Mindcraft, a digital story produced by the Wellcome Collection and Clearleft

Wellcome launches digital story on mind control

Rebecca Atkinson, 09.12.2014
Mindcraft uses digital collections in new ways
The Wellcome Collection in London has launched the first in a series of digital stories that use objects from the collection to tell hidden tales.

Mindcraft explores the history of mind control, from mesmerism in Paris to hypnotism on Freud’s couch. Each of the six chapters focuses on a different historical moment, using archive material, interactive images, animation and text. It also uses graphic novels, animated hypnotic demonstrations and imagined Twitter spats to bring the history of mind control to life.

Danny Birchall, the digital manager at the Wellcome Collection and executive producer of Mindcraft, said: “Most people tell stories about their collections but we wanted to use our collection to tell new stories. It sounds like a fine distinction, but it’s a way of letting the stories deliver the content.”

Rather than just using objects from its existing digital collection, some of the featured documents and books were digitised specifically for Mindcraft, including original instructional documents by the German physician Franz Mesmer and surgeon James Esdaile’s accounts and illustrations of the operations he conducted under hypnotism in Bengal, India.

Some of the material is available under a Creative Commons licence, allowing users to view, download and reproduce the content.

The project took about two years from the concept stage to launch. Another digital story is planned for early 2015. The cost of the project is undisclosed, and Birchall said the aim was to experiment and push the form to see what could be done.

Mindcraft was produced in collaboration with digital agency Clearleft, and written by the author Mike Jay.The Wellcome Collection also worked with animation studio Beakus to create multimedia content, and Fonic PostProduction to produce an immersive soundscape that plays throughout.