Information processing and retention can be enhanced by using more than one sense with which to experience a stimuli. Psychologists and advertisers of products know this (e.g. Gallo 2018) and often employ workers to promote products through speaking with potential customers, giving them written information and inviting them to touch and try the items. My intention with the images included in the former Beauty and the Beach and current Out-Sight-In exhibitions has been to make opportunities available for visitors to experience the images through different senses. The consequence or result would hopefully be that they not only have a memory of the images but also an understanding of the narrative behind them and with reflection can make decisions about their personal contributions to addressing the issues raised by the project. My aim was not necessarily to ‘sell’ my products but rather to raise awareness of the story behind them.
Speaking about deconstructing the ‘ad’ Katherine Toland Frith pointed out that:
“Analyzing the cultural context of an advertisement involves both verbal and visual aspects of the advertising text to determine not only the primary sales message but also the secondary social or cultural messages.” (Toland Frith 2015: 4)
Applying this to my images viewers see the subject matter and form a ‘surface’ meaning. With accompanying written information my ‘intended message or meaning’ is transmitted and using the actual subject matter for discussion delves deeper into the viewers ability to make sense of what they are seeing and understand the ‘cultural or ideological message’. Using multiple ways to reach the senses and convey my intended aims does facilitate going beyond the surface meaning some have ascribed to the images as being beautiful and at the same time being at risk of not necessarily conveying the significant and overwhelming global problem of waste matter we now face.
Although taste and smell were not included in the presentations, vision, hearing and touch were. In doing this I was also making the exhibitions more inclusive and accessible for those people with sensory impairments or of a young age where responses to accompanying auditory and tactile information are stronger than passive viewing of visual stimuli alone.
Visual stimuli included the images themselves and the different surfaces they were printed on including paper, board, magnets, glass and fabric, the former three in Out-Sight-In and latter two being used in Beauty and the Beach. Additional visual stimuli included a slide show and powerpoint presentation, thumbnail images on feedback sheets and seeing some of the actual beach debris finds.
Auditory stimuli included Artist’s talks at exhibition 1 on 26th February and will do on 12th April and at exhibition 2 on 30th March. In both locations informal explanation and discussion about the project, the issues and the images also took place. This was particularly the case with The Clay Factory where I was present all the hours the exhibition was open to host the exhibition. I was able to meet and greet and talk with all the visitors as much or as little as they wished. With visits from local schools and City College I also gave brief unplanned talks about the issues and the work on display (to primary and secondary age children, young people and undergraduates).
Touch featured with the introduction of a small wooden case lined with shredded paper containing beach finds, some of which had been used to create images that were on display. This proved to be a positive move and relating the small items to the large poster images stimulated discussion about the deterioration of materials, particularly plastics into ever decreasing sizes until the objects they had been were not recognisable. It also enabled me to speak about the scanning equipment and methodology I used to create the images in more detail. First used at The Clay Factory this will now be introduced on 12th April at MVV Environment Devonport Ltd where I will be talking to visitors (volunteers taking part in The Great British Spring Clean) about my project and the exhibition.
GALLO, Carmine. 18 April 2018. 5 science-Based Presentation Hacks to Captivate Any Audience. Your audience gets bored easily. Create multisensory experiences to keep their attention.
FRITH, Katherine, T. 1997. Undressing the Ad: Reading Culture in Advertising. In Katherine T Frith (Ed.), Undressing the Ad: Reading Culture in Advertising. New York: Peter Lang.