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Visitors to COP26 can share experience with digital Gift

Thursday, 28 October 2021

Visitors to COP26 are being given the unique opportunity to create and share personalised digital content from the summit to engage others in the climate conversation.

Researchers from the University of Nottingham’s Mixed Reality Lab have teamed up with interactive artists at Blast Theory to create a ‘Gift’, using a digital platform that allows visitors to make and share personalised digital content.

The project is funded by UKRI and visitors will be able to scan a QR code in the UKRI exhibit hall which will open the platform and start the digital Gift giving experience.

Gift draws on the practice of gifting as a way to facilitate personalisation and social sharing in museums and exhibitions. It will allow visitors to define their own journey through COP26 by encouraging them to create a bespoke tour of the summit for a friend or loved one, focusing on the climate issues and themes they think they will be interested in.

Nick Tandavanitj from Blast Theory explains: “Gift takes the deeply personal process of choosing, making and giving a gift to someone you love and transposes this to the experience of exploring exhibitions, museums and galleries.

“COP26 is a context where the ideas that are shared will potentially have a global impact. So, for COP26, we’re rewriting Gift to invite delegates and the public to reflect on someone they love as they explore the exhibitions and displays of the conference. What are the things they find that will be important to someone they love? We hope this will be an opportunity for those attending to share the experience with those close to them and remain focused on what is crucial in the context of the climate emergency.”

Gift has been developed as part of a three-year research project funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme to explore the potential of virtual museums in establishing meaningful user experiences which allow for personal, complex and emotional encounters with art and cultural heritage.

It’s really exciting to have Gift at COP26. Making an exhibition a shared experience not only extends the reach of COP26 and its important topics and themes, but is also a way for visitors to look at it from a different perspective – through the eyes of someone they love. This may make them think more deeply or differently about a climate issue, or lead them to look at something entirely new.
Professor Steve Benford, Head of the Mixed Reality lab at the University of Nottingham

Gift has already been successfully deployed at a number of museums in the UK and Europe and is now a permanent feature at Brighton and Hove Museum where it has replaced their traditional audio guide.

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More information is available from Professor Steve Benford at the University of Nottingham on Steve.Benford@nottingham.ac.uk

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