Studio: Potion; Role: Interaction Designer; Year: 2016
ARTLENS Exhibition at Cleveland Museum of Art allows visitors to digitally interact with art as never before, dive deeper and get a closer look to the artwork seen throughout the museum.
In the reinvented ARTLENS Exhibition, we want visitors to interact with the foundational principles of what makes art art, and gain a new understanding of their own subjectivity. Instead of creating a digital block in front of art, we want art to sit in front of digital. Instead of a complex interface, we asked ourselves, could visitors meaningfully explore digital representations of artworks by using their bodies, and would that yield a deeper appreciation of the real, physical artworks in the museum? Working with the museum’s cross-collaborative team, we brought together curators, exhibition designers, museum educators, and information technologists to design a new model for digital interpretation built on interactive digital projection.
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The museum team looked at their collection as a whole, from sculpture, to painting, to print and photography, and wanted to equip every visitor to the museum with new ways to look closer at art. Our team developed sixteen interactive games that teach visitors four foundational art history concepts: Composition, Symbols, Purpose, and Gesture + Emotion. In one case, visitors can use their hands to trace out the underlying structures of a painting’s composition. In another, after viewing an ancient sculpture, visitors unlock the meaning of an artist’s use of mythological symbols. A piece of medieval armor hanging in a case may be beautiful by itself, but the opportunity to virtually “wear” it on your own body makes its protective and decorative purpose more clear and impactful. Finally, throughout the museum’s collections, different cultures represent and embody different emotions with different gestures and expressions. Through our interactive experiences, visitors embody these gestures and emotions to gain an understanding and appreciation of artists’ ability to represent the enormous range of human emotions in media from bronze to ink.
Previously in the gallery space known as Gallery One, touchscreens provided engagement, but visitors were not connecting their activity to art elsewhere in the museum. The museum’s evaluation team dug deep to discover why. A key reason being, digital screens are often limited by their scale, especially when representing artworks that are much bigger than the screen itself. Secondly, visitors are mostly prohibited from physically touching artworks in the museum. So, touchscreen experiences feel “stand alone,” and visitors do not necessarily carry over the knowledge from the touchscreen experience to the experience of viewing real art. To address this issue, we chose to create a new relationship between visitors and digital interpretation. By using large-scale digital projection to represent artworks, museum visitors are already placed into a physical relationship similar to their museum visit. Digital projection allows us to not only present very large works of art at scales that approach the original, but also allow us to magnify smaller artworks to larger than life scale, giving access to details that can be easily missed when the artwork is hanging behind glass. In ARTLENS Exhibition, we use scale dynamically to create drama, engage visitors and help influence how they look at art throughout the museum. So they can apply the new tools they have learned. In preliminary evaluations of ARTLENS Exhibition,we see visitors are not only engaged by the digital interpretation, but also are motivated to use what they have learned and seek more experiences with artworks throughout the museum.
Projection necessitated another change: moving from a touch interface to sensing via human gesture and facial recognition. We found that visitors were most engaged when they could see themselves in relationship to the artworks. Consequently, we took a very inclusive approach to engaging visitors, creating many “selfie” moments when visitors could see themselves inside, near, wearing, embodying, and interpreting artworks, paired with the artworks themselves. Visitors’ physical actions in front of digital artworks align with their behavior in real galleries. They stand in front of artworks they are interested in, they point out features, they mimic expressions, they discuss the meanings of symbols, all in a similar context to encountering those artworks in the museum. This tight connection bridges the physical experience of the digital interpretation to their museum experience, so they can apply the new tools they have learned. In preliminary evaluations of ARTLENS Exhibition,we see visitors are not only engaged by the digital interpretation, but also are motivated to use what they have learned and seek more experiences with artworks throughout the museum.
- Potion and Cleveland Museum of Art
- Cleveland Museum of Art
Graphic and Interactive Design
Concept Design & Development
- Fusion Filmworks
Video and Still Creation
- Zenith Systems