Project brings England's historic statues 'to life'

Posted by pt91 at Oct 27, 2014 10:03 AM |
University of Leicester to assess innovative work that gives statues their ‘inner voice’

Issued by University of Leicester Press Office on 27 October 2014

Images of the talking statues available at: http://www.talkingstatues.co.uk/statues.html

The University of Leicester is a partner in an innovative project that has seen statues across the country ‘come alive’ and ‘speak’ to passers-by.

Sherlock Holmes, Isaac Newton, Peter Pan, Queen Victoria – as well as Hodge the Cat, a goat and Whittington’s cat are some of the statues to find a voice in London.  In Manchester, Lowry and Turing are among those who have speaking parts.

Arts organisation Sing London has commissioned some of the nation's most celebrated writers and actors to animate 35 public statues across London and Manchester. Pass a Talking Statue, swipe your phone on a nearby tag and hey presto: your phone rings. And it's Queen Victoria on the line... or Peter Pan... or Abe Lincoln...

Using drama, humour and location technology, Talking Statues breathes new life into the statues that surround us all. People can access the monologues though QR codes and short URLs.  This means that anyone with a smartphone can listen.

This project also sets out to explore how Near Field Communication (NFC) –available in latest iPhones - has the potential to overcome barriers to culture and the arts by animating public spaces and forging new cultural links to engage audiences. For example, a statue of Samuel Johnson might link the user to the British Library’s copy of Johnson’s Dictionary of the English Language.

NFC’s potential also lies in its ease of use. Unlike QR codes (which require users to download a reader then scan a 2D barcode) NFC enables content to be streamed directly from the web via a wireless network (3G, 4G, Wi-Fi). Through Talking Statues, the swipe of a smartphone enables spontaneous and immediate access to artistic experiences in public spaces. Aiming to reach at least 100,000 users, Talking Statues will create public benefit by:

Talking Statues is a collaborative project between Sing London, Antenna International and the University of Leicester’s  Research Centre for Museums and Galleries (RCMG).

Jocelyn Dodd, Director of RCMG in the School of Museum Studies, University of Leicester, said: “We are undertaking the research element of this project and are in the process of analysing data. Our research will examine how people engage with and experience Talking Statues? To what extent does Talking Statues and its use of NFC enhance cultural encounters?

“We will be reporting on the research findings at the end of October.”

• The Digital R&D Fund for the Arts is supported by Nesta, Arts & Humanities Research Council and public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England.

Ends

Notes to editors:

For more information contact Jocelyn Dodd on 0116 252 2995 or at: jad25@le.ac.uk

Sing London,the lead partner for this project, is a not-for-profit arts organisation www.singlondon.org which develops projects that aim to lift the public’s spirit by connecting them to each other and to the physical spaces around them. Projects can be city-wide or developed on a national basis, but the common aim is to make participation feel irresistible. Ultimately, Sing London’s projects offer ways to create a sense of community and of belonging; by taking part in something, you feel a part of it.

Sing London’s projects include:

  • Sing London (2007) – working with London’s major museums, theatres and galleries to create a festival uniting the city in shared song;
  • Street Pianos Project (2009) - working with artist Luke Jerram to place 30 street pianos across London, engaging press and public alike;
  • Talking Rubbish (2011) – in partnership with Keep Britain Tidy, Sing London’s Talking Rubbish bins got people talking about litter and captured the imaginations of the world’s press;
  • Ping! (2010-12) - 700 Ping-Pong tables were installed across public landmarks, from airports to art galleries. Funded by Sport England, the project worked with partners like Tate, Barbican, Science Museum and the British Library.

Antenna International is the technology partner for Talking Statues and the world leader in handheld audio and multimedia interpretation in the global cultural arena. They have created mobile interpretations and museum guides for over 1,200 cultural sites. For Talking Statues they plan to work with Wooshping (formerly Tagonics), who are specialist innovators in NFC enabled technology. Their role in the project is to develop and maintain the technology for Talking Statues, and to generate and collect quantitative data from users of the statues (data analytics) which will be analysed by RCMG.

RCMG at the University of Leicester is the research partner for Talking Statues, undertaking qualitative and quantitative analysis of users’ experiences of selected statues across London. It will investigate users’ experiences and attitudes and values, their use of the technology and whether engagement with Talking Statues creates pathways and connections to new, and other, cultural encounters in the city. RCMG will also examine whether encounters with Talking Statues overcome barriers to culture, heritage and the arts?

The talking Statues website/images at: http://www.talkingstatues.co.uk/statues.html

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