Tuesday, August 23, 2011

“Talk To Me” (TTM) at MoMA

Source: Talk To Me at MoMA
"Talk to Me: Design and Communication Between People and Objects" is a new exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Talk about digital consumerism, this is a feast for the visitor. It invites viewers to participate in every way, from apps to social media. The exhibition is designed to communicate with it, tweet about it, or capture QR codes on your smart phone for any object on display, thereby reinforcing how the interaction of people and objects pervades our everyday world. It emphasizes the differences in communication by the very nature of how it delivers the information. For example, some things speak, while others communicate in text or graphic interfaces that interact with us in either direct ways or subtly.

Source: The Wilderness Downtown
Some highlights from the exhibition include The Wilderness Downtown. This interactive website works best using Google Chrome. The design of this website allows a user to type in a street address using a drop down menu and click play. The site combines music with a hooded, running figure in a movie type setting that combines with Google maps to pan aerial and street views of that location. At the end, it lets you draw or type a postcard of “advice to the younger you that lived there then.” Fascinating and fun!
Source: TheyRule

Another piece on exhibit is an interactive station called They Rule. This is another website that allows users to create visualizations using interlocking directories of “some of the relationships of the U.S. ruling class” from the boards of the most powerful companies to individuals in corporations and government. Users can save a map of connections with annotations and links to share with others, such as the sample you see here. Hide & Seek also has a spot in the exhibition. It is a game design studio dedicated to inventing new kinds of play. They believe "that play, as a theme, a way of being, and design tool, is integral to understanding how culture will develop in the 21st century." Check out its website for ideas, including the Board Game Remix Kit.

Understanding design and the role of the designer is key to the communication of information in the 21st century and how today’s students interact and learn. Viewing this exhibit and then thinking about how education has not changed much is a bit alarming. We block websites, teach to tests, and barely scratch the surface of Web 2.0 applications, and yet the design of communication continues to change at lightning speed. An underlining theme of the Talk to Me exhibition is that design is no longer static in the classical sense of “form follows function,” and "it is also not enough simply to ascribe meaning.”

Today, design must be dynamic, interactive, animate, and communicate in ways not available a decade ago. It is key as we move through the next century and should be a part of every teacher’s tool kit. We need to integrate it into all types of curricula, and by doing so, we will simultaneously broaden our integration of technology in a seamless way. This exhibit is a clear example of how design is not just considered an aesthetic, but instead it is a process of taking a concept from its formative state to its final outcome. Engaging students to envision an idea and communicate that through design will enable them to develop and create new ways of seeing. Not only can thinking like a designer transform the way children learn, but also it will cultivate their creativity. And, without a doubt, creativity is the underpinning of inspiration, imagination, and innovation.

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