Here’s a situation that lots of museum visitors are sure to have experienced on occasion: you’re standing in front of a work that absolutely blows you away, and you’re immediately overcome by the irresistible urge to tell the whole world all about this incredible piece of art—what it is, who created it, and exactly what makes this work so utterly brilliant! The thing is: in most museums, photography isn’t permitted, maybe you’re having a hard time finding the little sign containing the info about it, or perhaps you don’t happen to have anything with you to jot down notes. For whatever reason, the moment is lost. But now there’s a convenient solution: Ars Wild Card.
Ars Wild Card is an iPhone app (be cool, more platforms are in the pipeline!) you use to scan a QR code that’s part of the description of a work on exhibit or a workshop. The next step is to snap a photo—for instance, you in a jaunty pose pointing to the work. The software then frames the image, augmenting it with a description that lets you add comments. Then, you can share all of it with the world via internet (Facebook, Twitter & Co.) or in the form of a good ol’ fashioned printout. Wild Card does just what its name suggests—serves as a placeholder for whatever input comes down the pike.
The driving force behind the original development of the Ars Wild Card was the desire to enable visitors to a 2011 exhibition that Ars Electronica curated in Osaka, Japan to not only access project descriptions but also to provide museumgoers with a means of sharing their experiences. One of the very first brainstorms in this connection entailed integrating social networks as well as linking the projects into the cloud so that the visitors’ experiences with the projects wouldn’t be restricted to the location at which those experiences happened.
An equally important consideration for Emiko & Hideaki Ogawa and Manuela Naveau, the ones who actually implemented the Wild Card concept, was photographically documenting exhibitions, which the Wild Card takes care of pretty much automatically. It’s also really interesting—not least of all for the artists themselves—to see how members of the public perceive the respective works, how the process of encountering the exhibited art plays out. Especially in the media art genre that often calls for those partaking of it to take a hands-on approach to objects on display, this function of the iPhone app is extremely valuable since it generates feedback from a wide array of perspectives.
One aspect that was by no means foreseen in the development process was ways in which visitors in Osaka would use the Wild Card to get creative in their own right, whereby the Wild Card’s impact was nothing less than catalytic, functioning as an element that simplifies and accelerates processes. Similar to Shadowgram, another interactive installation that Emiko & Hideaki Ogawa had a hand in, the project and the work of art itself grow far beyond their original purview and dimensions.
Ars Wild Card was recently deployed at Tokyo Great Creativity 2012 – The Revolution of the Geniuses. The following pages offer an impression of how players there dealt (with) their Wild Cards.
In the future, exhibitions in the Ars Electronica Center as well will be Ars Wild Card-enabled, and we’re already looking forward with great anticipation to seeing what influence this little program has on the next Festival in September. Until then, there’ll be various workshops that let you get your feet wet. And the Center too will soon be the setting for interesting opportunities to switch on your Smartphone and show the world how to really see things.