GLAMi nomination: Facing the Future

nominated by: Corey Timpson, Corey Timpson Design Inc., Canada
institution: Canadian Museum for Human Rights
category: Groundbreaking

The Rights of Passage: Canada at 150 exhibition examines 150 years of Canada’s human rights history. It does so by exploring the key debates and issues that have been central to the evolution of the Canadian conversation on rights and freedoms, justice and equality. These debates, issues, stories, and movements are organized through the eras, represented as 5 distinct zones within the exhibition.

Zone 1 –  1867-1914: Foundations and Dislocations (wood; printing press, magic lantern)
Zone 2 – 1915-1960: Transformations and Interventions (steel; radio)
Zone 3 – 1960-1982: Towards the Charter (plastic; television)
Zone 4 – 1982-Present: Human Rights in a Contemporary Canada (light – where medium and material converge)
Zone 5 – Past and Present: Defending Sovereignty (intangibility; oral traditions)

In each of these zones the environment is designed and built to emote the era with an emphasis on the material and the natural interface is often used to move the experience design from passive (read, watch) to active (perform a function) and eventually interactive (cause and effect, reciprocity), all the while contributing to immersion.

Submitted for your consideration is the Facing the Future section located in Zone 4 of the exhibition. The presentation within this augmented spaces that includes user-contributed content, gesture based interaction, music, wearable technology and virtual artefacts(holograms).

Hashtag hotspots are used as natural interfaces in the exhibition. This is given there is no tangible interface, only position-based interaction. As a visitor steps into one of the 3 designated spotlit areas the environment around them responds to this action.

Stepping in to a hotspot invokes a hashtag and effects change across the environment.

By creating a pedestrian interface, we do not require the visitor to use a personal device to engage, while still reinforcing the metaphor of the environment reacting to a relational network. The visitor can be present within the experience and still understand its implications in the way we use personalized technology.

For the digital experience in Human Rights in Contemporary Canada’s we wanted to capture the imagination of the visitor. Creating an environment, multimodal in nature, that responded to a single input. The three hashtags projected on the floor are #reconciliation, #equality, and #environment.

Activating one of the hashtags precipitates the following outcomes, for example – stepping on the #environment hashtag:

The ribbon of light circling the hashtag sweeps across the floor to the dress, turning from white to green as it sweeps, which in turn changes to the colour of the dress green. The other hashtags on the floor disappear temporarily. The ribbons of light within the walls glow green along with the display case housing the watches.The smart watches display notifications (1 English, 1 French) of a ‘march for science’ near you. The hologram display lights up with a floating image of a bee colony buzzing within the artefact case. A short musical clip of a pop song related to respect for the environment plays from a directional speaker. On the faceted wall above the dress, a cascade of projected images from Instagram users, leveraging the same hashtag appear. The dress’ green colour shimmers and waves emoting the feel of aurora borealis.

The focal point of Zone 4’s Facing the Future installation is the interactive dress that responds to the hashtag hotspots. With Apple Watches and Fitbits, wearable technology is already in the mainstream. The Facing the Future dress intends to help the visitor playfully imagine how wearables may evolve in using fashion and technology to communicate how we feel, sense our surroundings, or speak up on behalf of something.  Clearly, fashion has had the capability of accomplishing these things, but how could technology enhance this? Using open-source hardware, there is also a subtext of the importance for free and open access to sensing and communicating the world around us.

Dress, watches, fitbit, projections, 3D virtual artefact, music, and lighting respond
Facing the Future – Responsive Environment: Environment Theme

Extending the boundaries of progressive storytelling and education, placing the visitor at the center of a unique shared experience that is both physical and virtual in nature. Exhibition design is increasingly under the obligation to create hybrid spaces that merge the real and the virtual. While a museum visit is a primarily real-life experience, the opportunities and drawbacks of new technology are creating seismic changes in how museums balance storytelling, scholarship, collection of physical objects, digitization, and enabling engagement in both physical and digital environments. The Facing the Future exhibition component seeks to draw attention to the locus of innovation in relationships between computer vision, virtual artefacts, the internet of things, the way we communicate concepts inside and outside the museum.

Corey Timpson (Project Director/Authority);
Rob Vincent (Design Director);
Scott Gillam (Digital Media Director);
Paul Legris (Exhibition Designer);
Jeffrey Taniguchi (Graphic Designer);
Benjamin Bergman (Software Developer);
Aaron Cohen (Video producer);
Nik Heine (Lighting Technician);
Brian Marsh (Technology Lead);
Brodie Sanderson (Project Manager);
Jodi Giesbrecht (Curator, Content Lead);
Helen Delacretaz (Exhibition Director);
Kathleen Wiens (Exhibition Developer);
Liz Neely (Artist);
Jessica Sigurdson (Production Artist)

Dress, watches, fitbit, projections, 3D virtual artefact, music, and lighting respond
Facing the Future – Responsive Environment: Equality Theme
Dress, watches, fitbit, projections, 3D virtual artefact, music, and lighting respond
Facing the Future – Responsive Environment: Reconciliation Theme
Facing the Future: Responsive Environment. Equality Theme
Facing the Future: Responsive Environment. Equality Theme