A note: This article was co-written by Angela Perrone, Katherine Miller, and Rachel Ginsberg before the events of the past few weeks, in a world that feels yet again very different. Rather than rewriting, we’ve decided to publish as is. We stand in solidarity with those organizing against institutionalized racism and discrimination in all forms, and look forward to integrating more prominent discussions around diversity, equity, access, and inclusion into upcoming Interaction Lab programming.
Well before the pandemic changed everything, the Interaction Lab was committed to running large scale collaborative events. Our public program series, launched in September 2019, convened conversations and engaged participants in conversation around a wide range of topics related to the intersection between museum studies, experience design, storytelling, and emerging technology. The plan for Spring 2020 was to continue our event series with deeper exploration of the relationship between interpretation, storytelling, and information design. Then COVID-19 happened. …
When we first began to build out our plans for the Interaction Lab, we were already certain public programs would play a big role in our work. We conceived of our public programs to convene a variety of audiences for shared learning, exploration, and discussion on topics related to our work reimagining the visitor experience at Cooper Hewitt. Reflecting the Lab’s values in the structure of our events was critical to their success, so, we designed the programs around these priorities:
Amanda Hess wrote a very smart piece in the NY Times that does a great job of teasing out many problematic aspects of the kinds of experiences (think: “museums”, “factories” and “mansions”) now common in NYC and other big cities. For me, there were many sections of Hess’s article that stuck out, but perhaps none more than the following:
The central disappointment of these spaces is not that they are so narcissistic, but rather that they seem to have such a low view of the people who visit them. Observing a work of art or climbing a mountain actually invites us to create meaning in our lives. …
This is a topic that you’re going to hear a lot about from me. It’s been deeply on my mind for the past couple years, and lately so, in overdrive. I’m not going to say too much here, but have a listen, and let me know what you think.
Also, early notice — I’ll be hosting the first Stories of Personal Growth dinner party this October 18th. Attendance will be limited to 7 guests, all of whom need to be strangers to each other. I’ll be sending out more information about it via my mailing list. If you haven’t yet signed up for that, you can do so here.
Thanks for being with me, friends! So excited to keep this moving.
Even 200 years after its publication, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein still resonates. This brilliant story gave birth to science fiction as a genre, and today is a commonly cited, and powerful metaphor through which to explore our collective anxieties about technology, and its capacity to escape our control.
For exactly this reason, Frankenstein AI: a monster made by many reimagines the original narrative, but recasts Shelley’s creature as a naïve, emotionally aware, and highly intelligent “life form” — an artificial intelligence. This multi-year research project, conceived and developed in collaboration with the Columbia University School of the Arts’ Digital Storytelling Lab, seeks to provoke and broaden the conversation around the trajectory of artificial intelligence — a technology that, perhaps more than any other, activates deep human fears around being made obsolete, and even dominated by intelligences that far outstrip our own. …
Of course it makes sense that a definitive exhibition on David Bowie would have a significant sound design element to it, but somehow the thought hadn’t crossed my mind. So, when I walked into the space was handed a set of headphones, I laughed quietly to myself. I should tell you that I’m not the person who reads about things before I go to see them. I hate spoilers. I want to have my chance to experience a designed environment and imagine its meta-structure before being given answers about the hows and whys.
Though to some degree it’s satisfying if I find out my interpretations were “right” after the fact, to be honest, I prefer when I’m wrong. I love gaining access to a whole different way of thinking about something that wouldn’t naturally flow out of my mind. I’m infinitely excited by brains that work differently from mine and love the opportunity to learn from them. …
After hearing everyone raving about Nanette, Hannah Gadsby’s Netflix special, I finally made some time to watch it.
She said so many things that resonated for me, but by far and away the most compelling was her analysis of how telling jokes about her life had influenced the way she internalized her own story.
This idea cuts right to the heart of why I’ve started this project in the first place.
As of now, Stories of Personal Growth consists of me ruminating on my stuff, honestly because that’s the easiest place for me to start, and I really just needed to start. …
It’s 8:30 in the morning, central European time. While much of the US is sleeping, I’m preparing for my day. Today I’m speaking at TedX Berlin, at the Berlin Philharmonic. I thought it would be a good time to share my thoughts.
Please let me know yours.
Lately, I’ve been lucky enough to encounter situations that have inspired me to challenge many of the assumptions that formed some foundational elements of my personality — stories about myself and those around me whom I’ve known (or known of) since childhood.
Though this process isn’t new to me, it doesn’t happen often at the scale I’ve been experiencing recently. It would be easy to dig my heels in, and fight it. I don’t have time. I don’t have emotional bandwidth, etc. But the truth is, it doesn’t work that way. When things are unraveling, when growth is happening, we just have to let go, and let them take their course.
Take a listen, and let me know what you think. If this resonates for you, or if it doesn’t, I’d love to hear more.
Stories of Personal Growth is a project about becoming my best self, by telling stories about myself to myself and to other people. I’ve discovered, kind of by accident, how powerful personal stories are as a way to not just take control of my own narrative, but to actually manifest it in the world — to create a mythology around myself that is helping me to envision and become the person I truly want to be. After all, we cannot become what we can’t see.
It isn’t just me.
I believe this practice has the potential to help everyone, in our own different, nuanced, and highly personal ways.
So, sharing these thoughts with you is the first step, the first of many.
Stay tuned, and please, don’t be a stranger.