Workshop 11: Prototype Presentation

 Christian Boltanski, Shadows from the Lesson of Darkness, 1987 Installation, Sculpture, 12 oxidized copper figures, candles

Christian Boltanski, Shadows from the Lesson of Darkness, 1987 | Installation, Sculpture, 12 oxidized copper figures, candles

This week is devoted to your prototype presentation. Set up and present your prototype in the gallery space and black boxes as directed by your tutor. During the presentations, be generous to your peers by participating in the critique session. Your questions, thoughts and honest feedback can help each other build better works.

A second component of Assessment 2 is a critical reflection report which will be due on the Friday of week 11. You may also want to spend time to review artworks and theories that contextualise and inform your project to develop your artist statements.


  1. Go through your prototype presentation (including processes you have taken to arrive at the prototype state). Incorporate relevant feedbacks and comments from your tutor and peers into a critical reflection report.
  2. Respond to questions on audience motivation, narratives and contexts, aesthetics, and installation (below) in the continual development of your work.
  3. Plan how you will complete the project and complete the information on space and equipment need.
  4. Use the time to do some work!

Here’s a documentation of Rain Room by Random International. What were their intentions or ideas when they began the project? What were the processes or steps involved in creating the work? What are the audience experience of this work?

Prototype presentation

Your prototype will demonstrate the following:

  • How the work functions
  • How the work engages the audience
  • What kind of experiences will the object/ work engender?

Take the opportunity to:

  • observe how the audience interact and respond to your prototype
  • ask your audience useful questions (e.g. What is your first impression of the object? Do you feel you need encouragement/ permission to interact with the object? How would you describe your experience? etc.)
  • document (photograph) your prototype in-situ

Your prototype presentation should:

  • give your feedback on the relevance of the ideas explored (e.g. does your idea need to be further explored in terms of wonderment? or is more research appropriate?)
  • give your feedback on execution (e.g. are the chosen materials suitable? are there better ways to achieve the outcomes?)
  • test whether the delivery of your concept through your chosen form is achievable (e.g. is more testing needed?)
  • help you identify problem areas (both technical and conceptual)
  • help you plan how to execute the final work (i.e. a production schedule)

Most of all, be generous to your peers by participating in the critique session: help test their prototypes, offer constructive and honest feedback, ask questions!

Below are some questions that respond to the prototype presentation which require more thoughts. You may want to incorporate these in your critical reflection:

Jeffrey Shaw, The Legible City, 1988 - 91

Jeffrey Shaw, The Legible City, 1988 – 91

Audience motivation:

  • What attracts the audience attention?
  • Is it appealing to look at?
  • Does its mechanism or texture compels the audience to operate or touch it?
  • Is it puzzling that entice the audience to work out something?
  • What motivates the audience to view/ interact/ participate/ engage with your work?
  • Is it a game with a goal or task?
  • Is it fun to play with (and what does this mean)?
  • Is it a pleasurable, rewarding, exciting experience?
  • If your work presents a one-to-one (only one player can engage with it), consider the experience of the on-lookers—are they involved or engaged in watching another audience member interact with their work?
Susan Hiller, From the Freud Museum, 1991-6

Susan Hiller, From the Freud Museum, 1991-6

Narratives and contexts:

  • Does your work have a ‘back story’?
  • Does it refer to a period in time like the 1950s or the 19th Century?
  • Does it refer to an experience like going to a fair, or to the cricket?
  • Will your work benefit from setting of a narrative or context rather than an abstract ‘blackbox’ or ‘whitebox’ (gallery) setting?
  • Consider how you can deliver the narratives and context in the installation and presentation of the work. Would a wall paper, posters, furnishing  help give your work a context?
  • Would spot lighting the work help create the appropriate atmosphere for the work?
  • Would situating your object within a set help audience create meanings?
Tacita Dean, A Bag of Air, 1995

Tacita Dean, A Bag of Air, 1995


  • How will your final work look: appealing, disturbing, frightening?
  • How would it feel?
  • How big is it in relation to the audience: life-size, miniaturised, out-of-proportionally large?
  • What is it made out of?
  • Does the materials have connotations to a place or a time?
  • Are you referring to the 18th century Enlightenment period or perhaps your own childhood?
  • Are you conjuring up a specific space like the 16th century table setting or a House of Horror at the fairground?
  • Are you using cotton to make your work to suggest a ‘naturalness’?
  • Are you using velvet to suggest riches and wealth?

Installation and final presentation:

  • Would a bright white space work best for your project?
  • Does your work need a darkened space for the work to operate?
  • How will it sit in space: suspended in the middle of the room or on a plinth against the wall?
  • How will it be lit?
  • Can you use lighting to draw the audience attention to an aspect of the work?

Download the Project Planning Pro forma to complete and return to your tutor.

Download Plans of available spaces (Gallery space is G18. Blackboxes are G14 and G15, Foyer space is G99) for reference.

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