Welcome Wednesday 24 April 2013: Mobile Device Distribution

The Youth Insights Talk and Text team at the audio desk in the Museum lobby, Whitney Museum of American Art, 2008.

The Youth Insights Talk and Text team at the audio desk in the Museum lobby, Whitney Museum of American Art, 2008.

This week, Dina Helal joined us from the Whitney to talk about the nearly 20 years’ experience the museum has distributing mobile devices to visitors, and answer questions from the Smithsonian Mobile group. Watch the webcast.

At the Whitney, mobile devices are currently handed out by volunteers. Download the training sheet volunteers get at the Whitney.

Dina also supplied some more information in response to questions raised during our conversation:

A (limited) survey of how many in-house mobile devices various US museums have available for visitors:

  • Guggenheim NY 600-800
  • MoMA Up to 1,000
  • Philadelphia Museum of Art 150-1,000
  • MFA Boston 700
  • Isabel Stewart Gardner 150
  • Art Institute of Chicago 800
  • High Museum 300
  • Milwaukee Art Museum 100-200

The Whitney puts its mobile content online as well as on mobile devices handed out in the museum, and has done some innovative projects with teens and artists. Here’s a sampling:

An audio tour featuring commentary by Youth Insights teens (pictured about) about the artists and art on view at the Whitney. Each YI participant produced a stop for the Whitney’s 2008 Biennial audio guide. Teens could text comments and insights about the audio stops to a temporary number for the duration of the 2008 Biennial exhibition. Their comments were posted on the teen blog, which is still called The Whit… affectionately!

2002 TAP
Artist James Buckhouse (Born in Logan, Utah, 1972, lives in San Francisco), in collaboration with Holly Brubach, dancer Christopher Wheeldon and programmer Scott Snibbe, was commissioned to create this interactive mobile artwork (mobile website, beaming station) by Dia Center for the Arts. (Presentation in cooperation with Creative Time. Technology provided by Palm, Inc. with additional support from hi beam(tm). Stations designed by ORG.)

Tap is a virtual dance school for animated characters that exist on the Internet and can be downloaded to individual users’ Personal Digital Assistants (PDAs) and desktops. Users can choose animated dancers (a male or female) at the Tap website. The dancer takes on a life of its own, practicing, learning from other dancers, and giving recitals. Users do not have to be present during the lessons–the animated characters can be “dropped off” and left to practice for an unlimited time. Dancers can practice at home, as a screen saver on the user’s desktop. Their learned routines can be performed for other users.

These performances take place on individual users’ PDAs. Dances are downloaded from users’ desktops or beaming stations to their PDAs, where they can be performed as well as “beamed” to other PDA users. The dance contains a record of what it took to learn a particular routine. Individual steps from a dance can be incorporated into new dances, and users can encourage their character to continue working with certain moves. Also, two users can let their characters teach each other to dance.

Tap treats digital data not as perfectly reproducible packets of information, but as seeds for new ideas that spread and evolve. As an artwork that relies on exchange, learning processes, and community, Tap becomes a metaphor of networked communication itself. As digital data, tap dance is modular and re-mixable. The similarities between data and the dance routines point to the question of how we think about art through the cultural filter of technology.

Tap could  be seen and beamed to people’s PDAs at locations in NYC including:

  • Dia Center for the Arts, 548 West 22nd St.
  • Whitney Museum of American Art, 945 Madison Ave. at 75th St.
  • Barnes & Noble at Union Square

3 thoughts on “Welcome Wednesday 24 April 2013: Mobile Device Distribution

  1. Pingback: Welcome Wednesday 29 May 2013: Mobile device distribution at the Getty | Smithsonian 2.0

  2. Pingback: Welcome Wednesday 12 June 2013: Dealing with Data & Mobile Devices | Smithsonian 2.0

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