With the Museum of Modern Art's most recent exploration on design opening to the public this weekend, we were excited to get a sneak peek at the nearly 200 artifacts in Talk to Me: Design and the Communication between People and Objects. The exhibition explores the shifting terrain of design: nowadays, designers are not only expected to create form and function in objects but they also must impart meaning. With the aid of recent technological innovations, objects are now expected to interface with users—and "contemporary designers now write the initial scripts that are the foundations for these useful and satisfying conversations."
As Paola Antonelli, Senior Curator, Department of Architecture and Design, explained, one of the inspirations for the exhibition came from her observation of young children, who often make gestural swipes at static objects (such as television screens) with the expectations that they are interactive. A true sign of the times, the exhibition opens with Yann Le Coroller's "Talking Carl," an iPhone and iPad app that literally talks to you, "respond[ing] to sound and touch, gets ticklish and jumpy, and repeats what visitors say in a high-pitched voice."
With speculative objects, kiosks, websites, video games, interfaces, charts and information systems on view, a simple taxonomy wasn't expressive enough for organizing the exhibition. Instead, the idea of "intention" was used to break out the artifacts into four general categories: Objects, I'm Talking to You, Life, City/Worlds and the somewhat mysterious category of Double Entendre.
Objects include physical objects and interfaces that are communicative, reactive and interactive. New York City's MTA Vending Machine was chosen because of its outstanding interface—the machine in the exhibition dispense especially designed MetroCards! I'm Talking to You explores communication between people by means of objects including Curiosity Club alum Zach Lieberman's "Eyewriter." Life displays ways designers search for the "meaning of life in their own empirical and suggestive ways; two of our faves are Soner Ozenc's "El Sajjadah," a prayer mat that lights up when positioned to face Mecca and Goldsmiths University London's "The Prayer Companion," a T-shaped ticker that gives cloistered nuns real-time news of world issues that could benefit from prayers. City/World points out that "the city relies on communication for its own sheer survival" in everything from a real-time game using your Oystercard to the website BBC Dimensions, which utilizes area codes for historical and news-related facts. Double Entendre gives us a peek into the future and the possibility of objects to communicate understanding of the Other. Braille Rubik's Cubes, a garter that simulates menstruation cramps and a speculative camera that explores the many-worlds theory are just a few of the objects on display.
Best of all, each object has a dedicated hashtag and QR code linking your digital device to the MoMA site for bookmarking and further exploration. You can join in on the conversation on the website and through Twitter: @TalktoMe2011.
View the full gallery here!
Talk to Me: Design and the Communication between People and Objects
Museum of Modern Art
New York City
July 24 - November 7, 2011