School for the Creative and Cultural Industries


New perspectives on objects and power: An audio tour through the Power! exhibition

4 July 2024

Explore the unique perspectives, experiences and approaches of our UCL student curators, who have each developed an audio guide to offer an alternative journey through the Power! exhibition at the UCL Culture Lab.

The back of a person's head with headphones on looking at a sculpture on the wall

Earlier this year, we invited students to curate an audio guide for the Power! exhibition at the UCL Culture Lab, with the aim of sharing new voices, developing audio production skills and helping to improve accessibility and representation across the collections. 

The result was three audio guides, exploring personal perspectives on power through three distinctive themes: queerness, materials, and technology.

These were curated and developed by UCL students Aaditya Khurana (BA German and History of Art, UCL Department of History of Art), Charo Havermans (SCCI MA Public History, UCL Department of History) and Han Sun (BA Comparative Literature, School of European Languages, Culture and Society.)

We spoke with two of the curators, Aaditya and Charo, about their experiences of creating their unique guides and the reasons behind their chosen theme.

A collage of images showing a 'Gay Left' pamplet, megaphone icon, typewriter and people waving LGBTQ+ flags with a QR code and words in the middle saying 'Queering Power: the audio guide'
Queering Power!

By Charo Havermans

Beyond referring to queerness and the queer (LGBTQIA+) community, queering also means to question, to problematise, and to embrace a multitude of perspectives. 

Queerness and power are of course closely related. Fostering community and harnessing queer power is essential in a world in which queerness remains largely marginalised and oppressed. With this audioguide, Charo takes us on a journey through queer elements of the Culture Lab ‘Power!’ exhibition and prompts us to call accepted notions of power and queerness into question.

 This audioguide features the following objects:

  • How to Publish Your Very Own Underground Newspaper 
  • Gay Left Journal 
  • Lancaster Harding Photo Album
  • Gay Rights Pamphlet

Charo says: “Audio enables us to tell stories that silent objects simply can’t, and to make new connections within a space that feel more tangible and personal. You can hear the typewriter, chants of protest and the gentle sound of someone leafing through the pages of a newspaper.  

“As a queer person, it feels poignant to share the stories that connect to that experience, especially in a space focused on power. I hope this audio guide invites a more creative, queer, and comfortable approach to navigating the Culture Lab, and indeed any other exhibition space, and to exploring our personal relationships with queerness and queering".

She adds: “Spending some quality time with some of these objects and researching the context in which they were produced was incredibly enriching to me. It was fun to trace a queer path throughout the exhibition and highlight how both individual and collective queer voices come to the fore”. 

Explore the Queering Power! audio guide

rows of words saying 'the power of materials' in different colours with scientific icons related to materials
Power of Materials

By Aaditya Khurana

Aaditya’s audio guide delves into  a selection of materials from the UCL materials library, focusing on three intriguing objects within a single cabinet: a seashell, nitrous oxide balloons, and uranium ore. 

The guide takes listeners on a journey through the three chosen objects, examining their connections to the concept of power both generally and through Aaditya’s personal experiences. To enhance the narrative, he also crafted accompanying soundscapes, aiming to explore the power of sound alongside these materials.

Aaditya says: I chose this cabinet because it was distinct from the others in that it focused on the material qualities of the objects themselves. This allowed me to explore and combine the three selected objects in ways I wouldn't have otherwise considered. 

“Each object represented a different experience, memory, and sense of power, each uniquely affecting me. Through scripts and soundscapes, I aimed to imbue these objects with a distinct personality and create a narrative that brought out the unique qualities and interactions of these diverse materials, ultimately delivering a sonic experience”.

He adds: “Creating the audio guides was an incredibly enjoyable and thought-provoking experience, and I gained significant insights into the curatorial process and narrative creation. Recording the guides in a studio was a lot of fun! Crafting the soundscapes showed me how I could draw out my personal experiences through audio production and merge them with spoken narrative. 

“I hope the audio guide enables users to close their eyes and fully immerse themselves to truly feel the power of the objects and recognise their significance in the exhibition”.

Explore the Power of Materials audio guide

“I love how each audio guide not only gives visitors a deeper understanding of the objects in front of them, but also really draws out the individual voice and creativity of each of us. Now there’s a bit of Han, Aaditya and me in the exhibition too.” Charo Havermans

Accessibility matters

The Power! audio guides were produced by Camella Ramjet, Collections Care and Curatorial Assistant at the Culture Lab. As a neurodiverse museum professional, Camella saw the importance of producing an audio guide that could aid in creating an accessible experience. 

"While creating audio guides in the past and listening to them myself, I have experienced the impact they have on accessibility to exhibitions for disabled and neurodivergent visitors. Being able to produce these for the Power! exhibition has been an important part of the project for me and I’m so proud of the work these students have produced!” Camella Ramjet

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