:24
Meredith Lynn
And, and I did I knew that there were some technical things that were happening in the studio, just some, some students having really ambitious projects and then not being able to quite make the tech work which is, is really normal. And honestly, from my perspective, it's, it's really great when things like that happen because then when the students are approaching their next show and their next opportunity, they're so much better prepared to problem solve.

00:31:48:24 - 00:32:13:07
Meredith Lynn
And so I always think of any experience that students are having in a museum as being a kind of training for a professional moment that hopefully they'll have once they graduate. And so I'm I'm kind of always a little excited and happy when things don't quite work out and they have to learn something from it because when students just walk in the door with like five paintings that they hang on the wall, that's that's one great experience.

00:32:13:07 - 00:32:18:13
Meredith Lynn
But in some ways it's better when they come in and something fails a little bit and they have to learn from it.

00:32:18:20 - 00:32:40:02
Kat Chudy
So I wanted to ask about it sounds like you didn't have any problems with participation, but I know a lot of people hesitate when they go to put on shows that require audience participation, especially nonconventional ways. Did you see any hesitation like that from the audience or were they just kind of ready to dive in to all this stuff?

00:32:40:21 - 00:32:41:09
Meredith Lynn
Oh, well.

00:32:41:09 - 00:33:10:17
Meredith Lynn
From my perspective, the the main issue with getting people to feel comfortable with engagement is making it really clear that they are invited to engage and making it clear how how they can engage. And then also making it clear that there is something there is a good experience to be had, even if they don't choose to do the interactive part of it.

00:33:11:13 - 00:33:31:16
Meredith Lynn
And so I'm always thinking about how different audience members are going to come in and they're going to be comfortable with different kinds of participation and so making sure that if something is participatory, that there are different ways to participate and that there that there is something that an audience member who doesn't participate can still get from it.

00:33:32:12 - 00:33:55:04
Meredith Lynn
And then also just making the terms of engagement really clear, because I think it's when you when there's any confusion, if someone of an audience member walks up to a thing and isn't quite sure, am I allowed to touch this? Am I allowed to smell this, am I you know, what am I supposed to do with this? That's when I think people get really turned off from participating and so on.

00:33:55:13 - 00:34:20:09
Meredith Lynn
Things like having the students do tours so that anyone who walked in the door, they were specifically and directly invited to participate by the artist themselves and sort of guided through that experience very directly. That helps. But I think also just being really, really clear, hey, this is a thing that you can touch and here's where you here's how you start.

00:34:20:17 - 00:34:45:03
Meredith Lynn
Like put your hand. You know put your hand here and see what happens when you do that. That's that really establishes that relationship. And then also, this is something that I bring up with students a lot is what does the participant get from participating right? Is it are they getting something interesting, something special? Is it worth it for them to participate?

00:34:45:10 - 00:35:04:22
Meredith Lynn
And in the case of these projects, they there was something cool that happened when they participated. And so I think that we actually because the whole premise of the show was that the work was interactive in different ways. I think people actually felt pretty comfortable interacting with it.

00:35:06:12 - 00:35:25:07
Rob Duarte
Yeah, it can be it can be pretty clunky when it's really prescriptive. Like, you know, here's how you interact with this piece when you really sometimes want people to discover these things naturally. And, and to have it be that kind of experience. This show was just, you know, it was sort of lucky in that everything was like that.

00:35:25:07 - 00:36:01:17
Rob Duarte
So it didn't require that that same attention, that one interactive piece among others, that that aren't meant to be touched has to deal with. So my concern really was for our specific audience that we were thinking about. And so, you know, in that opening night when most of the people there we had, we had kind of a pre-opening so that there wouldn't be kind of this mob of people because of noise sensitivities we wanted to have kind of like an hour beforehand where people from Lighthouse were were invited.

00:36:01:17 - 00:36:21:21
Rob Duarte
And so, you know, during that, it really was that we everyone had a guide with them. So that was a different situation. But I visited the show all the time that was open. I just kind of like came in every so often. And any time I went in there, it was kind of extraordinary. There was always someone in there who had a visual impairment.

00:36:21:21 - 00:37:01:20
Rob Duarte
And so I don't know if word had gotten around or if they were just coming because of the connection with Lighthouse. But, you know, I would sort of look around and I talked with people that were there just kind of randomly and and you know, I think mostly it's, you know, maybe maybe it's ironic or maybe it's just kind of again, this sort of learning experience and and our assumptions that aren't necessarily correct, but mostly the people that were there were excited about the fact that it was kind of a show that felt like it was really thoughtful and considered and it was good work that was presented well and that they were invited to

00:37:01:20 - 00:37:21:06
Rob Duarte
be a part of it. And it wasn't so much that they could touch it or, you know, it sort of felt like that was, you know, more than kind of a practical consideration. It was more the invitation and the invitation to be included felt like the special thing about the show for a lot of people, I think.

00:37:22:03 - 00:37:37:08
Kat Chudy
Well, from talking to both of you, it sounds like you may have inadvertently created some advocates that are now out there in the world and more than willing to explain these things to people that might not understand. So that's that's a wonderful thing.

00:37:38:02 - 00:37:39:03
Rob Duarte
Yeah. You mean the students?

00:37:39:05 - 00:37:39:18
Kat Chudy
Yeah.

00:37:40:01 - 00:37:41:03
Rob Duarte
Yeah, totally. Totally.

00:37:41:03 - 00:37:49:03
Kat Chudy
You were talking about them explaining things to people having come to see the show. I'm sure that's going to carry forward throughout their lives as well.

00:37:50:04 - 00:38:07:02
Rob Duarte
Yeah. And, you know, that's that was kind of the intention was to have this moment that's really outside of the normal cycle of, hey, let's do this project. And, you know, we'll look at it and talk about it together and maybe a few people will see it. And then we'll you can toss it in the trash on the way out of school.

00:38:07:02 - 00:38:21:01
Rob Duarte
It was like it felt a lot more special and precious than that. And so I think you know, besides the actual work feeling like that, it was kind of the experience of the whole thing that felt like it would be kind of lasting. It seems like it has.

00:38:21:11 - 00:38:35:08
Kat Chudy
Yeah. Well, I feel like you guys covered all the bases. I guess my only question for both of you to wrap this up is I know you did a second one. Are you planning on revisiting this idea again, especially because it sounds like it was so successful?

00:38:36:24 - 00:38:57:09
Rob Duarte
Yeah, I would like to do it again. I don't know what happened the second time. You know, the organization that we're working with just kind of I don't I don't really know how communication didn't happen, but but they they were invited to be a part of again, I felt like it was really successful for all the people that they work with.

00:38:57:24 - 00:39:20:24
Rob Duarte
You know, I wasn't in the organization, though. Maybe it was work on their part that they wanted to take a break from or something. But I think you know, I also have like a a short attention span. So I feel like we we learned from this. And I want to think more about other audiences that might have other challenges.

00:39:20:24 - 00:39:43:16
Rob Duarte
And and maybe that will be the next one is not specifically thinking about visual impairment, but are there others and we do that often in the digital fabrication class that I teach. But from a design perspective, sometimes we have sort of like it's a it's a studio art class but occasionally we kind of introduce design and that design for everyone sort of ethos is something that we visit.

00:39:44:15 - 00:40:08:20
Rob Duarte
I yeah, I would like to have the show happen again and I, I also want to make sure that, you know, I kind of facilitated the whole thing, but it absolutely was a show of these students and they did tons of work. So I'll make sure you have all of their, their information to credit them because they were, they were kind of like the driving force behind it too.

00:40:09:04 - 00:40:11:15
Kat Chudy
Yeah. If you have pictures also, that would be fantastic.

00:40:11:22 - 00:40:12:06
Rob Duarte
Yeah.

00:40:13:02 - 00:40:44:05
Meredith Lynn
Yeah, we would from the museum's perspective, we would definitely do something like this again. I think we we are really interested and dedicated to being better being better at serving our audiences and thinking about what they need and being sensitive to what they need. And so, you know, just thinking about the possibility for something like this to happen again, but maybe, yeah, thinking of different kinds of audiences that we may currently not be serving very well.

00:40:45:06 - 00:41:07:05
Meredith Lynn
That would be really exciting. And and the museum is always a plug, always a space for student invention and exploration and conversation. And so projects like this really, I think hit so many of the things that are core to our mission. So yeah, we would be happy to do something like this again.

00:41:08:12 - 00:41:22:17
Rob Duarte
Yeah, we should we should talk about Meredith. We should talk about because we Meredith and I and some of the people who are involved presented at the do you remember the name of the little the symposium.

00:41:23:22 - 00:41:29:20
Meredith Lynn
It had it had an wasn't it an acronym name that made a word like.

00:41:30:15 - 00:41:59:01
Rob Duarte
Yeah, but it was kind of like initiatives within the university that were around diversity and inclusion. And so we presented, you know, later about the show that we, that, that we had done at the museum and so one of the things that we heard was actually some of the students from the Visual Disabilities Program, doctoral students were a couple of them were asking how or, you know, like how to include actually artists who were visually impaired.

00:41:59:09 - 00:42:14:13
Rob Duarte
And it was like, oh, that's a great idea. It was a different show. It wasn't like it was a failure of this show to not include those artists that that was, you know, obviously not possible within the framework that we had. But that's like a different kind of show that I'd be interested in figuring out how to make happen, too.

00:42:15:12 - 00:42:49:13
Kat Chudy
I met an artist in Canada when I was up there for a conference, Bruce Horack, who was on Star Trek, I don't remember which show, but he was one of the first blind actors. He actually makes paintings, and this was several years back. I, I hadn't conceived of that as a possibility. I had my own biases. So when I met him and I saw his work, it really challenged my idea of what blindness is because we tend to think about it in black and white terms.

00:42:49:13 - 00:43:05:01
Kat Chudy
But he still had some vision that he could work with. It was just not enough to drive a car or do things like that. So it was more seeing where those lines lay and what your ideas of that experience are and how those can be incorrect.

00:43:05:24 - 00:43:14:06
Rob Duarte
Yeah, that was one of the things we learned really early on was that it's actually quite rare for people to have no vision whatsoever. It's always some some part of that spectrum.

00:43:16:11 - 00:43:25:14
Kat Chudy
Well, thank you both. This is an amazing conversation. Thank you for sharing everything about the extra sensory show. I really appreciate it.

00:43:26:09 - 00:43:30:12
Meredith Lynn
Yeah, thank you, Kat. Thanks for asking us and for being interested in the project.

00:43:32:10 - 00:43:52:24
Kat Chudy
Thank you so much to both Rob and Meredith for being willing to come on the podcast and talk with me so that I could share all of this information with you. I have been getting links from both of them for the show and the pictures of the show, as well as links to some of the other resources that were mentioned just such as Lighthouse.

00:43:53:07 - 00:44:16:01
Kat Chudy
I will be putting those links in my YouTube channel underneath the video post and I'll see if I can find a way to put those in the Spotify notes. As well. And this will be the first episode that has full transcription for the audio. Very excited about this. We are of course correcting and learning as we go along and things will only get better as the podcast evolves.

00:44:16:15 - 00:44:49:05
Kat Chudy
Next time we're going to be talking to Jenny Abeyta, who is the current prop master at Peoria Theater Works, and we're going to be having a conversation between the two of us about how quitting can be a form of access when all else fails. I hope that you will tune in next time. If you are following on the YouTube channel, please subscribe and give us like if you are following on Spotify, go ahead and subscribe and you can keep up to date whenever the next episode comes out.

00:44:50:02 - 00:44:52:15
Kat Chudy
I hope you all have a great day and thanks for listening.