Talking Carl cheerfully greets visitors to New York’s Museum of Modern Art’s “Talk to Me” exhibit.
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The iPad app, projected on the wall, repeats visitors’ sounds in a falsetto voice, and allows them to poke and prod the character.
The crowds then move into the exhibition showing the various ways things talk and communicate to humans.
This prayer rug lights up when it’s turned in the direction of Mecca.
And a novel take on the food pyramid shows the hierarchy of digital distractions with any kind of actual work being at the bottom.
Another aspect of the show? Citizen filmography.
In “My Block NYC,” videos shot on specific blocks in New York City have been uploaded and can be viewed using a touchscreen map. It’s a favorite of the show’s senior curator, Paola Antonelli:
“Designers today cannot just give form and function to objects, they also have to be script writers. They have to start conversations.”
This exhibit is called “Hide and See” because it hides information in plain sight. You call the number listed on the exhibit on your phone and when the call is missed it appears as a blemish on the woman’s face.
Through the show, visitors are encouraged to notice how much of our communication is not only through, but also with, objects.
“Of course we all know about the various cell phones and other smartphones and objects that we use to communicate normally, but we can have communications that are even mediated by other types of objects.”
That can include toys.
Mr. Smilit is a digital pet that reacts to crying children with a cry of its own, encouraging children to stop crying and care for it.
And Tengu are interactive toys that plug into computers and react to sounds with their eyes and mouth, like speaking when they hear someone speak.
That’s just another example of how seamlessly objects communicate and become an integrated part of life.
“Talk to Me” runs through November 7.
Bottom line: The new exhibit “Talk to Me” at New York’s Museum of Modern Art highlights ways objects and technology have become an integral part of communication.