June 2013

Real Time Experiences

Some ideas reappear over and over again in exhibition design. One recurring theme is the idea of displaying information or events in real time. Instances we’ve discussed in the past include aircraft in the sky, internet traffic, cars on the NJ turnpike, and many other element of modern life. Now, it’s even possible to track some of these on your cell phone.

This week we wanted to point out a couple of examples we’ve recently run across that might interest anyone trying to provide visitors an understanding of how we are using communication technology today.

The first is a piece call Pirate Cinema, produced by Nicolas Maigret and Brendan Howell.



In this piece, viewers are treated to a cinematic montage of media segments being shared in peer-to-peer networks through BitTorrent. It provides a real-time sneak peek at an activity taking place throughout and across the world that is fundamentally changing many industries and even changing societies as a whole.

The second examples is the website Tweetping by Franck Ernewein.



Check it out!

Here, one can watch the world of Twitter just wash by across the planet. It can be mesmerizing to see subjects and topics sweep across the globe. These experiences seem to capture a live display of the state of the planet, and they share some important points that might be relevant to exhibition planning and design:

First, they are real. Here are digital media experiences showing real phenomena or technology. They are about real data.

One could argue, too, that these show real phenomena in the same way that, say, a pendulum exhibit demonstrates an actual physics phenomenon.

The second important point is that these experiences makes the hidden, the unseen visible in a dynamic way – and, in these cases, in ways that allow us to look back at ourselves.

Exhibits that explore the hidden parts of being human are always fascinating.

What new ideas do these examples spark for you?

One interesting idea might be to have an exhibition where all of the experiences provide a similar kind of living pulse of our planet.

What would you want to see in such an exhibition?


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putting you in orbit

Earlier this year, we highlighted a project by Tomás Saraceno’s called On Space Time Foam. There we were excited about how this experience allows for perhaps the closest opportunity for visitors to feel what it might be like to be inside a piece of foam. In addition, we mentioned how, very often, in creating experiences about astronomy and space, the science museum/center field does not embrace the larger-scale experiences that might provide more emotional and visceral responses.

Well,Tomás has a new work that once again demonstrates this idea. Opening today at the K21 Ständhaus (kunstsammlung nordrhein-westfalen) in Düsseldorf is his new work “In Orbit.”




Just looking at these images sparks the idea of allowing brave visitors the chance to walk out in the piazza, over 60 feet in the air, and experience what it might be like to be immersed in some of those classic images from science fiction film where the view swoops by planets or orbs. In addition, Tomás mentions that one can detect other visitors by sensing vibrations that propagate through the netting.

One wonders if one could riff on this idea and actually make a model of the solar system that visitors could float above, allowing them to potentially “travel” between our planet and our nearest neighbors. Perhaps this is the closest many of us will get to fulfilling a dream we might have of going into space.

What ideas come to mind for you?

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Outside/Breaking the Rules Fun

So, summer has arrived here on the northern part of our planet, and this week’s inspiration focuses on experiences that “break the rules. ’’ Here, we explore ideas that allow participants to step outside their normal “roles” or be part of activities not normally open to public participation. The summer connection is that, at times, these activities take us outdoors. First, let’s look at breaking new ground in the participant’s role. Instant Art Career is a  new piece at the Katowice Street Art Festival by the artists niklas roy and  kati hyyppä

                                                                                                                In this experience, participants stand outside and create a painting using a series of ropes with pulleys attached to a CNC machine. This set-up allows the movement of the ropes and pulleys to define  colors and paint locations. As the website shows, many of these works are created by multiple participants. The second experience challenges our location expectations. While not a typical museum, the new  Hot Tub Cinema looks like a lot of fun!            















This is an unexpected opportunity to share the experience of watching a film and becoming part of a public party. Looking at the pictures, it’s hard not to want to just “dive” (pardon the pun) into these events. These very engaging examples point to some interesting tools we should keep in our quivers as we design experiences:

-        “Breaking the rules” is inherently engaging, whether it be something not normally done publically or as a group, or where we take on roles

-        Outdoor experiences offer opportunities for group participation and for creating experiences that are greater than the sum of their parts

So, might we take the idea of an instant hot tub party and create an instant science party? Or might we adapt the creative role-play of the painting activity to a science experience? How can you envision using these ideas? Let’s all go outside and break some rules!

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Physical and the digital – inspiration while in Europe at the ECSITE 13 conference

So, a thread that, here at the studio, we believe is ripe for an explosion of innovation in both design and experience is

how we bring together the physical and digital worlds.

Many of our former blogs postings focus on this interplay. Since many of us who are part of the studio have science, design or engineering degrees, it makes some sense that we’d be intrigued by connections between the physical and the digital and how those connections might apply to a variety of future projects. Here are two new examples:

The first is Murmur created by Chevalvert2RoqsPolygraphik and Splank.






What is interesting here is the physical connection between the visitor’s sound and the representation on the screen. The literalness and physicality of this connection create a strong response between the experience and the digital display. Additionally, visitors manipulate a digital display of information via a physical interface that is not one of the expected devices normally used (screen, mouse, keyboard, knob etc.).


This week’s second inspiration piece is the projection on the Museum of Art and History in Geneva created by Onionlab. This production is called Evolució


While projecting on a building is not new, what this projection does is actually use the surface, the museum, as the star of the show. The physical world makes the projection “sing.” Too often in exhibition design attention is paid only to the digital content being projected. Perhaps, instead, we should start from the other way around:

“Here we have a special physical object. How could a projection added to it create something new and transformative?”

What do you think? Where have you seen interesting interplay between the physical and digital worlds?


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