Author Archives: mariantoniav

Museums,Technology, Life

Technology Based LifeI would like to share with you my response to the first chapter of the book Networked Publics titled “Place: The Networking of Public Space” by Kazys Varnelis and Anne Friedberg, and what I think the role of Museums would be in the future in response to a technology-based life.

How new technologies are affecting human relationships and social structure? As human beings we have always been part of social groups and I wonder how technology is changing this. Is this human disconnection created by technological connection going to turn us into a kind of hermit with no private lives and no personal relationships?  Or are we maybe going to become nomads again?

Cell phones have brought about significant changes at many different levels. As stated in Networked Publicseven working and meeting schedules are more flexible because we have the opportunity to call and tell we are running late. But from my personal experience more relevant changes have occurred in developing countries. Places where rural and poor people never had a telephone because companies wouldn’t go that far away or risk not to get paid, suddenly had the opportunity to connect to the world. The appearance of the cell phone and pay-as-you-go plans gave these people the opportunity to communicate with the rest of the world for first time and in some sense to belong to a society bigger than their small towns or neighborhoods. They finally could be part of the exterior world.

But in the same way cell phones had the capacity to integrate communities into the world, they also have a bigger capacity to disintegrating human physical contact. We have arrived to a point where we don’t even want to hear each other’s voice. We can just text each other. There is no need to create a physical connection. But as human beings we need to touch and we need to be touche. It is part of a healthy life. I can understand now why some movie writers would imagine the future of the world as a place where people won’t even touch each other to have sex.  But I wonder if this isolation is the consequence of technology taking people apart or the reaction of people trying to get back their personal space and get away from a live overload with technology. The question here is: Is technology isolating us from people or is it taking away our personal space and moments?  I think the answer is both. We don’t have more time for ourselves but we are fewer and fewer in direct contact with other people. People expect us to be working, informed and available all the time just because technology has given us the possibility to do it, but it has also taken away our right to rest and have those spaces in live so important to be with ourselves, reflect and even pray. I remember a business man telling me how upset he was because airplanes have internet now and his boss was expecting him to work on the airplane while before he could have this time for himself.  Is this global connection disconnecting us from ourselves?

Another interesting relationship is the way communication can transform architecture. As Victor Hugo stated the book changed the way architecture was used as a communicative surface. Are new technologies and ways of communication going to change the relationship between architecture an humans in more deeply ways?

When internet appeared we were wondering if office spaces, stores and restaurants would become obsolete by the fact that you could do everything from home and send it by internet and also get everything from the net. But now with mobile internet and mobile technologies, I wonder… is our house going to become obsolete?

If telecocoons have given the possibility to create their own worlds completely divorced from a physical architecture, can technology lead us to a divorce from it as a permanent place to live? If we can carry our work, our connections, our communications, our games, and our diversions in a small cell phone inside our pockets all over the world, why would we need a house?  Could it be possible that we go back to the time when men were nomads? Traveling now is easier and more affordable and technologies give us the possibility to stay connected to the world no matter where we are. Maybe the future residential projects will become hospitality projects and hotels would become our virtual homes. Instead of bringing our bags full of stuff we will bring our cell phones full of connections.

Now the question that rises is: What is going to be the role of museums in a so connected and at the same time so detached world?  In a world where people will lose their connection with themselves and where physical connection with other people and spaces will be irrelevant, museums will offer a space for reflection and reconnection with us and also a physical space to promote physical connections between people while learning and amusing ourselves.  In a world where people see themselves just as part of a global network, museums will still be part of the network but will bring people together again and will recreate a sense of society and a sense of belonging to the human race and not only to a technological network. No matter where we are, museums will be the space to escape from virtual life and reconnect with real life.

Maria Antonia Villegas

Exhibiting Architecture or Promoting Tourism?

"Chile: Territory For Architcture" Exhibition

"Chile: Territory For Architecture" Exhibition at Pure Chile Gallery

“Chile: Territory for Architecture” is a temporary exhibition showed during the month of September in the Pure Chile Gallery in SOHO to celebrate Chilean Architecture. This small exhibition was curetted by Alberto Sato and presented a selection of works by 12 Chilean architects developed through all the Chilean territory from the northern desert to the South Pole. As Sato himself wrote, these architectural works represent “a new alliance between what is native and what is exotic; between the planetary dimension and the domestic dimension; between eternalness and ephemeralness; between fashion and the sense of cultural transcendence”.

The exhibition displayed important Chilean works such as: the Elemental Iquique by Alejandro Aravena, the Museo del Desierto de Atacama by Ramon Coz and others, the Edificio BIP Computers by Alberto Mozo and the “Termas Geotermicas” by German del Sol. Once you entered to the cozy gallery there was a beautiful image of the Chilean map (the same one on this blog) shining on the left wall of the room, I could notice it was backlit with three fluorescent tubes and it was the main character in this mini-exhibition.   The exhibition based its show on digital media, displaying the works of architecture on three big screens located under the image of the Chilean map. Images of the different pieces of architecture, actual photos and renderings appeared in the screens; each of them showing a different project. It was a little bit annoying having to stand in there in front of these three screens waiting to see all of the 12 architectural works. The wall on the back was used to project some drawings of the works. White drawings projected on a black surface. The experience was very similar to the one with the screens; if there was an special work that I wanted to see I had to stand in there and wait for the other 11 works to show up.

It was a completely directed exhibition. It was impossible to create your own experience, to look at it in your own way. I understand the dimensions of the space were limiting but I was expecting to have a little bit more options to experience it. The lack of real objects was its biggest weakness. Me and my friends were expecting to see real drawings, sketches, actual models, real objects that could give us a better understanding of the process behind these 12 architectural works and create a stronger connection with them but it didn’t happen. Moreover the gallery looked more like a travel agency; it was full of catalogs promoting Chile and typical Chilean products for sell. The exhibition itself was so weak that I am still wondering, was this exhibition really about Chilean architecture or was it just an excuse to promote this gallery and tourism in Chile?

Ma. Antonia Villegas

Learning while Enjoying

"Parque Explora", an interactive experience that teaches you while you amuse

"Parque Explora", an interactive experience that teaches you while you amuse

I would like to share with you my experience in “Parque Explora”, a very innovative interactive park in Medellin, Colombia. Its main objective is to disseminate and promote science and technology in the population of the city and its visitors. It gives them the opportunity to experiment, learn while they are enjoying, and build some knowledge that can help developing social welfare and dignity. It has more than 300 interactive experiences outdoor and indoor, spaces for experimentation and exhibition places.

One of the places I enjoyed the best when I went there was the open hall. An incredible place outdoors fulfilled with interactive experiences to learn about physics while you play. I remember my physics’ lessons in high school and how boring they were, but this place makes of physics an entertaining experience. You can experiment the physics’ laws on your own while you are spinning around on a circular platform and controlling its speed depending on how close your chest is to the center of it. You can also experience the laws of gravity, inertia, parabolic movement, eccentric movement, etc. You learn tons of stuff that is usually boring while you are amusing yourself.

Another amazing space in the park is the digital territory. Here you can learn everything about new technologies while you create with music, images and movement.  You make your own animations, you broadcast the weather on a TV station, you analyze your own body temperature with infrared cameras, and you compose your own songs. It’s is magical.

“Parque Explora” makes of learning the most fun, amusing, unforgettable experience.


Palace Yurt

Palace Yurt installed at the "Fashioning Felt" exhibition at the Cooper-Hewitt

Palace Yurt installed at the "Fashioning Felt" exhibition at the Cooper-Hewitt

An installation designed by Janice Arnold transforms the beautiful but common greenhouse of the Cooper Hewitt Museum into a magical-spiritual space. The reinterpretation of traditional Mongolian spaces through a more contemporary vision was meant to be a reading room, a discussion space and a meeting point. Meters and meters of stunning contemporary designed fabrics made out of felt and other different materials (wool, mohair, silk, metal, linen, soy, tinsel) were hung from the ceiling connecting it to the walls. The installation is homage to the traditional manner in which felt was made and used hundreds of years ago and the way it is still being made and used in central Asia today. It brings the public closer to the Mongolian culture in very subtle ways. The manufacture of the fabrics and the creation of the installation took up to two years.

In the Mongolian culture making felt is a blessing and the fabrics in this installation have written on them a Mongolian blessing in both English and also its original language.  The artist embroidered the blessing in the felt in a subtle and unnoticeable way, camouflaging it with the texture of the fabrics. She was trying to reflect how the blessing is something infused in the making of felt. In central Asia, spaces like this were traditionally used as conservatories for plants.