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Human Timekeeper

This group project was a  live brief set by Kin in collaboration with the National Maritime Museum. We were given 2 week to think of 3 concepts and then 3 week to finalise the chosen concept. The brief was to describe the longitude problem in an exhibition, at Greenwich Maritime Museum, for children aged 8-11. It was going to be a travelling exhibit so it must fit into a 1meter-cubed box.

After much brainstorming, model making, mind-mapping, drawing and posted notes discussions we came up with the concepts. At the mid-way presentation we were asked to combine two ideas:

The narrative:  A theatrical experience of the story, whilst working the size constraints. 4 children would sit inside the box and watch a mini-theatre unfold in-front. This is a possible stage for John Harrison's (A key figure in the longitude problem) workshop.​


Human Time keeper: this concept explored the problem of time keeping at sea.  By created a fictional scenario involving an inventor who is desperately trying to solve longitude, by using the human body to measure time.  Approach a pop-up workshop, the inventor asks the child to come in and carryout a few counting experiments. These scores are then drawn on a map, for example for every second you are out you are a degree of course.

Combining these together was great fun and one of the most exciting projects I have worked on.

Using 2 costumed facilitators, an inventor and an apprentice would enable the story and experience to unfold.  The apprentice will greet the children as they approach, seating the child inside of the box to view the mini theatre. This is where the challenge begins...

When the child exits the inventor will approach and ask the child to turn the cogs on the outside of the box 60 times, one for each second that has passed. When the child has complete the task a bell which chime and their time will be displayed. The inventor will check their time mark in on a map to see how accurate they are. In addition the inventor will carryout another experiment using a stethoscope and count how long it takes for 60 heart beats to pass. 

The overall aim of the concept was to tell the story of the longitude problem through a combination of theatre and performance. Not only did we want the children to understand the problem of longitude, we want them to feel part of the potential solution.

Two groups were chosen to present to Greenwich Maritime Museum and we were one of the groups. The museum really could see the potential of how we used the cubic-meter-box and said that this is something that could not only be used for the longitude exhibition but across the whole museum.



Hannah Kershaw,

Henrietta Jadin,

Alannah Hay.


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