Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Turning Cranks and Spinning Wheels

This afternoon I visited the current exhibit called Identity: an Exhibition of You at the California Science Center. As someone who first encountered the museum exhibitions of information representation pioneers Charles and Ray Eames at the old science museum on the same site, I am particularly attentive to how viewer interaction in the museum space is staged by their successors. I was struck by the fact that the exhibition wanted to limit interaction with a keyboard, even when it would be the input device that a viewer would naturally associate with the computer display monitor that was attached to the interface. In one case, in a module about serotonin and stress, the visitor was encouraged to turn a metal crank to stimulate elevated workplace pressure for time on task; in another, a metal wheel was supposed to cue the film of a gestating fetus.

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