As I did not visit the RVC museum due to illness, I looked at online resources and went to the Wellcome Collection exhibition for my research. The Wellcome Collection's 'Making Nature' exhibition was about how we see animals, and the exhibition displayed an array of objects which can help us understand the context better. There were framed prints of earth rubbings, which looked really aesthetically pleasing and showed how art can be made using nature. The taxidermy foxes that hid in the corners of the room took me by surprise, as I didn't expect them to be laid out without having any kind of 'protection'. There was a film where a tiger was confined in a human habitat, which was unusual but memorable. Perhaps I will include some moving image in my exhibition so it's not just full of static objects.
As the visual inspiration, I looked at the owls' birth process and thought I should transform the first exhibition room into an 'egg' hub so that visitors can immerse themselves into the world of a baby owlet when they first enter the exhibition. The exterior of the egg hub is also inspired by Beijing's National Stadium, which is a bird's nest.
Playing with lights can also make the exhibition more atmospheric and memorable. Nowadays, visitors expect exhibitions to look 'nice' so that they can take photographs and upload on social media. That's why I have thought about putting the visitors in a dark room with glow in the dark lights to create a mysterious atmosphere, to make it more memorable and stimulating to senses.
BBC Documentary on owls' abilities
As I would like to have families as part of my audience, I thought about the need for mothers/fathers to rest after the exhibition. Most museums have a cafe which allows the parents to take a break from taking care of their children and to relax with tea and some light bites. This is where the idea of having an Owl themed cafe comes in.
In Japan, there are many unusual cafes such as cat cafes, dog cafes and rabbit cafes. There is also an owl cafe where customers are invited to dine with the presence of owls around them. After googling, I found that London actually held a pop-up owl cafe (Annie the Owl cafe) once in a secret location and the people found it an interesting experience.
The cafe might bring up issues such as confining animals in a closed space, which may be considered unethical. However, it might inform the public that owls should not be one of their choices of 'pets', after their experience at the owl cafe.
Perception can be studied using the different sensory inputs - Hearing, Tasting, Touching, Seeing and Smelling. I wanted to focus on the aspect of seeing, so my starting point of looking at Nocturnal animals is through looking at their ability to see in the dark.
I wanted to turn it into a VR experience using goggles so that the viewers can see what the animals see at night. Humans do not have the same number of rods and a reflector system called Tapetum lucidum as nocturnal animals do, so it would be interesting to be able to see in the dark with the help of built-in lighting in the goggles.
Another aspect of animals' vision which I found intriguing was the fact that some of them (eg. snakes) see using heat. Perhaps the room could be lit using various projections of the colours that form the heat map, so we can see the world from the eyes' of snakes.
But these are just some ideas that I could potentially include in my exhibition.
Owl with its prey
Eagle Owl - The Lord of the Night
At my final crit, I didn't realise how small my research and diagrams were on the A3 sheet, so in terms of presentation, I need to blow up my images and text so that it creates a better reading experience to the viewer. I think I tend to fill up my sketchbook pages with lots of images and sketches so that they look 'full', but sometimes having white space can make the page less overwhelming.
After the final crit, I thought about changing the place of the exhibition as my peers suggested that it might be better to organise it at night. My instinct was to put the exhibition in an outdoor setting, probably in a forest or a park so that it matches the theme 'Nocturnal'.
As research, I looked into music festivals that are located in forests/outdoor settings, and think it is feasible as long as the location is safe and accessible. Also, the exhibition does not have to run for a long period of time - it can be a pop-up exhibition which lasts for 3-5 days.