Cultural probe for fashion, media and museum-mediation

Complete probe package

For the sake of knowledge sharing (e.g. on Flickr) , and for my own future reference, this post presents the individual acitivities in my cultural probe package, and how they aim to elicit thoughts on and understandings of fashion, media, the city etc. which will inform my design of concepts for mobile mediations of fashion.

The probes are given and explained to the participants during a one hour informal interview. The participants are asked to complete the activities over the summer, i.e. over a period of six weeks. The presentation stresses that the activities are meant to be fun, and encourages the participants to make the activities together with likeminded friends if they fancy.

Fashion is…
The front of the postcard shows diverse statements about fashion from the likes of Chanel, Lady Gaga and Oscar Wilde, whilst the back asks the informant to voice their own understanding by finishing the opening line Fashion is…

Postcard asking for a statement on fashion

This activity asks participants to user their mobile camera to capture images related to the following topics, and send them as MMS:

  • Inspiration
  • My media
  • Copenhagen style
  • Fashionista
  • Non-fashion
  • Today I’m wearing
  • Everyday life
  • Wish it was mine
  • A favourite thing
  • Bad purchase

Mobile photography

Show me your city
Participants are given a city map of Copenhagen (all live locally) as well as stickers, post it notes, glue and pen, and are asked to indicate their favourite spots with a heart and other noticable spots with a dot, and to use the ‘speech bubble’ notes to describe or explain the significance of these places.

Furthermore, the participants are encouraged to customize the maps at will – cut away or cross out the sections of the city that they dislike or never use; suggest changes or additions in the form of a collage, e.g. by placing the out of town art museum Louisiana in the city center, ‘building’ a cultural center or ‘planting’ a forrest or moving their favourite parts of Kreuzberg or Shoreditch to Copenhagen.

Mapping Copenhagen

Participants are asked to ‘curate’ an exhibition on a theme or aspect of fashion of their choice, in the form of a board on Pinterest. The participants decide the title, the number of images, and the content – whether the exhibition will show only clothes, or also include other items or images related to (their take on) fashion.

Fashion exhibition as a Pinterest board

This activity asks participants to visit the current exhibition entitled ‘Rokoko-mania’ at Designmuseum Denmark. The exhibition shows costumes and artifacts from the museum collection as well as recent or commisioned works by Yinka Shonibare MBE, Nikoline Liv Andersern, Anne Damgaard and Laura Baruël.

At the exhibition, participants are asked to take and send photos of three things they like, three things they don’t like, and to record and send a short voice memo on their experience.

Invitation + tickets for the exhibition ‘Rokoko-mania’

Nailing it
Participants are asked to imagine the colour-samples as nailvarnish, and to name the colours accordingly. The activity aims to elicit some of the vocabulary associated with fashion and the related cultural references and connotations.

Naming nailvarnish

Participants are asked to create a set on Polyvore based on a photograph of Dior’s 1947 ‘New Look’. The activity aims to engage participants in spotting fashion-historical references in current fashions, and experiment with potentially new social media tools.

A Polyvore-set inspired by New Look

This activity asks participants to collate a mixtape for fashion – what is the sound of fashion, what tracks, artists, lyrics, sounds or moods do the participants associate with fashion.


Finally, the probe contains a selection of samples and treats. They are just meant to be enjoyed.

The goodies

  1. Toni Spencer said:

    I’ve been searching for good shots to illustrate the ‘Cultural Probe’ approach for a community research project guide. I came across one of yours that we’d like to use of flikr. We would of course credit the photo. It’s the one ‘Mapping Copenhagen’.
    I’m working on a tight deadline so would appreciate a swift response if you are able!
    Many thanks,

  2. rikkebaggesen said:

    Sure, Toni, go ahead! Glad you can use it. Anywhere I can read more about your project, it might be useful for me?

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