For the 100th Anniversary of IBM the company hosts an exhibition called “Think” in front of Lincoln Center. The exhibit is nothing more than a public relations tool for the IBM Company, faceting the corporation as a global innovator for improving the lives of humans. The feel-good exhibition used video, data visualization, and interactive media to spotlight technological advances. The entire experience compares to the Coca-Cola Corporation’s museum World of Coca-Cola, except IBM does not give out free sugary drinks at the end of the tour.
Aside from the obvious problems surrounding the quality of the information within the exhibition, the installation explores innovative curatorial practices. The installation tracks sensors connecting to the surrounding environment to monitor traffic, pollution, and weather. The most impressive aspect of the installation, are life sized touch activated screens, which allow the visitor to tailor the experience to their personal interests. The interactive media broke down into clichéd categories like ‘Mapping,’ ‘Understanding,’ ‘Believing,’ ‘Seeing,’ and ‘Acting.’ The portals allowed access to sound bites of social innovators/scientists, mapping, visual time lines, and more data visualization.
This innovative viewing experience is what was lacking from the MoMA’s presentation of “Talk To Me.” In fact, the exhibitions serve as perfect foils. A highly interactive exhibit lacking critical content vs. An exhibition of human’s and objects with out innovative curatorial ideas to spark interaction within the exhibition.
The most telling differences between this exhibit and a museum or gallery show was the lack of credit given to the graphic designers, videographers, and curators. When viewing the video, a small text box at the bottom of the screen invites the viewer to click and reveal the source of the video. Sadly, instead of names the button simply revealed an IBM copyright.
But in the words of Mitt Romney, “Corporations are people too.”
“Think” is open to the public until October 23rd.