A temporary re-interpretation of the primates display in the Hall of Mammals at the Museum of Manchester, England, as part of Explore Expand Exchange, a project conceived & curated by Artefact Projects.
A classic example of the Victorian natural history museum exhibition style, the hall and its contents have remained largely untouched for over 100 years. Thanks to the affordability of foreign travel and the popularity of TV wildlife documentaries, the public is now used to seeing these kinds of animal alive and in their own habitat. As a consequence, the collection of stuffed specimens can now be re-deployed to raise different issues...
The intervention consisted of an audio installation, designed to allow visitors to 'eavesdrop' on the different conversations unfolding between various occupants of the Primates case.
More commonly used to allow hearing aid wearers to pick up amplified signals in public spaces such as cinemas, post offices etc, 6 audio induction loops were attached to the inside of the case. Each loop was concealed within a coloured vinyl graphic motif, affixed to the inside of the glass. By incorporating the induction loops physically into the graphic emblems, the vinyl loops act as audio-visual 'frames' for the particular animals we chose to animate.
Wearing a specially designed headset pack, the visitor approaches the case and starts to hear the audio tracks. Each loop contains only one conversation, looped permanently, each about 10 minutes long. Whilst standing between 2 loops the visitor can hear both conversations and, just as in 'real life', navigates to the source of that which sounds most interesting. The action of peering through each coloured portal reveals more clearly the appropriate soundtrack: the closer you get, the louder the signal - each visitor is his own volume control.