Over the last few months Sensory Objects and their co-researchers, students from Reading College LLD/D dept developed an Interactive Sensory Cow for The Museum of English Rural Life MERL. The idea of the cow is to be used during workshops to explore cows in alternative ways. The cow was commissioned by the Reading Arts Committee and the CLA Charitable Trust .
Last night our Reading College LLD/D group did a fantastic job showcasing the cow at MERL’s Grand Opening Night. They have been practising over the last few weeks showing visitors how to record their own “MOO”.
It was a very busy night opening night, the cow was in the MERL studio and we showcased the cow to many people. The Director of MERL Kate Arnold Forster mentioned our cow in her speech and it soon the cow recorded some excellent moo’s from the guests. There were so many people it was hard to hear after people had recorded it. Here is a clip from an earlier vist with guest leaving their moo.
Below are images from the opening night demoing the cow.
ALL ABOUT MAKING THE COW
Below are images of our Reading College co-researchers and the cow.
In response to the sensory objects developed during the AHRC Sensory Objects project, working with Reading College LLD/D students at MERL during 2013-14, the need for interactive exhibits and farm animals was highlighted. Earlier prototypes developed resulted in the idea of creating an Interactive Sensory Cow for MERL as part of the major re-hang of the collection. Below is Rumena’s interactive chicken 2014.
Our group’s engagement was heightened when creating animal noises during their visit to MERL. The engagement made the collection more accessible and brought to life farms and that farm animals were central to a museum about farming.
The Sensory Cow has been developed as a workshop tool, it allows people to leave their own cow sounds, or any sound they wish, the sounds are recorded by continually pressing a button under the cows chin. Below is a picture of the record button under the cows chin.
Our co-researchers practiced inviting the public to record their own sounds and how to stop and start the sounds.
The pictures below shows Steven and Charlotte recording sounds.
The recorded sounds are played back immediately after recording and can be stopped and started by pressing the milk bottle top switch on the cow’s rump.
The sounds collected can be added and removed via the cow’s own Raspberry Pi mini computer network which can be accessed by any computer or iPad joining the cow’s own network and easy to use interface the Moo Manager. The Moo Manger allows workshop facilitators to add their own sounds depending on their workshop subject and easy to delete unwanted sounds.
The cow stands on a grass wheeled base, this houses the Raspberry Pi and speakers and a smell machine with a fan that blows out smells. Working with our group we decided to use a pleasant smell that relates to produce of a cow, milk chocolate.
We had a talk from Adam an MA student who lives on a farm, he told us some facts about living on a farm with cows. He also mentioned that we needed to add thick eye lashes to the cow.
With our co-researchers we developed workshop materials to be used with the cow. The cow has magnets placed inside it so that various items could be attached to it. We explored items that are produced by the cow, leather and suede patches, milk cartons, milk drinks, beefburgers suggested by the group. The cow has items that attach to it like a type of fridge magnet. We think the cow could be used to facilitate workshops with people of all ages and abilities.
We explored creating stories about fantasy cows or cows based on Greek mythology, as this was part of Reading College LLD/D Dept set studies this term. The group are studying the myth of the Minotaur towards a performance at the end of term. We explored role playing the Minotaur stories and presenting the cow to the public. Below are some of the imaginative ideas of storytelling based on the cow fantasies, inventions and the myth of the Minotaur.