Rupriikki Media Museum opened their new exhibition Jokapäiväinen mediamme (Our Daily Media) on October 4, 2012. For the past year, I’ve been working on three interactive installations for the exhibition. The approach for designing the installations was Media Archaeological or Interface Archaeological. We used old technologies and interfaces – such as the telegraph, analog photography, rotary dial telephones – as the interfaces for providing digital content and user experiences for the visitors.
I would like to thank the staff of Rupriikki for inviting me to work on this project. The whole process was a collaboration with the museum. I would especially like to thank researchers Niklas Nylund and Outi Penninkangas, and exhibiton designer Elina Rantasaari. And of course the construction and technical crew who built the exhibition.
Pimiö [The Darkroom]
The first installation I would like to talk about is the Darkroom. Film photography and darkrooms are far from obsolete, but still the whole process of developing you photographs in a darkroom might be quite unfamiliar for the generation that has only used digital cameras. This installation uses the gestures and artefacts found in a real darkroom as the way to interact with the installation.
The visitor places an empty photograph paper into the developing tray and a picture appears on the paper. The picture then turns into a slideshow of other photographs of the same theme. There are currently five different papers and each paper is going to display different photographs from the Photo Archives of Tampere Museums.
The whole interaction experience is not very accurate compared to all the steps you need to do in a real darkroom, but is enough to trigger the memories of a real darkroom for anyone who has ever worked in one. Or it could inspire someone to get into analog photography. It also does what it is meant to do, which is to serve as an interface for browsing historical photographs.
Technical stuff: Each paper has an RFID tagembedded into it and the RFID reader under the developing tray recognizes each paper and displays the correct content. The reader is attached to an Arduino Uno board and Quartz Composer is used to display the projected images.
Sähkötyschat [Telegraph Chat]
There are two telegraph keys in different locations in the exhibition. The visitors can send messages from one location to the other with morse code. The display shows the message that you are writing and also the incoming telegram sent from someone from the other side of the room.
I started working on this in January 2012. A couple of weeks after that, I saw the Tworse Key project by Martin Kaltenbrunner. (Other Telegraph + Arduino projects exist too). Since he had done the work of converting morse code to text on the Arduino and released the source with a CC license, I decided to not reinvent the wheel and based my code on that. In accordance with the license (cc-by-sa), I will release the source as soon as I clean it up a bit.
Technical stuff: Arduino + Quartz Composer. One Mac Mini controlled both of the locations.
The third installation is a simple phone that allows the visitor to call various numbers from the past and present, such as Neiti Aika (Miss Time/Speaking Clock service) or Juho Holmstén-Heiniö, an inventor from Tampere.