Technology and relational design theories are radically reconfiguring the museum. How can a museum engage the typical visitor with interaction and information, and make the museum a center of knowledge-building? This assignment asks you to consider new ways to design the traditional museum experience. How are relationships between people and objects structured in the museum? How can these relationships be rethought to provide new meanings and new ways of navigating the museum, new ways of learning about objects, their history, their context, and their cultural significance.
In particular, this project will ask you:
• To think analytically about the experience of museum-going and exhibiting
• To analyse the ways a collection is presented to an audience
• To consider the different ways in which different participants (on-site or remote visitors, museum staff, curators, historians, archivists) can explore an object, and contribute to the history and analysis of an object.
• To consider how technology is changing the museum experience
• To consider how design can shape dynamic exhibitions
• To think how to engage an on-site and remote audience in a particular theme; what kinds of activities and experiences contribute to the theme?
• To use print design, exhibition design and multimedia design to create a rich, site specific exhibition proposal
• To consider how an exhibit can stimulate co-authorship and co-creation.
At top: Diorama series, from Hiroshi Sugimoto. Dioramas were an invention of exhibit designers, thinking of ways to engage visitors in the context surrounding natural history objects
Part (1), Due April 22
Choose one object from the 20th Century collection and research that object
Part (2) Week 2, Due April 29
Sketch of the exhibition ideas, including visual, spatial, acoustic and interactive elements
Part (2) Week 3, Due May 6
Developed exhibition ideas, and draft design proposal. How will you express your ideas? Video? Slides? What visual elements do you need to produce?
Develop one direction for how the RISD Museum can update the concept of “wall text” to a specific or a general audience. What will help communicate what’s interesting about an art object in this era of omnicommunication and technology? What form should your proposal take in order to communicate your idea?
Part (3) Week 4, Due May 13
Final exhibition proposal due.
Present your proposal to the class. PDF of process book due. Actual book due on junior review.
Create a spatial mapping diagram about a space of your choosing within the general boundaries of the Design Center. Your diagram can consider the following questions:
Who has access to the space?
How do people interact with it?
What are the particular characteristics of the space?
When is the space used?
Does a user interact with any objects in the space?
How many people does the space serve?
For how much time do people use the space?
How do times of day change the space’s function?
Focus on one element of the space to map. Some examples of focus are (and not limited to) wifi networks, lighting, sound, usage at times of day, demographics. Investigate what actually happens in a space and then translate that into a visual language.The diagram must convey concrete information about the space. Remember that this is a ground-up, not top-down project.
Your mapping cannot be verbal or a list of words on a page. It is a focused visual analysis of the space and must be a drawing, photo collage, video, visual diagram or typographic layout. The maps themselves are a design product— they visualize an analysis of an observation about your space and about how it is used. Like any good map, they take a point of view about of a space and represent that point of view visually.
You cannot proceed to part 2 of the project without a convincing mapping diagram and understanding of your space.
• To design based on observation of how people use and interact in space;
• To think analytically about a space and represent that space in a visual format;
• To design based on analysis and observation of space;
• To design with site-specificity;
• To create a visual tool (the map/diagram) that serves as a basis for a design.
Professional Context: Exhibition Design, Storefront Design, Window Display, Hoarding Design (construction fences when buildings go up/get renovated), Signage, Wayfinding, Stage Set, Kiosk design, Interactive Displays, Geo-locative Designs (like Foursquare or GrindR)…Essentially, design that exists in a specific space with a set of viewers that encounter it in that space.
Now that you are thoroughly familiar with your space, propose an alteration to the space that modifies the space, or the behaviors of the users that you have observed, based on your mapping. Choose a format that fits with your idea of how and what you want to modify—it may be 2-d graphics, a 3-d installation, a video, or interactive using gps, for example.
For this part of the project you can choose one of three ways of representing your ideas:
1) Install your alteration at your site in the Design Center on class days only, (April 8 & 15). The class will critique it in-place.
2) Install your alteration at your site in the Design Center at any time, and document users in the space interacting (or not) with the design. Present this documentation.
3) Create a proposal for an alteration that could exist in a space in the design center.
For any of these it is important to note that your alteration must respect building codes and standard access. This assignment is not about disrupting everyone’s experience to the point of endangerment, but rather considering how a well-placed design can affect change. Your alteration cannot obstruct the regular functioning of the space.
Revise your mapping diagram and alteration (either in-place or as documentation) for final crit of both designs.
Due March 18
Post your final video to vimeo or YouTube and embed the video into a post on this website. Categorize the video as Ethnographic Film. Write a “page-long” statement for your video and paste the statement in the same post as your video. The statement should make clear your ethnographical method and how it came to be realized in the work.
Also, submit a comment of equal length on the video that your classmate produced about you. Your comment may reflect upon the nature of the collaboration, its statement of you, or comment on the piece and its construction as well.