Unmute Art

As members of the MuseWeb GLAMi team since 2007 (formerly MW’s BoW), we have been intimately aware of the vast number of international projects submitted, reviewed, and awarded for innovation within the sector. Over this time we have encouraged change towards increasing the importance of inclusive design within the criteria for submissions and in judging formulas. This year it was incredibly refreshing and inspiring to see a project win Best of the GLAMi Awards that was uniquely focused on both inclusion and accessibility.

Unmute Art is a project created by Orpheo for the Andy Warhol Exhibition at the Pietrasanta Basilica in Napoli. This video-guide facilitates the delivery of interpretation through Italian Sign Language (ISL). Using Augmented Reality (AR), the user recognizes the relevant Andy Warhol piece, which provokes the video overlay. Actors were filmed in character matching the subject of the work, and the prompted video delivers the work’s interpretation through ISL.

Not only is the interpretive content made accessible to a historically marginalized community, but the experience is made rich and meaningful, facilitating the enjoyment and education of Warhol’s work by ISL signers, in their first language, without (critically) requiring they look away from the work as they receive the interpretation. This can be done at the same time as those receiving the interpretation in Italian via audio-guide interpretation. A meaningful project that was no doubt fun to produce and can be a great model for other GLAMs (galleries, libraries, archives, museums) to further iterate and build upon.

ISL signing actor made-up to look like the subject of an Andy Warhol art work. The work is highly stylized with boosted brightness and contrast reducing visual detail, and the actor is wearing a yellow sweater with black polkadots, green eye shadow, and set against a solid red background.
Italian Sign Language (ISL) fluent actors were made to resemble the subjects of Andy Warhol’s work so they could deliver seamless interpretation of his works via ISL without necessitating patrons look away from the art in order to view the interpretation.

Hanguel: Alphabet by Design

Literally sitting in the shadow of the National Museum of Korea is the National Hanguel Museum. Hanguel or Hangul is the Korean alphabet. The design story that is Hanguel should be a case study taught across all design disciplines.

The Hanja (Chinese) alphabet, or character set, numbers over 50,000 with each user knowing, on average, 8000 characters. This character set was in use by Koreans until the 15th Century when King Sejong designed Hanguel in an attempt to raise the very low literacy rates amongst the Korean population. Hanguel is the written Korean alphabet and was fully adopted as the national alphabet in 1894. It consists of 24 characters, based on 8 letter shapes mapped to the 5 basic mouth and tongue positions used by the vocal system for consonants, and 3 vowels representing the sky, the earth, and the human.

Translated into glyphs this alphabet is extremely easy to learn and use. The design and introduction of Hanguel has drastically increased literacy rates in Korea. Both South and North Korea now have literacy rates above 98%. This has no doubt played a key role in the unparalleled economic success, social development, and overall inclusive positioning of South Korea in such a short period (since the 1960s).

Hanguel: A written language that is easy to learn and use. (Illustrations taken from National Hanguel Museum Guide: The Journey that Hanguel Went Through, English version)