Visitor Experience Visualized

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Video: Response from the iConfessional at Mattress Factory

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Image: Kit Galloway and Sherrie Rabinowitz, Hole-In-Space, 1980

Mattress Factory went live with their iConfessional kiosk recently, which allows visitors to instantly post response videos to museum exhibitions using YouTube's Quick Capture feature. Mattress Factory's Jeffrey Inscho got the idea from the Brooklyn Museum, who built a video response station for their exhibition The Black List Project using the same technology. Both illustrate ways museums are attempting to use the web to enhance visitor experience; as the lowercase "i", Apple's signature branding for personal customization, they are geared towards allowing visitors to visualize and share their responses to the exhibition, i.e. leave their personal mark. Simple and inexpensive to implement, it's not difficult to imagine that stations like these will become more commonplace. I viewed an installation of Kit Galloway and Sherrie Rabinowitz's Hole-In-Space (1980) at the "Art of Participation" exhibition at SFMOMA two weeks ago and I was both amused and blown away by the footage. In the work, crowds in New York City and LA could video conference with one another via this public installation. The crowds were clearly elated about this possibility, hooting and hollering at live feeds of their counterparts on the other side of the country. It was amazing to see their excitement, especially now that video conferencing has become so ubiquitous. This activity hits at the heart of participation online -- but it also raises questions in regards to the limits of this sort of participation, especially if it is realized in the form of talk back mechanisms, such as video kiosks, which are simply an addendum to a larger exhibition, and do not influence its scope or shape.