Creating a hybrid museum environment to enrich educational experiences.
I designed a pop up exhibition for Alex Da Corte, an artist exhibiting at the 57th Carnegie International, for installation at the Miller ICA gallery. My 3 part experience features Da Corte’s Rubber Pencil Devil (2018), a neon house filled with video reinterpretations of American pop culture references, and aims to demystify the niche cultural icons alluded to in the installation for greater conceptual understanding of the piece.
Part 1: Introduce
When viewers first enter the exhibition space, they collect an RFID token from the front desk. Viewers also have the chance to read about the artwork on display, and learn about the artist’s background.
Part 2: Explore
Visitors are invited to explore the installation by stepping into the neon house and watching the video reel of American pop culture reference interpretations. When viewers enter and exit the house, an RFID scanner in the doorway keeps track the videos that were playing for the duration that visitors were in the house.
Part 3: Demystify
Inspired by Da Corte’s interest in pop culture, consumerism and nostalgia, I created a digital intervention that is reminiscent of an arcade game. After viewers insert their token into the left wall slot, a custom explorer interface allows them to read about Da Corte’s reinterpretations, and watch the original video references.
Ticket stubs for the corresponding references print from the right wall slot. Viewers can take the tickets home and continue exploring the digital archive by scanning the QR code on each ticket.
Alex Da Corte is a Philadelphia based artist best known for his sculpture and installation work. Da Corte explores a multitude of themes such as mythology, consumerism and nostalgia, working to dissect American cultural icons of the immediate past.
Rubber Pencil Devil is a neon house filled with cartoons. Within the house, 57 videos are on loop, all of which feature reinterpretations of notable American cultural icons. Da Corte invites his viewers to look up the references after watching the videos to demystify his interpretations, and consider the significance of the featured icons.
You can read about my in depth process documentation here.
As I was viewing Rubber Pencil Devil, the descriptor that I thought best described the installation was 'All American.' After talking to exhibition goers, I noticed that several visitors, especially those who were not native to the U.S., did not recognize the original references that Da Corte was reinterpreting and thus found it difficult to consider his critique. As such, I wanted to create an interaction that was inclusive of visitors with different cultural backgrounds, to better facilitate their understanding and appreciation of the piece.
Redefined Problem Statement
How can I create an interactive museum space to facilitate greater cultural understanding of Da Corte’s piece, and realise his full artistic intention?
Process and Ideation
I began by brainstorming and storyboarding ideas for potential features to incorporate into my pop up exhibit. My biggest challenge during this stage was designing a 'Learn More' section for the exhibit that would facilitate hands on learning tailored to each individual’s experience with the installation.
One question I considered thoroughly was whether the ‘Learn More’ experience should be individual or communal. While I believed that opportunities for discussion would allow visitors to more easily dissect Da Corte’s interpretations, a communal experience might not make sense as not everyone would have watched the same references depending on when they were in the house.