The Beauty Myth in Focus


What is beauty, actually? And what do we focus on when we look at a beautiful object or a beautiful image? “The Beauty Myth” an exhibition that opens May 6, 2015 at Schlossmuseum Linz , considers the many facets of beauty—in nature, in art and in society. Ars Electronica’s contribution to this show is a pair of interactive installations that also mark the launch of long-term collaboration between the two institutions. FOCUS, developed by the Ars Electronica Futurelab, enables museum visitors to use their smartphone to shoot photos of particular sectors of their favorite objects on display in “The Beauty Myth” and then transfer the image to cute little personalized pin-on lapel buttons they can take home with them.


Photo: Martin Hieslmair

Basic Equipment: FOCUS Kit & App

How does it work? First of all, you get a FOCUS Kit that’s available for €1 at the Schlossmuseum Shop. It includes everything you need for FOCUS—a blank button and a flyer containing info about the exhibition as well as instructions for using the smartphone app (that can be downloaded free-of-charge) and for transferring the image to the button.

In Search of Beauty: Photography in the Exhibition

With the installed app and the built-in camera of a smartphone or tablet, visitors can embark on a journey of discovery through “The Beauty Myth” on Level -1 and take snapshots of their favorite exhibits. The smartphone already provides a preview of what the finished button will look like.


Uploading to the Gallery

Once you’re satisfied with the shot, you can conveniently upload it from the smartphone to the FOCUS website (, where the image takes its place in a gallery of all images created by visitors to the Schlossmuseum, and simultaneously appears on a screen at the FOCUS Terminal in the museum, where the digital image is transformed into a real button.


Photo: Martin Hieslmair

At the FOCUS Terminal: The Button Takes Shape

This transformation process starts here at the end of the exhibition, from left to right. First, the image displayed on the screen is selected, and then printed out in color on paper. A small punch press puts the paper into a round shape. The final step is to insert the paper with the picture-side up and the blank button with the pin-side down into the button machine. After a few pulls on the lever, the button is finished and can be removed from the machine.


Photos: Martin Hieslmair

Pictures at an Exhibition

Now, the user can pin the personalized button onto his/her clothing or bag and wear it home. FOCUS thus represents a new approach to configuring how museum visitors partake of and perceive exhibition content. The process of creating a button invites them to actively encounter the theme, and also provides something tangible they can take along with them.


Photo: Martin Hieslmair

The Ars Electronica Blog will next feature the second interactive installation created by Ars Electronica Solutions for “The Beauty Myth” exhibition: the Morphing Station that takes portraits of individual visitors in a photo booth and then blends them together into a beautiful new hybrid face.