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Design and the Elastic Mind

Written on May 18, 2008

I blogged about this exhibit when it was upcoming and hadn’t yet opened. I finally managed to see it on the second last day, just before it ended. Yeah, I’ve been working a lot.

The actual exhibition was decent, with a few works standing out from the rest. I thought that the whole thing lacked identity which was disappointing. There were a couple of problems with space, it felt like we were in a storage closet or some other place that they’d had to create to accommodate the event. And of course the last-minute-crowds didn’t help at all. The other point I’ll make is that the exhibition offered very little that would encourage anyone to come and visit the Museum. Almost all of the works featured have their own dedicated websites and the material shown was the same on the website as in the exhibition. But any way, onto the work.

FRONT’s Sketch Furniture was a highlight. I have actually blogged about them in one of my first blog posts, but this was the first time I’d seen the furniture in person. I was struck by how much the furniture looked like it could be functional as well, which was a surprise, I wanted to sit on it. Check out their website for more.

Sketch Front Furniture

Graffiti Research Lab’s L.A.S.E.R Tag was there, but unfortunately it was just the video and nothing that we could actually play with. The Troika SMS Guerilla Projector was there right next to GRL however we weren’t allowed to play with it either. The Painstation and Bitfall were also present and were also similarly switched off with only documented material on display.

The New York Talk Exchange from Senseable Laboratories was a highlight. It’s a visualisation of the connections of both voice and data made by New Yorkers with the rest of the world. It was impressive to see so much data represented so fluidly and in such an easy to understand form.

Similar to the work from Sensable Laboratories and in the field of data visualisation was Cabspotting from Stamen Design a beautiful work that tracks the Cabs in San Francisco’s bay area. Another was the Million Dollar Blocks Project by the Spatial Information Design Lab which dealt with a massive amount of different data sets all to do with the US Prisons and highlighted the disparities and contradictions of the system. Also in data visualisation, but with more of an appeal to emotion than is usual in this area was I Want You To Want Me by Jonathan Harris & Sep Kamvar If you go here, you can watch a video explaining it’s applications in the dating world.

A cab being tracked in Cabspotting:

Cabspotting

Admissions to prisons from Brooklyn by the Spatial Information Design Lab:
Million Dollar Blocks Project Prison Admissions

I Want You To Want Me:
Hurt me and die want you to want me

Dimitri Taylor worked well with Processing to create a program that looked for conversational language on the web based on a search query and generated visualised social landscapes from its finds.

Dimitri Taylor Hypothetical Drawings End World

Dimitri Taylor Hypothetical Drawings End World Detail

At the opening/exit to the exhibit we had Simon Heijdens’s Lightweeds greeting us. And although the photograph below is pretty poor, and the documentation on his website isn’t very good, I thought it was one of the highlights of the exhibit.

Simon Heijdens Lightweeds

and of course, the exhibition website is fantastic.

All in all, it’s something that I would recommend, but maybe if you can manage it, go on a thrusday evening when admission is free (that is, if it hadn’t already closed last week… I have to get some more free time).

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