January 2013

light shadow mirror: viewpoint – weekly inspiration

A recent rash of projects that are definitely making us think includes works by these two artists.


The first set is by Rashad Alakbarov who hails from Azerbaijan. He recently displayed these works at the De Pury Gallery in the show called Fly to Baku. Here is a write-up from art wednesday.



The second set, which has also gotten some recent press, is by Jonty Hurwitz.

What both of these have in common is their powerful exploration of the importance of one “viewpoint.” Certainly, we know that whether it be looking at past moments in history, interpreting art, or even discussing science (just consider the observer impact in quantum mechanics), where one observes and when one observes have powerful effects on experience.

In thinking about exhibitions and museums, it appears at times that we concentrate too much on restricted singular views of subjects from particular institutional types: art in the art museum, science in the science museum, history in the history museum. What has gotten us thinking is how subjects like “viewpoint” can be a fascinating and intriguing way of blending all of these.

This may be fertile ground for many museums to really stress the cross connections. These pieces are just two powerful examples of art and science coming together.

We are now on the hunt for more interesting takes on “viewpoints” and we think there is an exhibition that could take shape. Look for more examples over the coming weeks and please feel free to send us yours.

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Rocket Scientist

Recently Wayne LaBar, founder of ALCHEMY stdio was interviewed by Paul Orselli on his blog ExhibiTricks.


The next frontier is for museums to embody the passion they are about. Too often museum organizations’ structures stymie passion in visitors and staff. Museums need to let go.

He shares several interesting insights about exhibitions and museums.You can find the interview here.

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non-gravity gravity well : weekly inspiration

The interface between the digital data and modeling world and the 3D world will certainly be one of the richest areas of innovation – in our everyday lives and, as a result, in exhibition design, too. The latest inspiring effort that we found is Zero N by from the Tangible Media Group at MIT’s Media Lab, created by Jinha Lee in collaboration with Rehmi Post and Hiroshi Ishii

What struck us immediately is the almost magical but realistic-looking modeling of gravity and other physical aspects such as the progression of the sun around the earth. While certainly in its early stages, the technology found here offers the ability to model other aspects of physics in a new way that may, in fact, be more effective for visitors. I’m sure others out there can come up with an exciting list of possible uses.

True to our name as ALCHEMY studio, we are continually trying to document, think about, use, and riff on new developments such as these. As home entertainment systems, computers and mobile devices rapidly evolve, the digital information and digital interfaces that museums employ will need to change.

Certainly, one direction that museums must explore is making experiences (exhibits, events, special installations, programs) that utilize new ways in which the actual physical world interacts with the digital world.

So, whether it is an interface/model such as ZeroN made possible by computers, or the interplay of projection, data and spandex in Firewall, our efforts to engage visitors will need to stretch to create experiences that aren’t possible at home.


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floating on a bubble

A museum/gallery experience that has been making the rounds a while in the studio is Tomás Saraceno’s On Space Time Foam.


We are excited and intrigued with the opportunity it gives visitors to actually float in or step on a mega scale bubble/foam structure. This certainly fits into our whole fascination with scale.

One can imagine this is what it is like to be miniaturized and walk amongst a soap bubble cluster.

Obviously this experience could be an incredibly powerful additional component to a bubble area.

But more intriguing is to use such an experience to communicate something about materials, or about the very structure of the universe. Just imagine finding this experience in a space or planetarium institution. It would be an exhibit that might change the very nature of what people expect in institutions such as this.

What other connections does it suggest to you?

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firewall – inspiration weekly

The first thing that has captured our eye this year is this engaging and beautiful piece called Firewall:

It’s both artistic and musical and has an almost magical feel. It certainly would fit into many of the institutions we know. This was created by Aaron Sherwood created in collaboration with Michael Allison.

In addition, the experience has made us “riff” off of this piece for new experiences we might be part of, including:

-          explaining topography

-          exploring earthquakes

-          physically demonstrating sound waves

-          creating an illusionary environment

We would love to hear your ideas!

Meanwhile, back in October we were captured by the work of Antonin Fourneau and the Water Light Graffiti system. So now we have both fire and water. We just need to add earth and air and we’ll have the alchemy quattro.


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