I’ve not been allowed to talk about this before, but it has just been nominated for an award, so I guess it’s all pretty public now. This was one of the last projects I was involved in at de-construct – a filtered art experience for Amstel.
Visitors would arrive at the gallery space, and be given a personal identity card – which they would take around the exhibit. The first port of call is to a booth where you are asked a series of questions, following the pattern of a multiple choice quiz. The aim of the quiz is to get an idea of your psychological makeup, and see where you sit in one of the three Hans Eysnick scales of neuroticism, psychoticism and extrovertism.
Once profiled, you would enter the gallery where we had about eight different spaces for watching short films and video art. You would arrive at once of the viewing areas (a mix of large cinema spaces, tiny shower like audio showers or plasmas screens with headphones), swipe your identity card, and you would be presented with content to sort your temperament (or to get your N, E or P juices really flowing).
We originally built a three screen prototype for demoing to our clients Amstel and 180 (their advertising agency) and then the project culminated in a 200 person event in Amsterdam in the basement of the old Post Office building. The private party was a resounding success, and many of the artists who were also invited found the experience extremely enjoyable. The viewers/interactors in the space found themselves discussing with the person next to them why they’d been shown a particular piece of content, swap cards to see other people’s content, generally discuss and chat over the art – which for any gallery experience is a huge measure of success.
Technically, the system was completely bespoke. Based upon RFID and wireless technology, we created a local network which allowed each unit to communicate to a central database server. Upon profiling, each user was stored and could be referenced upon demand. The swipe at each unit would check the person’s ‘profile’, and display relevant content as required. I was involved from the outset, helping to expand upon the original idea, taking it from a concept to delivery – developing the underlying code for the system itself, as well as the hardware, working with the curator to ensure the experience felt right from a content perspective, and installed and setup the space alongside the production team. It was a solid three days of work once we arrived in Amsterdam to setup the machines (most of which were completely smashed up in transit from London) install the software/hardware, test and the deploy in the live space, not to mention the inevitable problems which plagued us right up until the 11th hour.
I was really proud of this project, especially how deeply involved I was from the outset to completion. It was great working with a very talented team on a unique concept. I’m in the video somewhere, turning on a computer. A prize for spotting me.