NY exhibit showcases devices to help people interact

Tue Oct 25, 2011 5:03pm EDT
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By Andrea Burzynski

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Graffiti equipment for paralyzed artists and bacteria that diagnose human illnesses are just two pieces in a museum exhibit about devices that help people interact with one another and the world.

"Talk to Me: Design and the Communication between People and Objects" at the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) includes pieces designed to appeal to both casual museum goers and design aficionados.

"There are people who are wandering through on their way to see another exhibit, and don't realize what the show is about, and often get really excited," said Kate Carmody, a co-curator of the exhibit with Paola Antonelli.

"We've also had a lot of app designers, theme designers, people who usually aren't represented in museum shows who come here ready to participate on that level."

Many pieces in the exhibit which runs through November 7 serve a practical purpose, such as the hard drive that stands up when it senses liquid. Others offer a means for people to communicate with their bodies.

EyeWriter was designed to allow a paralyzed graffiti artist to paint using eye movements, and scientists at Cambridge University in England have developed bacteria that identify illnesses by turning bodily waste different colors.

Even age-old religious practices are included in some of the designs. The Prayer Companion scrolls world news on a ticker tape so nuns can pray for the latest catastrophes and an Islamic prayer rug lights up when its user is facing Mecca.

A chart resembling a food pyramid titled "Hierarchy of Digital Distractions" breaks down the way social media and communication technology consume our time with "actual work" at the bottom.   Continued...