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VIDEO: Inhabitat Interviews MoMA Curator Paola Antonelli About ‘Talk to Me’
Posted By Jill Fehrenbacher On September 1, 2011 @ 3:43 pm In Art NYC,Museums,Product Design,Video | 8 Comments
The Museum of Modern Art’s  latest Talk to Me exhibition  puts technology in the hot seat. The exhibition , put together by MoMA design curator Paola Antonelli , showcases cutting edge ‘interaction design’ with its diverse collection of machine-user interfaces, software and gadgets. The featured pieces range far and wide, from self-service JetBlue ticket kiosks  to iPad app virtual cartoon characters  to an adorable real-life cardboard robot . Antonelli joined MoMA’s staff as the Senior Curator in the Architecture and Design Department  in 1994, curating a number of the museum’s groundbreaking exhibitions in furniture and design. Her method of treating design as art was the subject of her 2007 TED Talk , and we were recently given an extra dose of her insight as Antonelli treated us to a personal tour of Talk to Me . Watch the video above as Antonelli and our Editor-in-Chief, Jill Fehrenbacher , walk through the exhibit, discussing the role of technology in our day-to-day lives and its impact on social interaction and human society.
Paola Antonelli: All the exhibitions about contemporary design  tend to be inspired by what’s happening in the world. And today one of the issues that seem to be really important to us is how we communicate not only between and amongst ourselves, but also with objects . We always had a rapport with objects throughout history, sentimental maybe or even just functional. But right now because of the digital revolution  we expect objects to actually have some sort of communication that’s explicit with us.
The Tweenbot  is one of the mascots of the exhibition because it really represents how people react to objects. It was designed by Kacie Kinzer . Kacie would take the little robot, wind it up, leave it in the middle of Washington Square and just film what people were doing . They would go crazy just helping the little robot , talking to it. It would get stuck and they would unstick it.
This that you see here, which is quite a beautiful artifact, it’s called Artificial Biological Clock . It hinges on an issue that we all know very well, which is being women today and having the career, deciding whether to have children, and thinking that it’s never the right moment. This clock  is connected to the fertility cycles, but it’s also connected to your banker, your gynecologist, and your therapist. When everything aligns, it just gives you this alert saying ‘now or never.’ It makes you smile, but at the same time, it’s very serious. So much of critical design  is about getting people to think. It’s not about problem solving anymore, which is the old cliché about design, but it’s rather about designing problems and about giving you questions to think of.
Paola Antonelli: I’m not. The funny thing is that that same argument was heard also at the beginning of the 20th century with the introduction of the telephone . Every time there’s a so called “disruptive innovation ” people are worried and rightly so. There’s consequences to a change in behavior and being able to always be in connection. But at the same time, you need to stimulate good design.
And good design is not only pretty objects, it’s good behavior, it’s a better balance between technology and human beings. Every time there’s an innovation, it’s called disruptive for a reason because it creates a problem. It creates a rupture, it creates a break in both an individual routine and in the way people have interacted with each other for centuries. So design can help this disruption become part of life, integrated into life faster and better. That’s what we like to think of designers as – as the people that make revolutions  become life.
Paola Antonelli: We have been living in more than one world for quite a while. Design has not been only our furniture  or our cars, but also it’s been the interfaces of the websites that we live in, the interface of our email program. What’s happening right now is that the virtual world is only one of the possible extensions of traditional design. A formal design that is relatively new – it’s old but new – is critical design. Critical design  is about commenting on the possible consequences of technology , even dystopian ones. And there’s a lot of examples of that in the exhibition  because since these designers focus on crucial issues, they also focus a lot on communication.
All in all, I think that what we’re seeing today is designers becoming much more economical and sustainable – also about their own careers. It’s not possible anymore to build objects  that people will throw away in just a short amount of time, because people think that one of the possible ways to be sustainable is to have a washing machine  that lasts 15 years instead of three. So that’s one way to go. What happens there is that it means fewer appliances and fewer design opportunities for traditional forms of design. But there’s a whole world that is on the web. It’s a whole world that is about behaviors. There’s a whole world that is about interactions. There is this amazing infiltration of design in all the facets of our lives that goes well beyond the traditional furniture  products and cars . I’m so happy about it because, as you’ve said, this is truly the moment to not only study, but also validate this form of design and give it some benchmarks by doing collective shows like this.
Video by Phelps Harmon
Article printed from Inhabitat New York City: http://inhabitat.com/nyc
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 Image: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8zlPqB-onTc
 Museum of Modern Art’s: http://inhabitat.com/nyc/listing/museum-of-modern-art/
 Talk to Me exhibition: http://inhabitat.com/nyc/talk-to-me-exhibit-at-moma-examines-communication-bewteen-people-objects/
 The exhibition: http://moma.org/interactives/exhibitions/2011/talktome/
 Paola Antonelli: http://www.moma.org/explore/inside_out/author/pantonelli
 self-service JetBlue ticket kiosks: http://www.antennadesign.com/Transit/1-self-service-check-in-kiosk?scrollbar=0
 iPad app virtual cartoon characters: http://moma.org/interactives/exhibitions/2011/talktome/objects/145472/
 real-life cardboard robot: http://moma.org/interactives/exhibitions/2011/talktome/objects/146369/
 Architecture and Design Department: http://www.moma.org/explore/collection/architecture_design
 her 2007 TED Talk: http://www.ted.com/speakers/paola_antonelli.html
 Talk to Me: http://inhabitat.com/nyc/innovative-designs-in-momas-talk-to-me-explore-how-objects-speak-to-us/
 Jill Fehrenbacher: http://inhabitat.com/author/jill/
 objects: http://www.inhabitat.com/products
 digital revolution: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digital_Revolution
 Kacie Kinzer: http://kaciekinzer.com/
 film what people were doing: http://www.tweenbots.com/
 Artificial Biological Clock: http://www.revitalcohen.com/project/artificial-biological-clock/
 clock: http://inhabitat.com/365-knitting-clock-tells-the-time-by-spotted-at-milan-salone-satellite/
 critical design: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Critical_design
 telephone: http://inhabitat.com/samsung-releases-solar-powered-phone/
 disruptive innovation: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Disruptive_technology#Examples_of_disruptive_innovations
 technology : http://www.inhabitat.com/technology
 people that make revolutions: http://inhabitat.com/13-year-old-makes-solar-power-breakthrough-by-harnessing-the-fibonacci-sequence/2/
 furniture: http://inhabitat.com/furniture/
 the exhibition: http://moma.org/interactives/exhibitions/2011/talktome/objects/
 build objects: http://inhabitat.com/from-oil-tanks-to-lace-artist-cal-lane/
 washing machine: http://inhabitat.com/shine-electroluxs-tiny-washing-machine-concept/
 cars: http://www.inhabitat.com/automotive
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