In late 2018 the State Library of NSW opened new gallery spaces, effectively doubling up the amount of galleries the Library has to offer. As part of that historic gallery transformation program the DX Lab designed and built a community generated self portrait exhibition called #NewSelfWales. This took the form of a digital live data feed of images, to allow a broader audience base to become involved in the Library but also to determine what the face of NSW looked like in 2018. The portraits were mixed in with the Library’s existing collection items and these new portraits, submitted by the public, were then collected by the institution.
The idea for this participatory digital experience was developed with a number of staff across the organisation through a lengthy user experience and analytics research workshop. Once the data was analysed and discussions with readers on potential concepts were complete, the design phase began. Our aim was to attract a diverse audience to the Library through the process of taking a selfie and to be as welcoming to everyone in the process.
This live data feed, developed for both onsite and online, was the first time something of this scale had been developed at the Library. The DX Lab used web technologies in the gallery to produce the live feed that consisted of over 12,000 portraits. Over 7,000 were uploaded via an onsite photo booth, 1000 were from Instagram and 5000 were from the Library’s digitised collection. There were risks involved in doing something so new, especially with web technologies, and not knowing if the audience would resonate with the idea and add their portraits. The project relied on the engagement from our audience and without that, it would not have been a success
The judges for the MAPDA multimedia and Best in Show award that #NewSelfWales received impressed the judges who commented:
This was a beautiful display, bringing collection and visitor together in an excellent example of co-curation.
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