I’m constantly curious about innovation in the design of experiences, and that inevitably causes my head to turn when someone unveils promising new technologies. But lately I have been more compelled by new thinking that doesn’t require gadgetry to make me look twice. We’ve seen galleries made of pure color, an exhibit that uses your sense of smell instead of one you’d expect, and other surprises. The latest in this hopefully growing trend for me is the work of Korean-German artist Jeongmoon Choi, who creates magical spaces with nothing but some string and UV lights. Note to self: don’t wait for the next electronics product announcement to conceive something fresh.
Behold the Lenovo IdeaCentre Horizon, a new “table PC” all-in-one steathily introduced at CES (so much so that I missed it completely until just now). The name isn’t much better than “Microsoft PixelSense”, but the pricetag ($1,699) might help it break through where said famously unsuccessful and overpriced ($10,000) multitouch ancestor couldn’t. Size-wise, it’s a lot more portable than some monsters out there, and the design looks pretty appealing in the demo videos. Fingers crossed that this is the one that makes multitouch tables – er, table PCs – more feasible for the masses.
If you spend any time trying to think big thoughts about how to make technology truly meaningful, or even if you just worry your smartphone is slowly taking your place, this is the short documentary for you. From the Vimeo writeup:
The 18 minute "Connecting" documentary is an exploration of the future of Interaction Design and User Experience from some of the industry's thought leaders. As the role of software is catapulting forward, Interaction Design is seen to be not only increasing in importance dramatically, but also expected to play a leading role in shaping the coming "Internet of things." Ultimately, when the digital and physical worlds become one, humans along with technology are potentially on the path to becoming a "super organism" capable of influencing and enabling a broad spectrum of new behaviors in the world.
The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) is on right now in Las Vegas, with updates from the show floor pouring in from every blog in the universe. New products range from incredibly brilliant to incredibly bizarre, with plenty of incredibly large. One such giant is a touch-table the size of a small bed: 3M’s new 84 inch multitouch unit, with up to 60 simultaneous touch points. Next year: queen size?
When Carlos Cruz-Diez began, it wasn’t called “installation art”, but rather the Kinetic Movement. He has been hard at work on his “Chromosaturation” series ever since, with two shows currently in Paris and Mexico. Using only very simply filtered flourescent lights, he changes the entire feeling of a space. Even the color of the visitors themselves changes, as they interact by moving through the zones of red, green and blue.
The chromatic spaces act as detonators to alter the perception of its audience – modifying skin color, clothing and objects – shocking viewers’ retinas from the changing visual saturation as they move from booth to booth. Cruz-Diez experiments with the spectator’s quotidian experience of color, disrupting the way light is processed by the human eye – creating an aesthetic universe that submerges the observer in the artist’s autonomous reality of color, time and space.
This month in Washington D.C., the National Building Museum is staging an exhibition devoted in part to [architect David Rockwell's] Imagination Playground. Installed in the museum’s wide galleries, Play Work Build chronicles the history of active play in the most appropriate way possible: by asking visitors to actually play the games. A massive series of shelves offers more than 2,300 architectural and construction games, from Froebel Blocks to Tinker Toys. Some of the building games date back to the 1870s.
Now showing at NYU’s Institute for the Study of the Ancient World, “Echoes of the Past: The Buddhist Cave Temples of Xiangtangshan” includes a “digital cave”:
Weaving together archival photographs and current imaging technology, the Digital Cave serves as a virtual reconstruction of the South Cave at Northern Xiangtangshan. This immersive installation allows viewers to experience the site and see sculptures that have been removed from the cave restored within their original setting. The configuration and scale of the three screens are based on the architecture of the South Cave, the latest of the three cave temples of the northern group and one that contains inscriptions dated to 568–572. The South Cave features an open cubical chamber, about ten feet wide by nine feet deep, with curving recesses on the back and side walls that house symmetrical groupings of deities.
Inexplicably excellent: Out Of Print is a live printing installation that scrambles up Twitter trending topics with an iPad, then sends the results to be letterpress printed. From outofprint on Vimeo, via Creators Project.
The Venice Architecture Biennale closed this weekend, shuttering a few remarkable pavilions. The Chilean Pavilion sticks in my mind in particular, largely thanks to this video of it by director Christobal Palma.
“By perfecting the atmosphere in a room, Dutch artist Berndnaut Smilde makes clouds appear out of thin air. In what seems like Photoshop or magic, Smilde carefully regulates the humidity, temperature and light of a space—and when the moment is right, he summons the cloud using a fog machine. The cottony cloud only lasts a few moments for it to be captured on film, and suspends in the middle of the room just before it collapses—evoking a sense of surrealism and ephemerality of nature.”
Does all innovation in exhibition design have to be purely technology-driven? That’s what I was asking myself just this morning. And right on time, along comes a Times review of “The Art of Scent 1889-2012,” the new exhibit at the Museum of Art and Design, changing the primary sense used by exhibit visitors from visual to olfactory. And demonstrating that innovation can come in many flavors. Or smells.
Anyone who has designed both cultural exhibits and expo booths knows that although both are called “exhibits,” they can be as different as they are alike.
And that’s why I like this graphic, just published in Exhibitor Magazine: not only do I agree with all of these insights, but with a few small word changes, they would all apply to both kinds of “exhibits.”