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Lost Values

uRemark / Highland Exposure

an exhibition concept for encouraging interaction between makers and audience members

Joëlle Bitton, Matthew Karau, Andrea Taylor, Stefan Agamanolis (Distance Lab); Calum Davidson (Highlands and Islands Enterprise)

Traditional exhibitions often display images and artifacts in a one-way fashion, limiting contact with or feedback to the original artist or maker. uRemark (aka Highland Exposure) aims to reduce the distance between author and audience in the context of a photography display. A physical exhibition is combined with a novel digital interface that provides the ability to leave voice messages for the creator of a photograph and encourages dialogues to develop within the exhibition space.

Highland Exposure was conceived as a competition and exhibition for digital photography. Amateur photographers and ordinary people were invited to submit their most stunning and inventive expressions of "distance" in the contemporary Scottish Highlands and Islands. Submitters were asked to give information about their photos, such as place and date taken and a general description of content.

About 800 photos were submitted between February and May 2007. Taken together, this pool of submissions formed a high quality and comprehensive portrait of the modern Highlands and Islands. Winners were chosen, but a decision was made to include every submitted photo in the final exhibition, which took place in Inverness in June 2007.

The exhibition consisted of a large array of physical photographs arranged on two white walls. Each photograph had an identifying number and barcode printed at the bottom, but no other information to distract the viewer from browsing and enjoying the myriad of visual expressions.

If interested in a photo, a viewer could select it using a barcode reader available in the space. This caused the photo to be projected on a large screen, together with the textual information describing the photo that was included in its competition entry form.

The viewer could then pick up an old-style phone handset and record a voice message that would be digitally attached to the photo. If the photo was selected again at any time later in the exhibition, this audio message would be played back on speakers in the space. Further messages could be recorded, resulting in a dialogue about a photo between audience members who may be present on different days. These messages were also delivered to the original photographers via the Internet.

The use of voice for messaging was chosen in an aim to support a more personal and less anonymous dialogue than is possible in web-based photo sharing applications like Flickr. Just as the photos in the exhibition captured a portrait of the Highlands, these voice messages collectively formed a rich portrait of the audience flowing through the exhibition space.

Distance Lab is interested in building on the ideas in this project and applying them to other scenarios in which this kind of dialogue and involvement could enhance the impact of a theme or initiative. In particular, we are interested in exhibitions that may run over an extended period of time or that would involve multiple sites. Please contact us for more information.


  • High resolution project images

  • Highland Exposure competition web site

  • Innovation Exposure competition web site