The Connected Worlds exhibition shows a large-scale immersive, interactive ecosystem which encourages visitors to explore the interconnectedness of different environments and strategize to keep systems in balance.
The exhibition combines text and picture explanations, beautiful, interactive and game-like installation and also an interactive book. In terms of the entertaining part, I agree that it is a very successful piece of work. The interactions were well-designed and pretty intuitive. All we have to do is raising our arms and pointing to the screen to spread seeds, moving the loads on the ground to gather water for the plants and growing more plants to create clouds to collect more water.
However, if we think of the data visualization and educational part, is this installation provocative enough? Actually, I doubt so. It’s definitely a perfect design for us to experience how our world is connected. The mountains, wetlands, animals, jungles and all different creatures in this world are living in their own regions but sharing the common supply of water. But somehow I couldn’t see it clear and intuitive enough for the longterm effects of my interaction made to this world. Especially for the kids, who are the main target audience of NYSCI, they couldn’t identify which acts are producing negative or positive effects on this world, and they wouldn’t pay attention to observe the complicated balance system. If people are just interacting and playing with the system out of fun, what is the point of educating the importance of the ecosystem?
There is a standing table with a touch screen that provides a global view of tracking the system in real-time with animations, I suppose it shows what takes place in this huge environment, but then it shows “free play 15 mins session”, which really confused me.
I found the large timeline wall describing the history of Mathematics very inefficient as it was overloaded with information, designed as a bit cluster and I think that there is no way someone will take the time and focus so stand in front of it and try to read through it. It would take forever and would still be pretty confusing. In addition, it had two rows of numbers which while they added up, made it almost confusing with where to look at. With all that said, the biggest problem was the fact that the information was just placed without easy visibility to exactly when that fact was occurring. With a timeline, this is usually key.
I think the interactive version of the history wall does a better job. The overall canvas appears simple and more straightforward, and the user can look for the detailed introduction of the mathematicians by rotating the ball to locate the correct coordinates. The interactivity functions like a magnifying glass which adds more playfulness and thus encourages people to explore. This provides a good example of data visualization especially when we are dealing with massive information using timeline.
I also enjoyed a lot of the installations in Mathematica, which all involve with well-designed interactivities. The probability board, projective geometry are two of my favorites.