Friday, October 21, 2011

Talk to Me Exhibition (Revision)

Kacie Kinzer, Tweenbots, 2009

Multitouch Barcelona, Hi, A Real Human Interface, 2009

The skills of new age artists; passion, vision, creativity, and humility are displayed in the special exhibition at The Museum of Modern Art, Talk to Me: Design and Communication Between People and Objects. Crossing the main lobby of MOMA, the first piece of creative technology you will see is Tweenbots, a cardboard robot with a smiling face designed by Kacie Kinzer (2009). It frequently bumps into people armed with a flag that asks them to talk with it, and depending on the visitor’s reactions, it may walk with them. Some people don’t notice the robot; others are filled with intrigue and amazement while interacting with him and taking his picture.

The exhibition starts from outside the third floor with a wall decoration of pixilated characters from digital games. Talking Carl, by Yann Le Coroller (2010), is an interactive feature that welcomes visitors at the entrance. A red box-shaped creature, Talking Carl has the ability to respond to sound and touch. If no one is interacting with him, he starts making funny noises like sneezing or laughing just to grab people’s attention. Walking through the hallway, eight LCD screens display different imaginative video projects, including a human doing a computer’s daily work (open and compose emails to upgrade software) project called Hi, A Real Human Interface by Multitouch Barcelona (2009). Watching a human isolated inside a box made me feel unhappy and think how we are getting disconnected from the world around us, but at the same time computers can connect us. Concepts like these make one think and experience how objects function from a human perception and establish for them an emotional connection.

The main space of the show, designed as a maze, is divided into six categories; objects, bodies, life, city, worlds, and double entendre. There is a lot to absorb. The various interactions and sounds created between people and objects can be overwhelming. All the objects are communicating either by lighting up, displaying text messages, playing music, changing color, and even talking back. Visitor’s reaction to such interactions is priceless; from shuffling impatiently, laughing aloud, or scanning the QR code (a digital square pattern that placed next to each project to lunch a special app/website) by using their smartphones as they walk around the exhibition. Talk to Me highlights the experience of people communicating with objects through design, which continues to improve to finally reach into a museum show.

1 comment:

  1. This exhibition was one of my favorites so far, having visited it three times and enjoying every second if it. I think that you touched upon an accurate description of the exhibition space (the entry, the layout, the hustle and bustle, and myriad of interfaces begging for attention) but didn't dig deep enough and expose the main points of the exhibition. The quote you added at the end, "I communicate therefore I am" is only the beginning of what the entirety of the the exhibition stands for.

    Despite the hustle and bustle of the flashing lights, displays, and objects (which may or may not appeal to the masses) is it important to extract the underlying theme, despite the method and layout that the exhibition decided to use to communicate these themes. The important key factors of the exhibition is how (and the consequences of) these technologies are shaping our every day life without the public even acknowledging this. Before our eyes, rapid communication networks, the internet, and the like are changing and shaping our world in ways that are unfathomable. These social changes bear consequences to the public which should be recognized but often go overlooked, with Facebook/twitter/etc. being integrated to the most simple and routine tasks. Artists and art historians place "art" on a pedestal to respond or provoke social change, so I think these technologies are rightfully showcased in the art museum environment, as they are interpreting and demonstrating aspects of our culture just as a painting or sculpture does.

    Also, as a follower and avid reader of a number of technology blogs, I want to point out that QR codes are a relatively old technology, and their implementation are slowly being phased out for newer technologies such as NFC chips. When I saw that MoMA was using extensively using QR codes for such a progressive show, I was actually shocked.

    if you want to know more, read this article: