Every time I’m involved in producing a public event or exhibition, I end up learning an immense amount. Sometimes I learn seemingly small things from the people who attend – details about their lives and experiences that build upon and refocus my research interests. Sometimes I learn important things during the process – for instance how translating between academic writing, press releases, news articles, and posters aimed at a public audience can be immensely challenging and immensely rewarding due to their distinct communities, positioning, and perspectives. Sometimes I come to reflect upon the idea of ‘impact’ and ‘engagement’ more generally, and how this rhetoric can both distract from and support the fragments of conversation and new thoughts that might somewhere, someday, contribute to transformations in society.
The interactive public exhibition I produced last week, alongside Elizabeth Shove and the DEMAND Centre, was no exception. It was entitled ‘Heating, cooling, lighting: what is energy for?’ and was presented as part of Lancaster University’s ‘Campus in the City’ in St. Nicholas’ Arcades, Lancaster. While it is always hard to capture traces of these kinds of events, I have collated some of the digital ones on the DEMAND website and on Storify. If you’d like to know more, feel free to get in touch.