Art Comes Alive With Interactivity

Art Comes Alive With Interactivity

A design exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York offers viewers a host of mobile-based interactivity in its examination of how modern technology has changed the texture of everyday life and communication.

The New York-based museum’s “Talk to Me” exhibition, which opened on July 24, features nearly 200 objects and works that explore the relationship between people, objects and the role of technology to enhance those interactions. The show is highly interactive, allowing visitors to access information and interact with the individual artworks using phones and social media through QR codes.

The interactive show, curated by MOMA senior curator Paola Antonelli, and Kate Carmody, a curatorial assistant, is a broad examination of what Antonelli calls “pancommunication,” as enabled by technology, in which relationships can be built through all kinds of interaction. Its works range from crowd-pleasing multiplayer video games to animal-like robots to chipboards rendered as plant life, all illustrating how technology on all levels now fosters a constant desire to communicate.

“People need to communicate with each other,” said Antonelli to the Huffington Post. “But they also communicate with objects, with cities, with the Internet, with literally everything.”

Mobile and social technology play an inherent role in several of the works: a device called “BakerTweet” alerts users, via Twitter and an electronic sign, to the arrival of fresh croissants in the museum’s cafe, while artist Adi Marom’s robotic footwear will beam a video of the shoes in action to smartphones, along with a link that allows users to read and enter comments on Twitter.

Gaming and other interactivity features in other parts of the exhibition. Viewers can participate in the multiplayer video game “Tentacles,” screened on the ground floor of the museum, or help herd lost robots through the galleries as well.

Everyday objects such as personalized ATM machines and a New York City MetroCard vending machine also are featured, with new interfaces that offer a glimpse into the future. They share space with quirkier works, such as designs for a building in Tokyo where the entire facade is a QR code.

Some works are odd gadgets that offer insight into emotions and physical sensations. “Happylife,” a thermal mood camera that measures stress and tension, while “Menstruation Machine” is a device that shows men what it feels like to menstruate by stimulating the lower abdomen with electrodes.

“Talk to Me” may be one of the largest-scale exhibitions featuring new technologies, but modern methods of communication have featured in smaller-scale works such as “The Attendants,” a performance and installation at New York’s World Financial Center earlier this year that solicited input from viewers through text messages.

“Talk to Me” runs until November 7.

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