Encouraging curiosity and exploration, the ground floor installation unlocks the stories of iconic Bristolian places, people and objects in a ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ format. The hand-drawn illustrations respond to a visitor’s touch, triggering a variety of animations and sounds. Across the illustrated mural, local landmarks such as Clifton Suspension Bridge, Bristol harbourside and St Nicholas Market are depicted, as well as symbols of Bristol’s music and food culture. It also includes iconic scientist Albert Einstein, who famously said, “I have no special talent, I am only passionately curious.”
Live illustrations draw visitors in; bicycle wheels and cogs begin to spin, a hot-air balloon takes flight (representing the Bristol International Balloon Fiesta). When visitors approach and inquisitively press a touch point, a motion springs into action and tells the story of that landmark. The stories are informative but not too literal and told from a Bristolian perspective – with voices supplied by staff, volunteers and visitors to We The Curious. The accompanying animations are abstracted and humorous.
The storytelling ranges from one-action animations and stories, others encourage further interaction – to add an extra element of exploration and fun – secret touchpoints across the installation trigger hidden animations. A live science team member is also on-hand to suggest ways of expanding on a topic and continuing the journey. To maximise engagement and impact, we created short, simple animations of no more than 10 seconds long.
Like a smartphone touchscreen, the wall makes use of capacitive sensing. Copper concealed behind the touch surface detects the change in capacitance as users move their hands. The animations are projected onto the touch surface, augmenting the illustrations for contextual storytelling.
Following £3m of funding awarded by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and the Wellcome Inspiring Science Fund, At-Bristol Science Centre relaunched in September 2017 with a new direction and intention to create a culture of curiosity, which was accompanied by a redeveloped foyer, shop and café, and a new name to match the mission: ‘We The Curious’.
The new installation fits with We The Curious’ manifesto pledges to create a curious, open, collaborative and playful experience and will act as a springboard for the following redevelopment of the entire ground floor over the next few years. It will be a creative, multi-disciplinary space and movement, where science and culture collide and collaborate.
The interactive installation is a continuation of an award-winning concept developed by our digital team.
Keith Ware is once again judging at the VMRD Awards.
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