So, after a mid-summer blog break, we’re back to our “weekly” inspirations about ideas we’ve come across that make us think about experiences, museums and the like. This week, we’ve encountered two interesting pieces that explore ideas we have mentioned before – reflection and light.
Using principles of reflection, projection, and some carefully crafted light beams along with scanning technology, they create a mesmerizing three-dimensional display. What’s interesting to us is two-fold. First, it shoes how powerful three-dimensional display can be without having the “resolution” that we normally associate with “display” in the museum setting. Certainly, there are aspects of content, text and other display elements that could utilize this same power.
Secondly, as clearly evident in the work, there are many mathematical and natural science phenomena on display in the work as it is. Certainly, this could be a powerful way to engage visitors with this content.
The second item we ran across plays directly with some of our other blog posts about reflection. Take a look at “wink” by Masakazu Sherine and Saya Miyazaki from Japan. It’s a walk-in kaleidoscope!
A fascinating part of this installation is that all of the panels are attached by zippers, making it almost infinitely changeable to the visitor – a kaleidoscope that changes while you are in it. This piece creates an almost magical space. It would be easy to see the same concept in an art or a children’s museum.
Where could you imagine installing these playful experiences? How would you adapt them to support something you’ve been thinking about or working on?
This week at the studio, we’ve been thinking and talking about ways to use technology to foster inquiry. This was sparked in part to a recent article in ed, the magazine for the Society of Experiential Graphics (click here to see the article) written by the studio’s very own Wayne LaBar. In addition if you are interested in exploring the subject further register for the SEGD Exhibition & Experience Design Workshop being held August 21 – 22 in Washington DC. Wayne and others will be speaking at it.
As part of our discussions, we came across an interesting video done by a GoPro video owner – it shows what goes on when you run your dishwasher. Watch below:
This video got us thinking about how everyday technologies that our visitors adopt or use can be co-opted to suggest and foster inquiry experiences in their lives and at museums. Let’s just take the GoPro camera system, for example. Here, we have a rugged, video data collection system that anyone can use. Imagine creating an experience where visitors are prompted to shoot the mysterious goings-on in neighborhood locales, or shoot video of places they can’t actually see, providing perspectives that one often doesn’t think about. This could be at home or even within a museum.
We believe we should be fostering ideas about how we might take new technologies that people are adopting and twist them into interesting new tools for investigating the world.
This seems like a creative way to think about and innovate toward some new experiences for museums, science centers, children’s museums, and other places.
Now that you’ve seen what’s happening inside a dishwasher, what else do you want to see? How might you use an everyday technology in a new way?
So, this week we have become very interested in the work of Matt Elson who creates Infinity Boxes. Perhaps some you have seen them at Burning Man.
Clearly, as indicated by the video (we’re sure the photographs only hint at the scene inside), the impact of these experiences is pretty special. As we have blogged about before, the exploration of infinity seems to fascinate people.
His work got us wondering about how the concept could be used to create similarly magical experiences about other subjects in ways that might be more impactful than a media piece. Ideas that have come to mind include the inside of a cell, a diorama of a nature scene, perhaps even the subatomic world, another planetary surface… or even a mathematical theorem.
His experiences are an example of how some of the most age-old exhibition techniques can be used to great effect – perhaps even more so in the context of our digital world.
What does this technique make you think of? Where does your imagination go?
“Ames Rooms” are found in many children’s museums and science centers. These spaces are physically distorted to create an optical illusion that makes people appear as giants on one side of the room or incredibly small on the other side of the room.
Well, while not an optical illusion but certainly as much fun, this tourist attraction at the VVT’s All-Russia Exhibition Center in Moscow piqued our interest and made us smile.
The experience is powerful and fun – and totally changes your perspective. Literally turning your world upside down is a great way to get people to observe and think differently.
As one begins to develop and design an exhibition, a strong design and development step is to do what this house does: take the subject and turn it on its head.
This way of thinking could suggest new and innovative ways to explore and present any subject.
Have you seen other “upside-down” worlds? What kinds of experiences have turned your world on its head?
In the design of exhibitions, there is often a desire to create immersive environments or experiences that allow visitors to lose themselves in the experience rather than be reminded that they are in a museum or exhibition.
An example of a simple approach through projection – but surely not an easy one to create – is Onion Skin by Olivier Ratsi, who is on the AntiVJ visual label.
This experience is an elegant and totally mesmerizing exploration of point-of-view, perspective and vanishing point. It relies on principle known as “anamorphosis” (your vocabulary word of the day). Onion Skin, as is, certainly has relevance to art and visual science content and would be at home at many museums/exhibitions.
As an approach for an immersive experience,it also points out how a simple setup, with creative programming, can become a powerful experience that transports visitors out of an exhibition.
It got us thinking about if and how this approach could be used for various subjects and how that might be achieved. What comes to mind for you?
A final wild thought would be translating this technique and blowing it up for use in a large-screen format. That would be a fun experiment, don’t you think? Share your ideas here.
An emerging technology that feels like it has the potential to offer some interesting experiences for specific installations is the drone. One example of the capabilities of these devices is this home movie of Niagara Falls created by a drone owner.
Some opportunities we in the museum field might explore with drones include giving visitors access to places they can’t physically explore and providing rare or inaccessible viewpoints. Just last week, while we were in the Pacific Northwest, the Woodland Park Zoo staff (avid readers of this blog) sent us an invitation to discuss their philosophy and approach to interpretation. The Zoo has award-winning experiences within large natural environments that mix species as they would be mixed in their natural ecosystems. The downside of this approach is that, at times, the animals are far away from the visitors. One of the ideas we brainstormed involved drones: Imagine letting visitors fly a drone out to find animals and observe them from a distance.
In addition to their function as remote viewers, drones also offer interesting insights into robotics, and they can provide excellent maker/tinkering opportunities. They offer a way for mobile device and their cameras to be used. Finally, they also provide a timely, relevant, and accessible experience through which to spark discussions about societal issues of technology, privacy, and information access.
Drones seem to be a ripe technology and medium for experience prototyping and designs.
We would love to hear your ideas about how drones might be used. Share your thoughts here.
In previous posts we mentioned how changing one’s viewpoint can offer new opportunities for experiences in an exhibition. A new technology just crossed our desks here at the studio, and we think it’s pretty amazing.
Here is the Dynamic Target Tracking Camera System.
The way the tracking systems follows a moving object has sparked our thoughts about how such a system might be applied to a wide variety of science center experiences. It would be interesting, for example, to combine this system with a gravity well and observe the arrival of the hole rather that the ball. Also, one could launch several balls into a well and track each independently by projecting a unique number on each. We could advance that even further by projecting the speed of the ball directly on the ball itself as it accelerates toward the hole.
A similar concept could be used in a Rhodes Ball Machine – but one in which you get to project your face on a ball as it moves through the machine. That’s just one way to personalize this type of experience. Of course, this technology could be used for many sports exhibits, too – like following a pitcher’s curve ball or tracking a golf ball trajectory.
Let your imagination run wild. How else might this be applied in the museum field?
What about outside the museum field? How could you imagine using this technology in other ways?
With this being a holiday week here in the US this week’s inspiration takes on a whimsical and playful turn.
We recently ran across this wonderful illusion experience that would be at home “as is” in so many places we have worked with. This is the Dalston House by Leandro Erlich done for the Barbican.
The shear elegance of the concept is amazing. Certainly the basic idea of this experience could be replicated for so many other “environments” and could be themed in ways that reflect different content.
But one of the key points of this experience is its “instagram” moment. (Perhaps in some bygone area we might call it a “Kodak” moment or “Polaroid” moment – by the way, when did a bygone era mean in our lifetime J ) Certainly used in theme park design but at times not used enough in exhibition design is creating a viewpoint, a moment where visitors can memorialize their experience. This beautiful example is a wonderful reminder of this.
In today’s digital photo, anytime world, creating these moments are a powerful experience on many levels.
Share with us where you see these in exhibitions you visit.
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!