Archive for the 'Experience design' Category


It is not unusual that war memorials don’t function as well as they are intended to. Often people just walk past them and ignore them. “Are war memorials to fallen heroes really ignored because people don’t want to honor the fallen? Or because they don’t want to think about the horrors of war?” Probably the last one right? So how do you inspire your audience to want to think of war? That’s the question of today.



Touched Echo


How about this interaction? Touched Echo is a installation for the balustrade on the “Bruehlsche Terrasse” in Dresden. From it you have a view of “Neustadt” which was almost completely destroyed in World War II. By placing their hands over their ears while leaning against the balustrade, vistors will hear bombers flying over their head and explosions of the bombs. The echo of the past (the sound) is transmitted via the forearm to your skull bone, where it enters the inner ear). Interesting.



Website from NEC where people leave messages as tree leaves. A visitor can only enter one message per day in order to enable as wide participation as possible. Up to 500 entries make one tree and after that a new tree appears. The numbers of entries, leaves determine an actual tree planting activate. For every 100 signatures on Ecotonaha NEC planted another tree addition to those planted during the Kangaroo Island project. Last year 2006 they had 107.054 messages and 1.070 trees were planted.

From website:

This whole concept is well thought throw and the website very beautiful. It’s a good example of how a message board can be more and look better then a traditional message board. It is also an example of how the web can be used to encourage visitors to participate in something bigger then just the actual web site.

Go to and leave a message.

Creator of the website seems to be which also has a very interesting website.


Mashed Bagdad Potatoes

There’s just so many ways to play with maps… Three projects I found today work with mashing maps of different cities together, and through that emphazise differences between the places.

youarenothere.jpgBagdad can be toured in Brooklyn in the piece You Are Not Here. By putting the two cities maps on top of eachother, the artists could decide where to put site specific information from the streets of Bagdad on the correlating places in Brooklyn, in form of stickers with access codes and telephone numbers to “the Tourist Hotline”. The information recieved could for instance contain ‘the toppling of the statue of Saddam Hussein and how this might have been a stage event as most of the spectators of it were American soldiers and journalists’. The time it takes to walk all over town, in addition to the information with a different perspective then we get from TV news, can give room for discussion and contemplation.


Next project is called
Bagdad><San Fransisco. Here it’s more about what San Fransisco would look like if they got the same bombs that Bagdad recieved. Would your home be bombed?

cherry.jpgThe last project I found working with entangled city maps is called Cherry Blossoms, and was actually inspired by Bagdad<>San Fransisco. Creator Alyssa Wright brings the bombs of Bagdad back home to the US in her own way; She let’s you put on a backpack filled with confetti and sends you on walk through the streets of Boston. Your backpack can, and will, blow up at any moment. It works like this:

‘Cherry Blossoms is a backpack that uses a small microcontroller and a GPS unit. Recent news of bombings in Iraq are downloaded to the unit every night, and their relative location to the center of the city are superimposed on a map of Boston. If the wearer walks in a space in Boston that’s correlated to a site of violence in Baghdad, the backpack detonates, releasing a compressed air cloud of confetti, looking for all the world like smoke and shrapnel. Each piece of confetti has the name of a civilian who died in a war based on lies.’

I would just love to have a backpack like that…. Here’s another link explaining the project.


A Beautiful Idea



This is an idea that artist Edwin Gardner has about filling all of Beirut’s bullet holes with lights. He explains:

‘All across Beirut you can find walls covered with bullets holes. Reminders of past violence, conflict and war. Moving through the city they are an all too familiar backdrop for any urban scene. This proposal that I called ‘bullet lights’ is reversing the meaning and experience of the ‘bullet hole wallpaper’ at diverse locations in the city. Introducing unexpected poetic moments of beauty. Beauty, ambivalently mixed with the physical testimonies of violence. The project doesn’t want to make a point it just invites people to look at things differently. Seeing things from more than one perspective is the starting point for empathy.’

I think it’s beautiful because it’s tragic and hopeful at the same time. And also that I can read my own meanings into it; like that that the light seems stronger than the bullet holes, which makes me think that the human spirit is strong enough to survive through any war time horror, and shine through the bullet holes long after the war has ended. It tells me: Bullets kill humans, but won’t kill humanity.

I also think it is great because it generates discussions. Not everyone is fond of remembering wartime in this beautiful way… Take a look at its post and comments on the blog UNBUILT. Here’s a part of a comment I fell for, because it talks about how you never feel closer to the human spirit then when you are in a place used to war (which I’ve felt myself in Israel):

‘[…]let me describe the picture i saw and felt: bombed houses, half of the wall missing, somebody fixed it with some concrete, but there is something strange in the picture, there are some flowers, in the window, you can see small children running, and laughing around the building, some lovely music coming from the radio set, an older man spots a couple of us staring in front of his house, comes up to us with a big smile, and let us in his home, four of us, total strangers, i have never felt something so human…’



From “At Memory’s Edge”

“At Memory’s Edge” by James E. Young.
The main question asked in the book is, “How is a Post – Holocaust generation of artists supposed to “remember” events they never experienced directly?” I will take examples of three artists in the book, the way they worked and in one way answered this question.

Shimon Attie
– The Writing on the Wall
“To peel back the wallpaper of today and reveal the history buried underneath.”
Working with hidden memories of Europe’s now-lost Jewish population Attie made photographical installations during 1991-1993 in Berlin. He projected photographs of Jews taken before World War II directly onto houses and locations where they original had been taken. Attie wanted to give the hidden past a voice. With his art he created a reminder of what was lost, not what was. He also documented every installation photographical. These photos have been travelling the world and hanged in many galleries.
Attie’s exhibitions show how important the exhibition location is. By projection pictures of the past onto its original location he reveals the history. He reminds the citizens now living and working around those locations about its history.


David Levinthal
– Mein Kampf
“These toys are my reality.”
Levinthal photographed Hitler figurine from the 30s that he found in an Austrian toy store. His photographs are meant to evoke, not mime, and to stimulate the imagination but not stimulate historical realities, these photographs are shot in a “narrative style”. The more ambiguous, underdetermined, and oblique the image, the more it seems to invite the viewer’s own narrative. The sharper the image, the more repellent it is of multiple readings, for it crowed out the reader’s projected story with the clutter of its own detail. He turns the traditional believes of photographic presentation against itself, extending the range of the camera inward to include the mind’s eye and imagination. Our eyes never rests on objects when looking at his photographs, they stay somewhere in the space between them and us, between us and our imagination. The piece of art has come to exist more in us, the viewers, and less on the wall.


Jochen Gerz (and Esther Shalev–Gerz)
-The Hamburg’s disappearing monument
“In the end, it is only we ourselves who can rise up against injustice.”
In Hamburg 1986 a forty-foot-high, three-foot-square pillar was made of hollow aluminium plated with a thin layer of soft, dark lead. Designed by Jochen Gerz, this was the winning proposal for a “Monument Against Fashism, War and Violence – and for Peace and Human Rights.” Visitors were invited to cover each section with their names when one section was filled the monument was lower into the ground, a chamber as deep as the column was high. This process was going on for seven years and finally 1993 the monument vanished with its last sinking. Nothing is left but the top surface of the monument, now covered with a burial stone inscribed to “Harburg’s Monument Against Fascism.” (The pillar is visible in a glass chamber below.)
During this seven years this monument worked as a social mirror, it became doubly troubling in that it reminded the community of what happened then and, even worse, how they responded now to the memory of this past.


None of this work are online exhibitions but they all contain interesting techniques and key points that we can think of when developing our project.
Attie’s projections show us how important the exhibition locations are for evoking the right effect. But also how a mixture of new techniques and old material can create great effects. Levinthal photographic art tells us a trick of how we involve the viewer if working with pictures. Gerz show us that a monument doesn’t have to be visible forever but it should involve the visitor in order to make it memorable. But also to reflect how today’s society respond to the monument.


Mcluhan’s “Hot and Cool”

digital_mcluhen_2.JPGIn the book “Digital McluhanPaul Levinson gives an introduction to Marshall Mcluhan‘s key ideas and demonstrates how they are still relevant in this digital age. One of the ideas he discusses, which I found interesting, is Macluhan’s “Hot and Cool”:

Hot and cool are temperatures of different media. Hot media are those that are dazzling, instructive, definitive and overpowering. They present complete information, which the reciever cannot add to. They are intoxicating, but in their loudness and brightness, they quickly satiate the viewer’s senses. It’s like they seem to aim at running you over and leaving you senseless. Examples of hot media is the printed book and newspaper, the big screen motion picture, the true-to-life photography and the stereo and radio (though the radio has cooled down since integrating phone calls).

Cool media is understated and fleeting, fast moving and sketchy. Its power lies in intriguing and seducing. You can think of the temperatures in terms of personality aswell: If Elvis was hot, Mick Jagger is (mostly was) cool. If Ronald Reagan was hot, John F. Kennedy was cool. Cool has a feeling of being in synch with the universe and in tune with the future. Cool media is in need of the warmth of our participation, and it invites participation by the uncompleted information it offers. Examples of cool media are poetry, graffiti, most cartoons, television and the telephone. And, of course, the World Wide Web.

The temperature of a medium comes from the degree of intensity of its engagements. Therefore the articulate prose is hot while the abstract poetry is cool. Therefore the clear sound of the stereo is hot while the tin ear sound of the telephone is cool. Soft colors, soft voices, and software are means of coolness to pull forth our participation. Structure is hot though. Rap music is an example of coolness that offers invitation by its minimal and open structure.

In instant messenger services, like Msn Messenger, Skype or Google Talk, participants in conversation only have each other’s written words to know the other’s intentions by. That’s an example of seducing by offering inadequate information. Text on telephone lines is even cooler, more seductive, than speech – it is often addictive precisely because its mode of presentation prevents us from ever getting enough of it.

The web and its hyperlinks is a cool media because you never know the extent of the knowledge. When surfing and searching, not knowing what you will find and finding what you didn’t know that you were looking for gets you inspired. It makes for a good way to learn. Mcluhan thought that “low defenition media like telephone or television are major education instruments because they offer inadequate information.” His hope for television and telephone as teaching tools haven’t been fulfilled, especially in the case of the telephone, but online courses are working better and better as forums for cool “good teaching”.

So. When experience designing our memorial: If we want to design a place were people stay and participate, a place that people can’t get enough of, were they want to stay long enough to be able to start a contemplation process, we should make use of Mcluhan’s theories and seduce the visitors with understated content and inadequate information. What we make shouldn’t be very structured, or use bright colors, loud voices and so on. We should not only ask visitors to participate but also emotionally pull them into participating. But on the other hand, if we want the overwhelming wow-feeling in our web monument, there seems to be two different paths to follow…