The botanical gardens laboratory

Dick van Dijk

For the penultimate meeting of the first experimental series, the participants proceeded to the east of the country, to Hortus Arcadia in Nijmegen. This youngest member of the NVBT offers a botanical garden, furnished to the insights of Dutch botanist Jac. P. Thijsse. Below, two of the 18 participants, Joke 't Hart and Barbara Amelsfort, describe their experiences on this day:

"Today we would fully focus on the preparation of the final meeting with the public and colleagues from the other NVBT gardens. Next week the prototype is tested with a 'real' audience. Additionally, our other NVBT colleagues are invited to join.

It was a true test of cooperation in this laboratory: in four teams we worked hard on the content, test organization, communication and the final editing of this test day. What do we exactly want to get from the test next week? How do we organize it? What exactly is our message? Because we want to continue with this experiment.

We divided into different groups. At ambient pressure (and enthusiasm) chaos developed at first. But slowly, the red line became visible. After a number of meetings in this experimental series in which we could utilize the full width of the creative field, they converged today in this session. This meant making choices: what do we want and what not.

Our wishes to translate the technology means making choices and accepting the limitations, but we are also able to see new opportunities. A magnifying glass does not yet do everything that we would like, but even then, it gave an amazing performance for many of us.

At the end of the day, we had a selection of three plants. The stories to tell with the plants are now given a new dimension, literally a magnification by using the glass: what do I see in this plant, what has it to say? The visitor may examine examine the plant itself with it. When we tested it at the end of the day, we saw - proud - our end result. Let's hope that we can repeat this experience next week in our test with the audience.

In the short evaluation of this day, we discovered that we very easily, albeit unconsciously, strayed from the original target we had chosen while developing this prototype. In the previous trials, we agreed that our test target group would be grandparents with grandchildren, but during the development of the content we let go of this idea. Is combining content for adults and children maybe too complicated in one application or are we thinking too much from the content and not enough from the public?

Next week: the proof of the pudding is in the eating!"

Should you want to join us on the 26th at Hortus Arcadia in Nijmegen, then you are warmly welcome to evaluate our work-in-progress.

About the author

  • Dick van Dijk is creative director and head of programme at Waag.