Tate Modern teams with Bloomberg on a pioneering digital arts project that creates a new kind of customer experience in the museum. See projects like this at Xlab 2014 November 6 in New York!
For today’s museum-goers, just looking at art or artifacts or reading exhibit graphics isn’t enough. They are looking to explore, engage, and DO. And they want to share what they’ve seen and done. Recognizing that it could use new technologies to connect visitors with its collections, Tate Modern partnered with Bloomberg and commissioned Jason Bruges Studio (London) to design a series of interventions that create a new kind of customer experience in the museum.
Bloomberg Connects is a pioneering new digital arts project that marries cutting-edge technology with the museum’s current collections. It invites visitors to exchange ideas, images, and experiences, interpret works of art, and interact with artists, the museum, and each other, using the digital space as a canvas for creativity and conversation. It empowers visitors to become commentators, critics, contributes, and co-creators.
“Tate wanted to increase engagement and create a technical interface between the visitor, devices, and social media, and capture these conversations,” says Jason Bruges.
So Bruges’ design team built a series of site-specific devices around the circulation spaces of the gallery. With these devices, people can take selfies, create digital drawings, communicate with artists, and talk to each other. A total of 75 screens, over half cascading down the valley of the central staircase, display visitors’ ideas and comments. A digital drawing bar allows people to respond visually to their visit and see large-scale versions of their artworks projected on the wall.
The installations are spatially aware, and use body-tracking technology to respond to and attract visitors who are nearby. The design team up-cycled and reconfigured pre-used monitors and terminal screens, donated by Bloomberg, and retrofitted the hardware with credit card-sized Raspberry Pi computers.
“This was a nice twist, breathing new life into old technology that would otherwise have been recycled,” says Bruges. “We added new interfaces and enabled them with Kinect and cameras so they can sense, for example, how many people are looking at the screen and change content accordingly. These are relatively complex objects that can undertake quite a few tasks simultaneously.” See the Videohere.
Integrating the devices architecturally was a key factor in the project, ensuring that these new additions to the museum would sync visually and not appeared “pasted on,” says Bruges. Many of the screens cascade down the Tate’s central stairway and others are mounted on walls and structural elements, with display frames painted wall colors so they recede and integrate with the environment.
Tate is happy with the results. “We selected Jason Bruges Studio because of their strong track record in designing beautiful and innovative interactive technology for public settings,” says Jane Burton, Creative Director at Tate Media. “They’ve delivered on all fronts. I love their clever use of up-cycled hardware and their elegant design solution for the graphic interface is just what we were looking for.”
Read our interview with Jason Bruges.
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Client: Tate Modern, Bloomberg
Program Design: Jason Bruges Studio
Consultants: Studio Blackburn (graphic interface design), The Workers (custom coding)
Photos: Lee Funnell/Studio Blackburn