The Dalí Museum (St Petersburg, FL) and Vectorform (Detroit, MI) challenged participants of the Project 34 Hackathon to “Enhance the Dalí experience.” My partner, JD Parsley, and I interpreted this as having two primary interpretations; first to enhance the delivery of messages and concepts promoted by Salvador Dalí, in his artwork, and second improve the overall experience of visitors of the Dalí Museum. We chose to approach the challenge by trying to bridge between both possible interpretations.
JD and I spent the next several hours in the gallery, eavesdropping on tours, examining paintings, watching how patrons moved through the galleries and how they interact with the space. We tried to both determine what the specific needs of the museum might be and what Dalí himself would want the experience to be. There are number of common themes in Dalí’s work: double imagery, a code of symbols used repeatedly across works, use and appreciation of new technology and mediums, references to previous works, and the incorporation of the unexpected or surprising. From a museum management perspective we saw primary effort given interpreting Dalí’s works and the design of the museum for patrons. This is primarily accomplished through the use of audio headsets and docent-led tours.
Our next step was to evaluate the technology available to us. We set up and examined data from a Muse headband, Leap Motion, and did initial set up with an Oculus Rift VR set. Ultimately, given the time frame available and only having a two-man team, we decided that the new technology was outside the scope of what we could complete. We decided to lean upon experience from our previous hackathon, hosted by NBC-Universal, and use Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) beacons to trigger interactive experiences in a mobile app.
Essentially the app was one piece in a system. BLE beacons would be placed near or behind points of interest and registered to activities within the mobile app. When patrons downloaded it, they would get full access to the audio files used for the general tour. But they also would unlock the ability to interact with these beacons. Each would trigger an interactive task, activity or experience that once completed would remain attached to their account. Additionally, we intended the final product to enable social integration, allowing custom image shares and status updates. When the Dalí Museum has special exhibits and events, custom activity “cards” can be obtained. On a management side this app would also be useful as the museum can gather metrics including movement data and user engagement rates.
For our vertical slice, we focused on a single painting, “The Disintegration of the Persistence of Memory.” Completed in 1954 this piece is essentially a new interpretation of his prior work, “The Persistence of Memory” (1931). Both paintings deal with the essential nature of existence and where the earlier work focuses on dream states and identity rooted in Freudian psychology, ‘Disintegration’ faces a post-atomic world in which all things are breaking apart into their constituent components. The primary elements are carried and reinterpreted from the first two the second painting. We wished to draw attention to their similarity and critical differences. The judges selected our piece as the grand prize winner and the app is currently in development with Vectorform.
Here are a collection of mock up images.
Some images from the event itself.