Interactive Books on Paul Gauguin

Merit Award 2016

The Fondation Beyeler is a Swiss museum of modern art that ranks as one of the finest in the world. It addresses a diverse public and aims in particular to fire the enthusiasm of young people for art through its exhibitions.

A first in its history, the museum integrated a multimedia room into its exhibition Paul Gaugin.  The room was designed to enhance the impact of the exhibition by offering educational content about the artist and his work to a diverse audience in three languages.

Based on this brief, iart created six interactive books to form the magical center of the multimedia room. With a unique combination of physical and virtual elements, they provided a playful approach to the life and work of Paul Gauguin. Each page unfolded anew before the eyes of the visitors, with the printed parts of the pages supplemented by projected content, thus permitting interactive elements and moments of surprise in the form of animations with sound.

The 60x42cm (approximately 24 by 16 in.) books, made from Tyvek, are filmed from above by infrared cameras that see the printed portions of the page. Based on these images, a software program recognizes the page that is currently open and related content and animations are projected onto the page. Sensors placed within the base of the book react to touch, allowing users to interact with the content. Speakers in the base of the books also contribute sound effects to the experience.  

For example, an animated ship actually moved into the harbor and when touched, sketches turned into the painting based on them. Quotations in English, German and French supplemented the themes of the paintings and could be opened and closed.

This analog/digital merger on the pages of the books resulted in a magical experience that fascinated museum visitors of all ages and offered new possibilities in art education. The exhibition Paul Gauguin was shown at the Fondation Beyeler from February through June 2015. With almost 370,000 visitors, it attracted more people than any other show in the museum’s history.

Jury Comments: 

"A delightful celebration of the book form in print and digital media that beautifully interacts with the exhibition as a whole."

Design Firm: 

iart ag

Client: 

Fondation Beyeler

Project Area: 

135m2

Open Date: 

February 2015

Project Budget: 

$250,000

Photo Credits: 

Mark Niedermann

Design Team: 

Valentin Spiess (creative director); Mathis Meyer (project manager); Marius Hügli (media designer); Anna Pfeiffer (content developer); Markus Ebbighausen, Marcel Colomb (software engineers); Jan Trauzold (technical planner); Thomas Jochum (system engineer)

Consultants: 

Idee und Klang (sound design)

Fabricator: 

iart ag (book production), Schreinerei Volker Bäuchle (platform construction), Engineering Zumbrunn (projector rack), Phoenix Mecano (projector and mirror construction), Creaplot (Tyvek paper for book pages)

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