Form and Function: Playfulness in Survey Data Collection

This autumn Arnolfini welcomes ‘The Most Popular Art Exhibition Ever!’ by Grayson Perry (https://www.arnolfini.org.uk/whatson/the-most-popular-art-exhibition-ever-grayson-perry). Alongside the exhibition we are working with artist/researcher Dane Watkins to develop a playful, animated, illustrated survey to replace Arnolfini’s regular data collection methods. The animations are part of Dane’s AHRC funded PhD at Falmouth University, investigating the value of playfulness within information design (http://www.eatmydata.co.uk/). Our aim is to explore the utility of non-traditional, image-focused surveys in data collection via digital innovation to enhance the visitor experience.
 
We live in an age of accountability; in the public sector academic services have to justify their worth through student surveys, local authorities request feedback on their services and Arts Council funded organisations have to demonstrate they are providing great art experiences to everyone through audience and participant questionnaires.
 
We are considering the medium of the survey itself as an integral part of the visitor experience rather than an isolated, utilitarian construct stripped of style. Will a visually engaging interface marrying form and function be more congruent with a contemporary arts gallery showing experimental works? Would a change from the more traditional, simplistic and text-based survey methods result in a rise in feedback and overall engagement levels?
 
The survey will be delivered in an animated, visually dynamic format, based on Culture Counts’ Quality Metrics. It will be available for visitors to access freely on tablets positioned in the gallery spaces and the data will be compared with previous surveys’ response rates and behavioural studies around feedback giving to indicate any changes in engagement levels.
 
Curating the show to consider a space specifically dedicated to the survey, we hope will encourage visitors to engage and will highlight the importance and value of their participation. As part of this feedback space, we will also be displaying real-time audience rating feeds in response to the question ‘How popular is this exhibition?’ which will be derived directly from previous visitors’ responses to the survey, in line Grayson Perry’s thematic exploration of the idea of art, popularity, and how the value of cultural experiences may manifest or be quantified.

Why the contribution is important

What value would playfulness add to surveys? How will the surveys be perceived? Will audiences see a children’s activity due to animation and the exaggerated imagery, or will adult visitors respond to the opportunity to be more creative? We are looking to develop a conversation about the nature of surveys and use of creativity in data collection with peers and stakeholders, staff members, artists and visitors.
Augmenting visitor experience through play and surprise in the visually interesting surveys could increase both the response rates to the survey, as well as the depth of engagement that reflective processes such as feedback-giving facilitate.
 
Data collection and audience feedback is a crucial part of the structure of a cultural space, and cultural organisations present such a great range of beautifully made cultural artefacts yet the dialogue with the audience, the feedback and registration forms are often so visually uninteresting and flat.
 
By presenting the audience with an enjoyable and engaging survey we hope that audiences will feel that they are getting something in return for sharing their opinions, which is often lost with traditional methods of data collection. Furthermore the real-time response screen will allow for reflection and will encourage discussion between one another.

by Arnolfini on August 04, 2017 at 10:25AM

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