Mar 23, 2011

iPad Imitates Art—Hot Studio Designs SFMOMA Permanent Collection iPad Experience

Take a break while touring the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) and the artists will join you, literally. Thanks to the museum’s recent installation of Apple iPads in one of the gallery’s interstitial spaces, patrons can relax and explore SFMOMA’s permanent collection from the perspective of the artists themselves. “For every one work of art, there are many perspectives and stories to tell,” said Chris Jones, Principal of Strategy and Engineering at Hot Studio. “Hearing stories from the artists themselves gives meaningful context to each work in the museum’s collection.” Titled “Artists Working, Artists Talking,” this iPad installation, an SFMOMA first, represents a whole new way to integrate technology into the museum experience.

Created as an educational experiment in line with SFMOMA’s longstanding dedication to using new media and technologies to enhance public understanding of contemporary art, the iPad app project follows Hot Studio’s 2008 SFMOMA website redesign. “Not only does Hot Studio thoroughly embrace our mission and goals, but their holistic understanding of the user experience made Hot an obvious choice for our iPad initiative,” said Peter Samis, Associate Curator of Interpretative Media at SFMOMA.

Centered on eight main themes within the permanent collection, the new app introduces patrons to artists’ own perspectives and reasons for making their art. From Ansel Adams shooting on location to Imogen Cunningham in the darkroom, from rare footage of Frida Kahlo to sculptor Richard Serra “performing” his splash piece of molten lead, Hot worked closely with SFMOMA to cultivate the most educational and insightful video content. “The app features incredible footage in 8 millimeter to high def and everything in between,” said Chris Jones. “It’s like opening a multimedia time-capsule for each work of art in the collection.”

To maximize the iPad experience, Hot worked alongside development partner Pivotal Labs (also with offices in San Francisco and New York) to infuse the video collection with an engagingly interactive home screen, drag and swipe interface, and an effortless browsing experience that enables deep dives into rich content. “We worked with Pivotal right from the beginning,” said Jones. “This really helped us establish the interactive design with technical possibilities as we built the app.” The end result serves as SFMOMA’s latest step in the evolution of the museum experience. “Artists Workings, Artists Talking” debuted on two iPads in the museum’s gallery on February 18, 2011.