Map-o-Matic

State Library Victoria’s Victoria Gallery’s inaugural exhibition, Velvet, Iron, Ashes opens up a new way of seeing Victoria’s unique history and reveals as never before, how a wide range of seemingly unrelated objects and stories link and intersect.

In collaboration with the gallery’s curator, Carolyn Fraser, Sandpit created the Map-o-Matic machine. The machine is a playful, tactile device that allows visitors to scroll through and select from over 50 archival artefacts (some never before seen) via the machine’s analogue mechanical dials and push-buttons.

In their exploration of the collection, visitors can find out how the armour of infamous bushranger Ned Kelly is connected to cricket’s celebrated Ashes Urn, how cotton candy is connected to Victoria’s Latrobe Valley electricity industry, and why the granddaughter of one of Australia’s prime ministers once wore a glittering velvet cloak that symbolised the Murray–Darling irrigation scheme.

A final push of the Map-o-Matic’s button prints out a physical, take-home map that takes visitors on a personalised tour of the gallery, revealing the rich web of connections that ties the exhibition together.

Sandpit’s Cipher platform does the hard work in the background. Curators are able to place objects on an interactive floor plan of the gallery which in turn allows Cipher to calculate the most direct root between objects. A dashboard reveals rich metrics on the usage of each of the two machines including print quantities and button pushes.