THURSDAY November 8th, 9:30am -10:00am
SESSION WITH THE GUARDS
We did a 30-minute session with the guards with Pía, after the session that introduced them to the works of Nancy Spero. There were 9 guards present and we had donuts and coffee. Some of the newest guards participated as well and I barely learned their names that day.
We talked about “the most important works in the museum” using some question guides printed on paper, because I wanted to create some maps towards the series of experiments I was planning on this weekend. We ran out of time per usual and I think this method of collecting written responses in the morning needs to be revised because it usually does not achieve what it wanted to.
FRIDAY November 9th, 9:00am - 6:00pm
SESSION WITH THE GUARDS (9a-10a)
No one showed up to the session because apparently there was miscommunication, and on top of that, there were many events in the museum this week and the guards were just overall very exhausted.
One of the guards told me (which reflects some of my sentiments from yesterday), it’s easier if they could participate via voice recordings done outside of the working hours of the museum, and it’s been a good learning experience to understand the particular rhythms of the museum and how to work with/around it.
MEETING WITH TAMAYO (3p)
With Andrea Paasch, Catalina, Señor Alfonso, Pía, and Brenda present, I was finally able to get permission to run the activities for the weekend. I learned how it is difficult for design to enter the space of the museum on the timeline of graduate research, because it seems very abrupt and unfamiliar for the people in the museum, even with a month notice.
The goal was to clarify with Señor Alfonso, the immediate supervisor of the guards, that the activities were not trying to disrupt the guard’s normal working conditions but rather work around it. It is crucial to obtain clear permission from the museum and be transparent with them to what extent the research will be intruding in the space of the museum. (In retrospect, I think it is less about getting permission to intrude but how to create a conversation that can foreground the conditions for negotiating opportunities for the guards to gain greater spatial agency)
Andrea was interested in the project overall and expressed the possibility of advancing these things at a larger scale, and opening the discussion towards other museums and museum guards in Mexico. (I know there are some people here who are doing things with the guards and I want to connect with them more.)
Anyway for the weekend, we decided with Brenda that there could be another session later today after working hours (after 6:00pm) to ask consent from the guards in regards to recording and documentation.
SESSION WITH THE GUARDS (6p)
At 6:00pm Brenda and I went downstairs to the entrance to talk to the guards. I think frankly they got intimidated by the way the project was presented to them, especially in regards to which how the project will be shared and shown to the public as well as the museum people. Also the two guards I was counting on to participate in activities were not keen, because the activity was on a Sunday. For me when I was designing it, it seemed like a low-risk burden, but their perception of it was otherwise. I wish I had more time in advance to run it through them, but communicating to them via Whatsapp even sometimes proves to be a challenge, as participation is voluntary and based on interest.
Also, none of the guards wanted to give consent and were not keen to be filmed, so I couldn’t get consent from anyone. It was hard to get individual or personal feedback because the setting was very public and there were people such as Brenda and Señor Alfonso present there, who are usually not present in the activities we have previously done together over the summer.
It was a learning experience that like in most situations, design has to often take the time to be one-on-one with each of the people involved as potential participants to listen to their individual needs but more importantly to take the time to create that kind of space. This time, I just didn’t have time, so I had to go forward with what I had, which was the interventions that did not require the direct participation of the guards but rather were manifestations of their ideas and perspectives.
SATURDAY, November 10th, 10:00am-4:00pm
“Some People Are Seen Sitting on the Floor, In Groups”
The elevated area of the central patio, 1p-4p
This activity invited the public to sit on the elevated area of the central patio, inspired by a quote that one of the guards mentioned when we made speculative narratives about the museum in 100 years (and the things they would see in such a museum). There were cushions laid out and the public were keen to occupy and enjoy the open space.
Reloj de Sol
Patio central, en el piso cerca de la rampa
Los guardias pueden saber la hora al ver la posición del sol en las paredes y en el piso del Museo. Hay una cámara en el patio central que graba el trayectoria del sol; les invita para ver el movimiento de la luz y sienten el paso del tiempo.
Yo estaba esperando que no tenía mucho tiempo para explicar las actividades a los guardias, entonces los intervenciones han sido diseñados para que no solicitar mucha participación de ellos. Funcionó bien.
Todavia habia mucha curiosidad de los guardias sobre lo que estaba haciendo.
Karen me dice que aunque no deseen ser filmados, ella quiere a ayudarme a explicar la actividad con caminas (planeado para mañana/11 Nov)
Señor Alfonso parece menos preocupado con los intervenciones comparado a ayer.
Estaba en la recepción 10:00-16:00 h.
Uno de los chicos de servicio social estaba ayudándome con la actividad con las cojines, pero yo no lo necesito en el final porque mucha gente estaban sentando sin explication
El jefe a la recepción parece molestado pero a mediodía estaba ayudándome a pasar los flyers sobre la actividad a los visitantes
Being involved in the reception was a good experience over all because you get to spread the project at the hotspot of the museum
New connections with practitioners
Visibility of the project is HIGH in the reception but it can’t just be the media (e.g., flyers and posters) it is more effective with an actual person involved to explain and communicate the intentions of the projects
Visitors were for the most part impressed (“felicidades”) and/or interested
There seemed to be a disconnect between the guards and I this time around because we never got to get them on board fully
Time was an issue this time and we did not have enough prep sessions
But also, I think the larger issue was that this time the interventions were NOT necessitating the involvement of the guards - really wanted to involve them through their daily presence (e.g., documenting their presence in the museo) but that obviously failed because they were intimidated to be documented.
So then it became this lukewarm thing where I’m running around doing things based on their ideas over the summer, and most of them not having a clue how they are supposed to be involved. I did make it clear at the end of the Friday night session that I’ll just be conducting these experiments without needing participation from their part, but I didn’t quite understand what exactly it is they wanted to do. Some of them asked what is going on and I wanted to explain but I was too busy running around. Karen was the only one who actively reached out and seemed to understand the root of the miscommunication
Later on when I talked about this to Manuel, he mentioned that it IS a real thing that they are not designers, so it IS up to me as a designer to have to make some of these ideas/perspectives of the guards a more designed thing. I agreed. But I also do think that if it IS a collaborative project (which, it is for me) then I gotta amp up strategizing working/documentation methods… to understand what the heck is going on, and how we can move forward. Right now it feels very messy.