Unbox is a four day design and arts festival in Delhi. Creative practitioners from design, music, food, writing and more come from across India and Europe to talk, develop and share. This year it was hosted at Zorba, an outdoor complex south of the city, in the warmth of the early February sun.
At PAN the driving questions behind everything we do is 'how do we have better experiences?' We reason that you do it either by improving an event, or by augmenting peoples capacity for experiencing it. At Unbox, our project New Perceptions focused on the later, exploring ways of improving peoples perception at the festival. We began by researching techniques, tools and methods for enhancing sensation, increasing memory and tweaking attitudes.
We identified some skill sets that we found particularly interesting, specifically people able to observe, describe and remain calm under stress. We were also interested in the impact of all these traits on memory. So we interviewed a detective, two wine tasters, an RAF pilot and an author. This formed part of our initial presentation at the festival and informed the tools we developed.
We distilled these learnings and others into a document that we called the Experience Companion. A document/poster giving people specific activities and ideas to help them get more value out of the festival. Whether that be tips on greater appreciation of the senses, ideas for better memory encoding or tools for examination. As our author Travis put it regarding writing, 'when you try and write certain things, you often realise that you don't know enough. So that forces you to look a bit deeper.'
One tool was a siren diary, a random alarm set to go off through out the festival that reminds people to reflect on what they are doing. This was influenced by Peter Fletchers wonderful sneeze diary, a journal of life dictated by the intervention of a sneeze. There was also a drawing exercise encouraging rigorous observation and one on lucid drinking of alcohol. These were all to run throughout our the festival and we collected both the filled out documents and anecdotal evidence on the impact they had through out the four days.
We ran a Proustian Scent workshop on day three. This followed on from our thinking on the Anti-Camera. We asked people to develop their own fragrances from our collection of aroma chemicals, then use it during an episode either throughout the festival or after, to help increase their recollection of it. We look forward to hearing from people as they use these scents over the coming months and years.
We concluded the festival with a talk summarising our conversations and what the next steps for the project were. The ideas had varrying degrees of impact and we'll soon have a film documenting in more detail what we learned and our process.
Until then, it's just to say that we had the most wonderful time and a massive thanks to everyone we met, everyone who helped deliver the project and specifically everyone at Unbox and the British Council.