UX Files: Art Meets UX

What do fine art, user-centered design, and digital experiences have in common? Turns out more and more, every day!

The Art Gallery of Ontario curates extensive digital experiences for its featured exhibits, most recently a fully responsive website of Alex Colville’s life and work. For the recent Henry Moore and Francis Bacon exhibit, the AGO provided a free-to-download audio guide within its native app. It might not be augmented reality, but this targeted extension of the gallery into my mobile phone definitely made for an engaging experience.

Particularly intriguing is the Scopify app developed for the Royal Ontario Museum to infuse a visit with interactivity and dynamic exploration. It also offers the opportunity to see and engage with facets of history and science that were not possible when the exhibits were first created.

Galleries and cultural institution spaces are becoming host to design thinking and collaboration. The Tate Modern hosted a design hackathon that resulted in some pretty incredible hybrids between high art and technology (including a storytelling app with an Ai WeiWei data feed).

Students from the Parsons New School for Design collaborated with the Metropolitan Museum of Art to design a museum wayfinding tool. They created and tested a paper prototype of an app that addresses wayfinding, navigation, and museum accessibility. This app serves to empower visitors to curate their own art gallery experience.

American artist Tamiko Thiel is launching an exhibition that lets visitors perceive the world as an individual suffering from a rare eye disorder, using augmented reality. She leverages technology to explore themes of vision and perspective. Digital art is often so immersive and viewer-centric; this series by Daniel Rozin certainly fits the bill. These incredible installations bring together arrays of mechanical objects and custom software to record and reflect all of the viewer’s movements, making the viewer an active participant and an output of the sculpture.

The more technologically proficient and advanced we become, it is encouraging to see that we still put people at the center of our exploration. This face projection mapping experiment couldn’t make that human focus clearer.