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.
The second piece that is similar but different is Submergence done by a group known as Squidsoup
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.
Something we have been running across has been videos that have been exploring what can be observed and what becomes apparent of as one looks at a scene/event/through a compressed or extended time period. For example:
“Departures from San Diego Int Airport Dec 27, 2012” by Cy Kuckenbake
The title provides a self-explanatory interpretation of six hours of aircraft departures at the San Diego International Airport. It is powerful way to make a common everyday experience incredibly amazing as well as impart the scale of a technological activity that occurs every day.
Meanwhile the film “Street” showing at the Metropolitan Museum of Art by James Nares
This slows down time while also using time as way to transect geographically the city of New York. It allows one to examine the in “moving” detail the incredible complexity of city life.
These experience point how we as experience developers and designers should at times break out of our “in the moment” experiences.
As we look at content and stories one should think how time can be manipulated to bring a new perspective and aid the impact we wish to create.
Let us know what amazing time “pieces” you know of
One of the projects we are working on here at the studio is a film that will explore engineering and the amazing achievements we can as a species succeed at, as well as the challenges that we face from what we do and the solutions engineering may provide. As part of our work we are always on the look for great ways to visualize what we now call the Anthropocene epoch. The geologic age of human influence. Here is a dramatic one ’Welcome to the Anthropocene’
This is the work of Globaia, a organization that attempts to educate people on understanding the modern world and the issues our environment and planet faces. Here are some stills
An image dramatically showing how our civilization networks (transportaion, power, cities) fade into the norther wilds of Canada.
The transportation, power and cities of Europe and Asia
Flight between North America and Europe
A map of energy: pipelines are orange, power lines are white, underwater cables are blue
These images present the yin and yang of our civilization.
The way we are becoming a networked planet and species and at the same time how we are impacting every single square mile of the planet. Too often the conversations that seem to revolve around the issues we face are one sided. Rather we look at these amazing images and see on one hand the amazing achievement of how we can connect ourselves both physically and electronically sharing information and materials, building and creating incredible works. We also see the issues and impacts that this endeavor makes on our planet and realize that the price we are paying is at times too much for our world to sustain. Only together with our ingenuity and innovation can we improve on what will always be an eternal dilemma.
Feel free to send us any links that you know of or come across that depict the two sides of the coin that these images show.
To combat the winter blahs this week our inspiration takes us back to playing with scale but with a little levity. As we have mentioned before, playing with scale is both an artist’s as well as a designer’s invaluable tool. While used as a sense of awe, its role in creating humor and fun – a moment of levity in a serious world or serious museum “environment” – should perhaps be explored more often. Here are two favorites that have passed by our desk this week.
The first is the great installation called “Bad Dog” (we need to admit that ALCHEMY studio has two office Labradors).
Yes, that’s yellow paint that get sprayed on the museum wall. Check out the public’ reaction through this local tv story!
This work, done by Richard Jackson, is part of an exhibition called “Ain’t Painting A Pain” at the Orange County Museum of Art, which provides a retrospective of the Los Angeles artist’s work.
The second is the piece “Calamidad Cósmica” by the artist Luciana Rondolini.
These giant popsicles are intended to have viewers reflect on the process of time elapsing. Of course, they also evoke the fun and memories that such items have played in one’s life. Surely an exhibit such as this would be great fun in a children’s museum or as a surprise encounter in an outside gallery.
Be sure to send us your fun encounters with scale and look for some upcoming inspirations sparked by ideas about time.
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?
So over the past few weeks there has been another set of playing with scale that caught our eye and perhaps some of this blog’s readers since they may have seen them in person. The examples continue the theme:
The unexpected and almost whimsical use of scale attracts attention, inspires levity and whimsy, and can often bring a point home.
A future blog post will cover the subject of levity but we here at ALCHEMY studio feel that this often an underused tool in our collective experience tool box. The first scale example some readers may have seen in Chicago is by the artist or artists named Bored. Here are some examples cited by Nate Berg of the Atlantic, several people on Reddit. Check out the messages on the cards!
We would love to see more so please send us links to pics if you have some.
A second is the “lego” work don by Megx. Here using a little paint and imagination a bridge in Wuppertal, Germany is transformed.
Both of these examples suggest also that museums and cultural institutions could possibly extend both brand, experience and a small bit of perhaps a lighthearted aspect of their mission (play, science is cool, arts all around us, etc.) by engaging in imaginative ways with the city canvas.
So it would appear that even we as institutions can be become the focus of scale and yes it still is fascinating for all the reasons of the former blog post. At the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) Graduate Exhibition Design Thesis this lovely model of the New York Hall of Science’s Wallace Harrison– designed Great Hall wsa on display. Model done by Marlene Paufler, graduatee student, of her project the Science of Dreams.
Here the Hand of God comes down to interact with the Great Hall.
God is played by Paul Orselli (eat you heart out Eric Siegel!) Look for more in the near term about the entire FIT graduate event.
Some recent encounters with several exhibits and experiences have been a reminder of the magic and impact that playing with scale can have on us and is a reminder that this is an important tool in the out “tool box” here at ALCHEMY studio and for other designers.
Scale forces us to reevaluate the importance of the object or the importance of ourselves. We can experience the “impossible.”
The purposes of this discussion refer to the idea of scale reference a parameter of an object’s size. By object we might mean the “artifact” that is the exhibit or we may mean the an environmental piece that sets a context for an exhibition
Here are two recent examples encountered at the Walker Art Center
Making something big:
Folding chair Robert Therrien
Photos: Wayne LaBar and Paul Schmelzer; Walker Art Center blog
Making something small
Maurizio Cattelan Untitled
Photos : Wayne LaBar
Mulling on this and thinking of other successful examples used by other museums such as the giant heart at the Franklin Institute, the images we see on in IMAX and giant screen films or on the small scale the model railroads at the Carnegie Science Center, the Lego amusement worlds found over the globe it – what is it that attracts us to this and often makes these experiences memorable and extraordinary. In addition, there are times when this fails. Numerous are the examples of large “walk through human bodies” that never seem to rise above a feeling of “fake” or “schlock.” Detail , quality and immersiveness are key
So some observation on successful uses of scale.
- Allows us to appreciate detail and form we normally can’t see or ignore
- Allows us to explore places physically that are normally inaccessible
- Allows us to reevaluate the importance of the object or the importance of ourselves
- Allows us to experience the ” impossible”, the unusual, the imaginary
- Allows us possibly to harken back to our childhood, as adults, and re-experience the discovery of scale
What other ideas come to mind about the power of these playful, thoughtful and imaginative uses of scale?