Sixteen students from the School of Visual Arts roamed this weekend's Wanted Design show with interactive "interventions," inviting attendees to see the works on display in new ways. Each station was equipped with tools that allow for a new way of seeing the design show, including a high-powered microscope, a mirrored telescope and a collection of Viewmasters. Identifiable by its white and fluorescent orange trim, the project is called ALSO!
The students are the inaugural class of the School of Visual Art's Products of Design MFA program. They had about seven weeks to imagine, design and build the ALSO! project. Sinclair Smith, who is part of the faculty of the program, says that the goal of the project is to move design exhibition beyond the pedestal, and to "enhance visitors' appreciation of designed objects through new learning behaviors."
The project borrows the concept of "hacking" from the world of programming. The six stations capture the spirit of hacking both through an irreverence for traditional design display and by allowing the visitors to participate and create their experience of the show.
For example, BOOM features a backpack listening apparatus attached to a microphone on a boom pole. The student wearing the pack allows visitors to listen to the objects being presented at the show, adding an auditory element to a primarily visual experience.
Similarly, TINY is a high-powered portable microscope that visitors can use to magnify any surface, and see it on a hand-held screen. Suddenly, invisible details of an object's design are made visible.
WARP is designed to let visitors see "the show through a kaleidoscope composition." The rolling kaleidoscope is particularly attractive to smartphone photographers who want to capture this new perspective.
LIFT also creates a way for smartphones to be used to see the show. A pulley takes phones for ride to the ceiling while recording a video, giving users an aerial view.
HERE is a stationary exhibit, with a collection of Viewmasters. The retro toys are loaded up with images of the venue, Terminal Shops on 11th Avenue. The pictures highlight details of the space that otherwise might not be noticed during Wanted Design.
The boldest intervention is MASK, a rolling cart fitted with a giant hole punch. The station turns the paper handouts and ephemera from other vendors into masks by punching out eye-holes. The students hadn't heard any complaints about the holes when we spoke to them at the show's Friday opening.