Talk To Me Exhibit at MoMA Examines Communication Between People & Objects

by , 07/27/11

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Antonelli, working with curatorial assistant Kate Carmody, divided the exhibit into six categories: objects, bodies, life, city, worlds, and double entendre. The designs emphasize our increasing desire to share information and have a personal dialogue with objects is driving force behind design. Fittingly, the curators set up a blog where they shared all of the possible submissions as they planned the show. Pieces in the final show range from furniture and accessories to machines and buildings.

Some of the designs, like the BIX Communicative Display Skin, are already implement in the real world. Created by Jan and Tim Elder of realities:united, the skin transforms the facade of a biomorphic art museum in Austria into a gigantic urban screen. Light rings atop the screen can be adjusted for brightness, and the screen can be used to enhance the museum’s communication with the community. MoMA writes, “The modular system embodies a vision of architecture as a changing, moving, and performing medium and demonstrates an accessible, eco-conscious (for its era) integration of media surfaces in urban landscapes.”

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Many of the objects in the show are clever ideas that give silent everyday things a voice. Botanicalls, a gadget designed by a group of students in 2006 while in NYU’s Interactive Telecommunications Program, lets house plants talk to their owners. The device uses moisture sensors in a plant’s soil to send messages that are either tweeted or read allowed on a recording to let its caretaker know when it needs a drink. While Botanicalls is a playful idea, the technology used could be implemented and adapted for a number of situations.

The double entendre category has some of the most playful and fun ideas that allow visitors to interact with the art. Becoming Animal, by Stephen and Theodore Spyropoulos, is a particularly intriguing design that lets you virtually become a dog and interact with the mythical Kerberos, the three-headed gate keeper of the underworld. In the installation, you’ll wear a dog mask made of heavy silkscreened paper and be guided by three actors. Kerberos will respond with real emotions, showing love, hate, and anger through sounds, facial expressions and gestures.

While we can show you images of the designs and explain how they work, the only way you can get the full interactive experience of Talk to Me is to see it for yourself. As the curators write, “Designers are using the whole world to communicate, transforming it into a live stage for an information parkour and enriching our lives with emotion, motion, direction, depth, and freedom.” Talk to Me is an excellent exploration, even experience, of this idea, while at the same time expanding the idea of what a museum exhibition should be.

The exhibit will be on view at MoMA through November 7.

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