Agggges ago I did a post about Rediscovering the object, where I mentioned Beau Lotto’s talk entitled Making Space for seeing Myself See. Since my recent posts have been about butterflies and bunnies it is a perfect time to go back to Beau and his Bees.
Beau was brilliant he is a really engaging speaker and you can tell he is genuinely passionate about what he does. Beau discussed how neuroscience redefines normality, the brain didn’t evolve to see the way the world is. It’s a case of perceptual reality vs physical reality. This is why context is important, because the brain evolves continually to redefine normality. Confused?
Right. So humans are defined by their interactions and interaction in general. Which is why it is so important to engage the public in everything that we do, whether that be in a museum, university, research whatever. It is an important part of the process of making sense, gaining understanding and ultimately learning.
Therefore Beau’s lab: LottoLab does sort of street science where they take real experiments and scientific experiences into public spaces. One of which was Seeing Myself See at the Wellcome Collection. Now I actually accidently stumbled across the Seeing Myself See event when my parents came down for a visit, and we were dying for a cup of tea and of course headed straight to the Wellcome Collection tea room. So it was nice a week or two later to attend a conference where it was being discussed in more detail.
The basic premise is that the experiments attempt to rejig people’s perception construction by replacing one sense (in this case seeing) with another (hearing and touching). Firstly The Seeing Instruments. Now these were quite strange, Three instruments made from wood, which I only now realise contained a camera that people can hold (its well hidden). Participants can use this to scan themselves and colourful aprons to create different sounds and rhythms. It was very disorientating as when all the instruments are in use, you can’t really tell that it’s your colours that are playing. But in principle it’s pretty cool, producing ‘rhythms of colour’. It was really interesting seeing other people’s reactions to the instruments, and it was great trying to work out which colour played which note.
Beau mostly focused on the Bee Matrix and an experiment he developed in collaboration with primary school children on the colour vision of bumblebees. What is fantastic is that Beau really gave ownership over to the children, not only producing a genuinely novel scientific experiement, but also developing a genius model for science education. It was a brilliant talk, really emphasising how interaction and engagement particularly with children makes for a fantastic learning experience, it also makes science real, understandable and cool. Beau couldn’t express enough that interaction is more important than the final outcome, and it is the process which is really interesting not the end product. At the Wellcome, I couldn’t get near the bee matrix, because it was constantly surrounded by lots of people who were all clearly fascinated. It was also very noisy. Again it was really good to listen to Beau explaining how it all worked. It definitely gave me an insight into bee behaviour and who knew you could train bees?
Heres a video about Seeing Myself See at the Wellcome, it gives you a pretty good idea about what was going on.