Environments Studio I: OSGEMEOS Exhibit Design at the Miller ICA

Brief: Create a pop-up exhibition featuring an artist currently on exhibition at your client’s museum. the client wants at least one piece of the artist’s work to be on display, but they also want to use digital technology to enhance the visitor’s experience in ways they are not currently doing. Consider how technology can augment content, increase learning and/or make the museum experience more interactive.

The exhibition will be temporarily installed within the first floor of CMU’s Miller ICA. The goal is to both increase awareness of the client’s exhibitions to the general public as well as attract more CMU students, faculty and staff to the museum.

Table of Contents

I. Initial Research and Ideation

II. Sketchup Model

III. Physical Interactions

IV. Physical Model

Part I — Initial Research/Ideation

OSGEMEOS, or “the twins” in Portuguese, consists of twin brothers from Brazil. They are primarily known for their public graffiti and mural work in the streets. A lot of their work draws inspiration from 1990s New York City hip hop and street art culture and they have integrated a lot of those themes into their outdoors and indoors works. Recurring visual elements in their pieces include the use of yellow skinned figures, optical illusion-like patterns, and bright and saturated colors.

I started off the project by researching and visiting the current OSGEMEOS exhibition at the Mattress Factory and checking out the Miller ICA. I took note of the different types of sensory experiences throughout the gallery space and thought of initial ideas for bringing interactive experiences into the Miller ICA.

Interaction Ideas

After experiencing OSGEMEOS’ actual exhibit at the Mattress Factory, I wanted to create an exhibit that used digital technology to improve the non-visual sensory experience of the space. I focused on creating a sense of being “outdoors” and tried to move the exhibition away from a traditional gallery space. I wanted the experience to be playful, fun and almost unrestrained. While going through the different gallery spaces at the Mattress Factory, I noticed that a lot of sounds and vibrations were utilized to create a more full-body experience of the work. I wanted to incorporate that same concept when designing the Miller ICA and I brainstormed a few initial ideas:

  • Creating a concrete ground with variations in texture to create the feeling of visiting an outdoor space
  • Using scaffolding instead of traditional gallery walls to partition and affect visitor flow. People can follow the path it creates but they can also duck and move through the scaffolding
  • Using colorful visuals to reinforce the vibrancy of OSGEMEOS’ works.
  • Using sensors to trigger air circulation (fans) so visitors could feel more included in the space as if they were walking past a street with cars passing by
  • Using sensors to trigger sounds to play street sounds in increasing volume to create a depth effect and create an illusion of walking through a busy, outdoors space
  • Using sensors to detect the level of lightness in the outside environment so lights within the gallery can mimic the outside environment

Final Interaction Idea

I narrowed down my initial ideas and focused on audio-spatial interactions for my final ideas:

  • Minimal text regarding OSGEMEOS — since their works are displayed on walls without much explanation, I thought it would be appropriate to do the same for their exhibition. Instead of having a wall of text, there would be only a self portrait of the brothers and their signature placed in the vestibule to introduce visitors to the artists.
  • Scaffolding as partitions
  • Sound interaction 1: As visitors enter the space, a proximity sensor will activate speakers embedded within a work of OSGEMEOS and play old school NYC hip hop music. As visitors get closer to the work, the volume will increase and as they walk away, the music will fade into the background. I initially thought of putting speakers on top of the artwork, but upon researching more of their previous works, I found pieces that had actual speakers playing old school NYC hip hop embedded into part of their sculptural installations.
  • Sound interaction 2: As visitors enter another part of the space, a motion sensor will trigger a row of speakers to play subway and street noise in progression of position and volume. I wanted to create the sensation of being on the actual streets and experiencing the feeling of moving forward in space. I chose subway sounds because it is an integral part of the street experience, especially in NYC and Brazil.

Parti Diagrams

Once I had a few ideas for interactions and the general mood of the space, I began mapping out how I would physically structure the Miller ICA to accompany OSGEMEOS.

I ultimately arrived at this final structure for my space. I played around with the interweaving of cramped and open spaces to create that inconsistent nature present throughout many outdoors environments.

Part II. Sketchup Model

First Iteration

In my first iteration, I played around with implementing street objects such as streetlights, mailboxes, trashcans, and water tanks. I made the entire gallery space a bright red color to fortify the role color plays in the works of OSGEMEOS. Instead of framing the works, I wanted the entire walls of the gallery to be painted with the works to stay true to the actual outdoors works of OSGEMEOS.

Second Iteration

I decided against the street objects as I thought it was becoming too disorderly and out of place at weird locations without helping the experience too much. I also began adding concrete textures to the walls and flooring to create a more appropriate setting that parallels the work in its actual context. Although I wanted the works to be directly painted on walls, after studying existing gallery spaces for OSGEMEOS, I realized all their works were framed so I wanted to maintain that consistency. I also began separating gallery walls by color to better match the color themes of the works on each side of the wall. I also wanted the color difference to act as a threshold for visually traveling from one space to the next. Instead of using walls for the partitions like I did in the first one, I began to implement my scaffolding concept into the model.

Final Sketchup Model

For the final version, I refined the colors of the walls, added in necessary text to promote the current OSGEMEOS exhibition at the Mattress Factory. I also refined the scaffolding to make it more structurally feasible and reminiscent of actual scaffolding.

CMU Design 2021. Communications/Environments Design + HCI