This project goes into the detailed stories of five leopards in Mumbai. It was made in collaboration with Museum of Solutions, which is a children's museum. I wanted to get the leopard stories across so that children have a little context when they think about leopards, and also wanted to bring to light what these leopards are currently facing due to some of the infrastructure projects in Mumbai.
With this project, I intend to pass on some information about leopards in their own city to children. By adding the layers of magic ink, augmented reality, and the freedom to draw out their own stories, children understand that there really is more than one way to tell a story. Also the very fact that all this is visible to them only after really looking for it; otherwise it’s only an empty forrest, shows that there are things that we don’t always see. That is the point of the project, to acknowledge that things are not always the way they seem. Combining it to animal perspectives will help the children be more empathetic and learn how to put themselves in another’s shoes, truly realizing what it means to look at a single thing with multiple perspectives.
Museum of Solutions (MoSo) is a new, world-class children’s museum being developed by an Industrial Foundation in Mumbai, India. It will bethe first interactive and immersive learning environment of its kind for children in India. MuSo’s vision is to inspire, enable, and empower childrento make meaningful change in the world together, today. The museum would focus on developing programs and exhibits that are designed tocultivate the knowledge, skills, and actions for kids to understand and require them to think about solving the challenges as they see aroundthem and make progress on the UN Sustainable Development Goals. “The need for imagination, a sense of truth, and a feeling of responsibility—these three forces are the very nerve of education.” ~ Rudolf Steiner
As an informal space for learning, museums provide opportunities for children to develop their creative expression, innovative skills and criticalthinking. It is like going to school, in a museum, studying from artifacts, engage in project based and place based learning and design solutionsfor real problems of today and tomorrow. It becomes a space where children learn by playing, interacting with the artifacts/exhibits without thetension of outcomes. The project provides an opportunity to create immersive and interactive artifacts/exhibits that will encourage learning andengagement for the children visiting the museum, it has to be hands-on, fun, and playful — but also focused on the real world.
After creating a children’s panel of 5 children from Mumbai, I first spoke to them very casually just to learn a little more about them and try to make them comfortable with me. The next time I created three jigsaw puzzles by creating illustrations and plugging them into an online puzzle generator for each of the three animals as a research method. This was to observe which of them engaged the children more. It showed me that the children were most interested with the leopard, and knew more about vultures than I thought.
Threat to Leopards:
Human Leopard Conflict:
Aarey Milk colony:
How to avoid being attacked:
In a setting where cars are speeding on a road, when a leopard is crossing, and the drivers cannot see the leopard, how should the leopard get to the other side of the road without being hurt?
Three of the kids said that they would make a bridge so that the leopard could go over it, and one of them said that they would make the car stop somehow. On asking her how she would make it stop, she said that there could be barriers or traffic lights or speed bumps, or a person who makes the vehicles stop.
We then played a fact bingo game with the image below where each child selected 6 facts and we played bingo.
This way they remember more, and it teaches me more about what children are interested in. The children were excited to play this. First chose facts that were shorter than the others, second chose mainly characteristics, third chose the leopards abilities, and fourth picked rather randomly.
After the games, I asked the children to draw a story or a scene from the leopards point of view and send it to me whenever they get time. This was the result.
The way I have designed the project, it starts with wonder not the problem. The children first have to find the leopards before realising the problems they face. I have also kept it simple and given it layers so that it is more accessible. It requires you to move and climb around, making them ‘do’ so that they understand and has a positive takeaway. It also gives them complete control since not only can they find the leopards and their stories, they also have the option of learning more and in the end creating their own stories. It is an interactive exhibit for children and adults.
The painting is what I spent the most time on after the research phase. Although I had a slight idea of what I wanted it to look like, I still kept adding elements until the forrest looked full.
Once the light hits the mural, you will see hidden leopards in their natural habitats with their real stories, alternate ways for the leopard to cross the road, facts, some human and leopard interaction to teach children what to do when you spot one. Some images taken below are in the dark for a clear photograph, but you can see everything clearly in light too, which is shown in the video of the outcome.
Stories of three of the leopards are made into animations in Augmented Reality as a prototype to show what it could look like, using Adobe Aero. The animation has a narration, sound effects, leopards, birds, plants, vehicles and more visual aids to help tell a more detailed story than seen in the uv light. The animations start when you go close to a leopard seen on your screen and the plan is to have more interactive elements placed which you can play with before or after watching the set stories. Elements of these also come into your own space at some point, for example in this case, a leopard or butterfly.
The big torch is to be kept a few metres from the wall, always turned on. This is a 1:5 scale model of it, made out of pencil, reused cardboard and sunboard, and a uv light torch.
As a surprise element, at the bottom, the mural says that you can draw your own stories with the markers found below the big torch. So there is a small box below the torch filled with markers.
I made some torches in the form of light sabers and a movable ladder to add a fun element.
This is the first time I designed something for children, and absolutely loved the process. Not only did it give me another lens to look from, it also made me understand that we are not that different from children. They know a lot more than we give them credit for, and we enjoy many of the same things. One big example of this is, games and play. As adults, we too love adding the element of play to as many things as we can; whether it’s deciding where to eat, or planning a fun way to study/learn. This is why I added an element of play to my project. Not only did the children I spoke to find it more interesting, even my friends and family who are my age or older thought it would be something they would like. I think the point in the project where we had to decide the final outcome is where I struggled a little for the same reason. After all the primary and secondary research, I was sure I wanted to add an element of play, but was unsure about how to do it. Finally, after looking at many examples online, I found a poem online that was written with invisible ink in a gallery. This was for adults, but I knew that I could use it for children somehow.
I went where the process took me, and I am very glad about it. In the beginning of starting to paint my mural, I had no plans of adding a digital aspect to it. In fact at the time I did not even think that I was going to use real leopard stories. All this came along the way and I am very happy that it did.My timeline also worked well as I made sure to stick to my weekly plans.
The only thing that I think I could have worked on a little more is making the leopards in the augmented reality more interactive, and that is the next step. Until now, everything was planned to tell their story in a set manner, but I would like to deconstruct that and make the story a game as well, where the children are finding out more about the leopard after every step.
However, I am happy with this outcome as well and I am very excited to test it with children in real time. This was not possible until now due to the lockdown because of covid, but hopefully will be in the near future.