Hybrid Exhibit Environments
When thinking of concepts for my museum exhibit, I knew I wanted to do something concerning the Anthropocene rather than an artist. While an exhibit about an artist would be fun, I wanted to focus on a subject with a deeper meaning. The first thing that came to mind was the Amazon rainforest, and while narrowing down my topic, I settled on environmental activism in Latin America. At first I thought about focusing on the dangerous situation they’re in, as more than half of murders of environmental activists occurs in Latin America, and more than 40% of those murdered are indigenous. However, I think this topic would be very depressing, and so I shifted instead to having a section to honor those killed, and focus more on highlighting the strides environmental activists have made in Latin America.
Today I went to the Carnegie Museums of Art and Natural History, as well as Miller ICA.
After my observations, I’m feeling really inspired! I saw a lot of interesting things today and am excited to explore the options for my exhibit.
I struggled at first with my moodboard because although I had a good idea of what my concept is, I didn’t have a vision of what I wanted it to look like. Because mine is about the Anthropocene (more specifically, environmental activism in Latin America), I knew I wanted green in my palette. I added pictures of Liz Chicaje Churay (bottom left), who won a 2021 Goldman Environmental Award for her efforts to create the Yaguas National Park in Peru, protecting over 2 million acres of the Amazon. In 2020, Nemonte Nenquimo (top right) won the same award for her campaign to protect 500,000 acres of the Amazon and Waorani territory from oil extraction. Her lawsuit set a legal precedent for indigenous rights in Ecuador.
For the interior, I knew I wanted something minimal, simple. I chose the picture in the top left because the materials feel natural, and I edited the picture to have dimmer lighting for a more serious tone. Jess gave me a great suggestion for my typography — to choose something inspired by protest signs. That reminded me of what I had seen in the CMOA the other day, which are the two light gray pictures with black text.
The showcase of botanical plants in the bottom right is from the CMONH. I like the idea of doing something similar in my own exhibit to display the incredible diversity in the Amazon, which over 3 million different species inhabit. It’s also why I included the botanical poster as I decide how I would include this idea.
I’m still thinking about how I’d arrange these things in the space, but I’m pretty satisfied with the last 3 interactions I have. For the history timeline I think I’d put it against the back wall, and the story cards/call to action on the right wall. I’m not sure yet what to put on the left or front walls.
For the story cards being on a reflective surface, I was inspired both by the work I saw at the CMOA (inspired by the idea and wanting to use it) and the Center for Civil and Human Rights (inspired by the reflective surface in use). The story cards would play a video, each about an environmental activist and their achievements.
Hybridization of an environment;
More and more restaurants are embracing a hybrid environment by introducing self-serve kiosks. Fast food is now faster than ever at restaurants like Panera and McDonald’s. This sounds like kiosks would replace cashiers, though at the moment it seems like most people don’t want those jobs in the first place — does this mean we can eliminate a job position that no one enjoys working and nearly everyone does out of necessity? Could this take the burden off of overworked workers, or would this be devastating to people struggling to make minimum wage? In any case, as a customer I love these kiosks. It allows for no human error from a cashier taking my order and I don’t have to interact with a stranger who doesn’t want to be there.
I’ve revised my parti diagram so that there’s a more clear direction of where people should be walking. Some of my peers suggested that the timeline needs to be placed in a way that the visitor begins to read it chronologically from left to right and not approach it from just any place. It was also suggested that instead of having the waterfall kind of hidden that it should instead be placed at the entrance. I’ll also research some sort of climate change/deforestation related fact about the Amazon to use for the waterfall text. This would then be more impactful and really set the tone for the exhibit.
When you enter the museum, you’ll first see the indoor waterfall. The text lights up and reveals itself from behind the water when the visitor approaches. Then, the staff can direct you the right way, and answer any questions. You are lead to the timeline, where it’s most spacious to add some breathing room and space to take in something so heavy and serious. I want to rethink the interaction I have with my timeline or adjust the idea in some way so that not everything is a proximity sensor. Not pictured are the floor lights, around 227 lights (hypothetically) to honor each environmental activist in Latin America who was murdered in 2020. These would light up using a pressure sensor, so they would be activated when you walk over them, trailing behind you.
You then head out of the museum when you come to this screen, displaying different story cards. Each one is about a different activist. When you approach one card, it will play a video about that activist’s achievements and how you can support their campaign. I’d like for this to work with a proximity sensor so that it’s like you’re walking up to that person to engage in the conversation and learn more. Here, the model approaches the first card, so the card zooms in a little while the unactivated cards are grayed out. The footsteps on the floor indicate that you should come closer.
I didn’t think of this earlier, but I’ll have to play around with the speaker/mp3 player littleBits to get something working that would represent my story cards screen.
How is the role of an architect and environments designer different?
I think they’re different in that an architect is thinking more logically, and considering the construction and safety of a building, while an environments designer is thinking more about the spatial design and experience of that place. The architect has a responsibility to the structural integrity of a building, but an environments designer is more creative with the looks.
Rethought my timeline: it went from being about every activist who had been murdered in the past 2 decades to now highlighting the high-profile assassinations of 5 activists. These people are Berta Cáceres, Isidro Baldenegro, Homero Gómez González, Paulo Paulino Guajajara, and Gonzalo Cardona Molina. Now, the pressure-sensitive circle will play a video about the life of that person and what their achievements were. When you step on the circle, it will light up and the light will spread up the line to activate the video. The inactive videos are in grayscale, while activated videos turn to color. An audio dome above would play the sound of the video. The timeline is to honor their memories, while the story cards section is meant to uplift current activists, recognize their achievements, and to encourage others to support their campaigns. The spacing between circles is difficult and the images should be made smaller.
I wasn’t happy with my craftsmanship so I tore everything out of my museum and redid the walls and flooring. I also added a desk, chair, and little laptop for the staff, a curved wall, and a bench. Tomorrow I’ll add the rafters.
What motivates you?
I think for this project I was most motivated by my topic. Picking such a serious issue, especially one close to home, drove me to want to do this subject justice. I’m sad I couldn’t discuss more during the presentation about each activist, or include the stories of more people. Although I didn’t include more people I still enjoyed my research. It’s nice to read about the people currently making a difference, or the people who left an incredible legacy before their passing. It’d be nice if my research could accompany this project in the form of a short essay about my findings.
What distracts you?
I suppose everything distracts me. On the weekends, the stress of my 104 homework distracts me. Working in the studio for a while distracts me because when I get hungry I go into survival mode. But I don’t have a meal plan, and I find it hard to meal prep. When it’s getting late I start getting stressed about walking home in the dark. I like taking breaks. I mostly work in studio because when I get home, all my motivation leaves me. So I enter a paradox where being at studio too late makes me nervous to walk home alone, but I feel the need to complete as much as possible in one go at studio to be productive.
What keeps you engaged?
The work itself keeps me engaged. Having enough crit to know what to improve, what I need to add, what I need to work on. I don’t think I’m good at iterating. I do better when I receive direction of where to go. Otherwise the only time I really generate ideas is in the beginning stages and then I go from there. I don’t pivot much like other students do. Even though “your first ideas are your worst.” I tend to take my first ideas and try to make them better, not scrap them all completely, which I don’t think is a good strategy. As Vicki says, you should learn to “kill your darlings.” But I tend to have few darlings at all.