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"What Inspires Your Research?" An Interactive Story Wall pop-up helps researchers see shared purpose

"What Inspires Your Research?" An Interactive Story Wall pop-up helps researchers see shared purpose

Tricia Walker's picture
Tricia Walker
July 10th, 2018

popup pop-up graphic facilitation recording scribing storytelling prompt ask questions scribe answers listening
[Photo: Ron Bosse, Bosse Studios]

We recently partnered with the global life-sciences company Abcam to deliver a popup event in Kendall Square. The goal of the event was to help local researchers recharge and reset. Located at the heart of the MIT campus, Kendall Square is a natural thoroughfare for some of the world’s great scientific researchers. As such, it represents the perfect locale for tapping into their collective wisdom. We saw an opportunity to enable researchers to inspire one another, to reconnect with their own sources of motivation, and to provide the broader public with a window into what makes them tick.

Our vision:

Create a real-time “art installation” that would visually communicate over 100 responses to the question:

“What inspires your research?”

Our approach:

This was to be a pop-up style adaptation of our Interactive Story Walls. It’s a fairly simple process: we provide a prompt or question, listen with care, and draw the stories that emerge.

We began by constructing six large black foam core boards into triads at the center of the Square. Members of the Abcam team conducted short interviews with passersby and handed off their responses to my fellow CN scribe, Erin King and me. Armed with a myriad of markers and over 100 white (molecule-inspired) hexagonal cutouts, we then used text and imagery to translate each researchers response onto the hexagons.

The result:

By the end of the day, the towers were covered with interlocking hexagons conveying the multitude of sources of inspiration fueling this community of researchers. Everything from music, art and the natural world, to first hand experiences with illness and an insatiable quest to keep learning drives their work. This temporary installation, transformed passersby into a community and brought forward the humanity we all share. The columns now stand in the Abcam offices as powerful reminders of the people they serve.

popup pop-up graphic facilitation recording scribing storytelling prompt ask questions scribe answers listening

popup pop-up graphic facilitation recording scribing storytelling prompt ask questions scribe answers listening

popup pop-up graphic facilitation recording scribing storytelling prompt ask questions scribe answers listening

popup pop-up graphic facilitation recording scribing storytelling prompt ask questions scribe answers listening
[Photos above: Ron Bosse, Bosse Studios]

popup pop-up graphic facilitation recording scribing storytelling prompt ask questions scribe answers listening

[Photo: Abcam; Final illustrations on display at Abcam offices]

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