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!
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:
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?
Museum and science centers continue to explore and experiment with how to incorporate mobile devices into their experiences. One motivation is the incredible capacity of today’s modern smart phones – devices more powerful than the first computers put on a museum floor.
However, the field’s experimentation has focused primarily on the device as separate from the experiences in the exhibition environment. The devise is an add-on to the experience itself.
What if the only way to interact with an exhibit was with a mobile device?
The first experience that caught our eye was the one named LIFT
Here, you put your phone system in a hoist that lifts it high above the exhibit floor and then back down – capturing video the whole time. The visitor thus gets their own “bird’s eye” view of the exhibition, with this experience offering a different perspective and creating personal memories for each visitor.
The second intriguing experience was TINY.
Here, a portable video magnifier was attached to an iPad, thus allowing visitors to explore the micro-world around them. Imagine offering a magnifier that visitors can attach to their tablet and use to explore an entire museum!
The third was WARP
Here, visitors could use their mobile device’s camera to record an image from a two-sided kaleidoscope. This exhibit points to the idea of embedding video or image opportunities directly into an experience.
Each of these shows a different creative approach to incorporating mobile devices into museum environments.
Rather than depend on an app, look to make the phone an integral part of the exhibit “structure,” an integral part of the main experience.
The importance of structure and the message it portrays was also evident in another exhibit included, called BOOM.
Here, using a boom microphone, you dramatically get the stories of objects. This experience harkens back to the sound bottles we discussed in an earlier post and the idea of physical metaphor.
We salute the great ideas these students presented. We look forward to seeing more!
Here at the studio we still remember playing as a kid inside a store’s changing room where the mirrors on the left and the right were on hinges. This allowed us to turn them to face each other and we could step between them and see ourselves disappear into what seemed like infinity.
We as humans seem to have an affinity to peer into infinity.
Thinking about this the incredible appeal of peering into the infinite is one that is filled with mystery, the unknown, a world beyond our own. It taps into the human desire to explore and understand.
This work allows us to look into an infinite garden. It would seem that in this piece the longing of wanting to explore the space might be even more pronounced since one is actually outside and “just outside” too.
The second way in which it works is to enter inside where you find yourself at the center of infinity where you are invited to swing.
Here at the studio we are struck by the way these seem to tap into some primal desire of humans to look into infinity and the emotions that evoke. The playfulness, mystery, seeking understanding, are all very powerful.
In creating exhibition design as much as we look for education learning impacts tied to curriculum in today’s modern museum thinking – we strongly urge that we should set emotions such as these at the core of what we are designing as well. While there may in fact need to be more didactic exhibits, paired with experiences that touch these emotional goals, an exhibition can create a much more memorable and impactful outcome. Much like the simple experiences of that infinity we found in the store’s changing room.
So here in the Unites States, ALCHEMY studio and many of our colleagues in museums, science centers, designers, fabricators, and media producers are headed to the American Alliance of Museums annual conference in Baltimore. So this week’s inspiration is just a little flight of fancy as we pack our bags and as always don’t forget to pack an umbrella. You never know! See you there! (booth 411)
So, a few days ago, we posted the new interface/augmented reality project by Fujitsu Laboratories. This offers some interesting ideas for integrating augmented reality into museum exhibition environments. Now we have a new one to take a look at.
Here is another new digital interface that offers more fascinating ways to interact with digital information. AquaTop turns a pool of water into an interactive, three-dimensional digital interface surface.
AquaTop is a projection system that uses something like bath salts to create a white water screen surface. (Most likely, other substances could work as well.) The other components include a sensor system (in this case, Kinect), a projector, lighting control, and interactive programming. The system won the Grand Prize at Laval Virtual this year.
There is something intuitive and pleasing about the physicality of water and the common digital “touch” interface. Makes one wonder what other actions we might develop if we projected on water more often.
One particularly fascinating thing about AquaTop is that it directly and visually demonstrates multiple points of interface – for example, by showing visible markers when someone touches the surface with multiple fingers – from under the surface! We’re also intrigued about using other sensor systems and how we might manipulate things like waves or other physical water phenomena. We can also imagine some truly creative and fun ways to incorporate this technology into a water play area or other water related exhibit.
AquaTop has some similar attirbutes to the posting we had about 3d projections. You can check out that earlier post here.
What ideas do you have? We’d love to hear what you’re imagining.
A shout-out to Louise Julie Bertrand who pointed us to this project – thank you.
This piece done in Linz, Austria allowed experiencers to get the view of feeling of walking amongst the clouds that might fill the sky. The installation uses high pressure pumps and fog nozzles. What a special experience this might be to have as part of an institution from a aviation museum, children’s museum to an exhibition on weather, birds or even dreaming.
The second piece is “fluff” an interactive lighting system from the Japanese design studio tangent.
This interactive lighting display made from balloons (1.1 meters in diameter) and LEDs changes its appearance according to sound and video displays. What immediately came to mind was to use this to create the feeling of being beneath the waves surrounded by “jellies” or as an evocative space to discuss the idea of different forms of life such as what might evolve on a gas giant.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if our field’s exhibition spaces would focus as much on this type of inspiration as they often do on curricula or education.
As technologies develop, the interaction and interplay between the physical world and the digital world become more enmeshed. Certainly, this is an area of continual development and exploration in exhibition design – in particular in dealing with what has traditionally been 2D graphics. Recently there has been a proliferation of moving away from physically printed panels to providing digital touch panels that take advantage of what the digital medium can provide.
A twist that suggests a different approach, or one that offers interesting differences, is the new system generated by Fujitsu Laboratories , which is an augmented reality user interface.
How this might be used in an exhibit/exhibition medium is a fascinating thought. Rather than incorporating a light-emitting screen, one could still create physical graphics that have a hidden overlay of depth or could be sampled to a “digital scrapbook” without the need for any screen. In addition, the idea of other printed material, of physically built material, or even artifacts having direct interplay with such a system is exciting to contemplate. From a design perspective,
what is nice about this approach is the clarity and simplicity of the interface and the design, as well as the invisibility of the technology with the physical object.
Finally, it also turns around the whole augmented reality approach. Rather than the added information requiring viewing on a digital device, it instead becomes part of the very physical object one is manipulating.
So, every once in a while we run across an interactive that just delights and makes us say “What a fun time.” Here is one that was on display last year in Brooklyn that was too much fun. You might have seen it. Check out Wildbytes’ “Super Heroes” piece.
One point to think about that makes this much better than any other “blue screen” experience is the immense scale of the activity. As mentioned in previous posts, scale is often overlooked in our field’s approach to tabletop, individual or small group exhibition design.
Often science centers and other museums look to engage people about how to understand different aspects of phenomena in three dimensional space on two dimensional displays (screens, graphics etc.).
What we often do not do is represent the three dimensional space in actual 3D space, allowing us to present the phenomena’s behavior in more powerful ways.
But since we are three dimensional creatures possibly this is the best way to understand or appreciate 3d space and what occurs there – seen or unseen.
Here are two examples that certainly one can riff on that made us think about this. The first is FLUIDIC by WHITEvoid.
Using 12,000 suspended spheres, a camera that senses the viewer and eight high speed lasers it creates an almost magical experience. We believe that being illuminated by laser light adds something special. Certainly a concept programmed to both enchant but to do so mimicking certain scientific phenomena could be impactful. By the way want to see this in person? Go to the Temporary Museum for New Design in Milan where it will be on display through April 14th.
This piece includes 8,064 spheres and LED lit. It too responds to visitors. This time though it’s possible to enter the space. Imagine explaining crystal structure, data movement or some other unseen movement through 3D space. You can see this at the Gallery ROM for Art and Architecture in Oslo, Norway
Often we fixate the on screens as the visual way to present information. What we may need to do more of is dedicate more space and create 3D spaces to represent 3D phenomena. We feel this creates an experience and opportunity that in fact is more powerful that what we have normally done.
If you know of more examples send them to us here on the blog.