We will soon be posting more impressions about and accounts of the Media Places conference that ended yesterday. First, a reflection on use of space. The conference combined several different modalities: conference-like presentations, showcases, artistic performances, academic performance, workshops and moving between different spaces (in particular making use of HUMlab as a space and media place). I will be making a few reflections on the use of space. This is the first one.
The film clip from below is from Friday morning and Lynn Spigel’s great talk on Imagining the Smart Home.
Formally, this slot was a traditional conference (key note like) presentation with 40 minutes presentation time and time for questions and comments. We use an ipad to keep track of time. The speaker sees a full-screen countdown clock. One interesting observation I made – as the moderator – was that this screen ideally has to be placed so both the speaker and the moderator see it. This may seem like a small detail, but like many other details or material configurations in a media place, quite important. So the point of the clock is not only to give information to the speaker about time left, but also to empower the moderator, and to create a shared sensibility of time based on the one ipad screen (the clock of which shows the number of minutes allotted, not actual time).
In any case, the clip shows how conference participants have distributed themselves throughout the space. For one thing, and this is quite common, few people choose to sit upfront (the first row). What is interesting here I think, is how the back of the lab is used and also how people disperse towards the sides of the space. We also use some side screens for twitter content.
The use of the back of the space, with coaches and a kind of coziness coming from the lower ceiling there, depends fairly heavily on the second screen placed there (a large mobile screen), which enables people to see what is shown on the big screen upfront. Actually, it may well be that you see that content better from the back position compared to sitting at medium distance facing the large screen. It is fairly noteworthy, I think, how many people prefer the back of the room, and how this space becomes both connected and separated, and the role the shared but distributed screens play here. Another all-important factor here is the use of microphones and a sound system to project sound (what the speaker says, participant comments, computer sound etc.) into the whole of the space.