If Any Museum Was Going To Go Heavy On Tech, It Would Be MIT’s
October 27, 2022 by Dave Haynes
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) is widely regarded as attracting many of the brightest young minds in the tech sector, so it makes sense that the school’s museum is filled with and driven by screens, interactive features and AI-based software.
Philly-based agency Bluecadet worked with architecture firm Studio Joseph and brand strategy firm Pentagram to produce more than20 interactive moments across 20,000 square feet of exhibition space at the new MIT Museum – “demonstrating active research through interactive, engaging, and playful experiences,” says Bluecadet in an extensive project profile.
The main feature is a wide horizontal video wall – called the Community Wall – that does playful, generative data visualizations of the MIT community and visitors. At input stations near the digital wall, visitors can walk up to a touchscreen and complete a survey, “generating a personal avatar that reflects the fun and quirkiness of MIT. These avatars bounce, play and interact on a large media surface.”
MIT, predictably, has a page online that geeks out on what it calls The Window.
The Window at the MIT Museum, it says, aims to represent MIT, both as individual elements and as a collective. It was designed with input from members of the MIT community, and each of the colorful “elements” cavorting across The Window is an expression of data contributed by a real individual. The result is a dynamic mosaic of the MIT community that grows and evolves as each person adds more data.
Our goal in developing this project was to represent the people and voice of MIT, and to include everyone – students, post-docs, faculty, staff, alumni, and visitors to the MIT Museum coming from near and far. At the same time, we wanted the computation and data processing on the back-end to be as interesting as the beautiful and whimsical visuals on the front-end. After all, this is MIT.
The MIT Museum also has:
- a tall and curved display – guessing OLEDs – that “teaches visitors about AI by inviting them to write poetry in collaboration with a GPT-3 neural network. Bluecadet trained the AI to specifically to write poetry. Visitors can take turns writing lines of a poem with the interactive AI, which will suggest its own contributions based on the user’s input. Once a visitor is happy with the poem, they can add it to the archive, sending it up into the river of poems on the curving displays arcing overhead”;
- interactive tables:
- focused audio stations tied in with projections and lighting;
- what appear to be little video sprites either projected from overhead by those little Epson track light-style projectors, or possibly from pico projectors behind the walls.
Says Bluecadet of the interactive features: “We designed each one to embody MIT’s motto of “Mind & Hand.” MIT’s motto resonates with us at Bluecadet as a reminder that it’s only through the combination of creative thought and practical action that we’ll be able to solve problems and build a better future. The MIT Museum is a way to share the motto – and that mission – with the entire world.”
The project brief has a pile of video-like animations showing the features in action …