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The Canadian Museum for Human Rights

Creative Director and Interaction Designer
RAA NY, Snibbe Interactive
2006 – 2008, 2012 – 2014

 

This new museum for Canada opened in September 2014 to “explore the subject of human rights with a special but not exclusive reference to Canada, in order to enhance the public’s understanding of human rights, to promote respect for others and to encourage reflection and dialogue.”

I was involved with the project in two capacities, at two different stages during it’s 10 year long development. As an interaction designer for New York exhibition design company, Ralph Appelbaum Associates, I helped develop some of the very earliest ideas, working closely with the lead designer. Later on, as Creative Director of Snibbe Interactive, I developed two of the exhibits through several design phases producing numerous storyboards, animations and design documents.



Prototyping the Museum

 

Several years before the museum opened, I worked with RAA’s design team to developed a series of interactive concepts. A few of these ideas were developed into videos featuring ‘green-screened’ actors, with animated graphics applied to the scene using Adobe’s After Effects.

This, along with other videos I produced, were shown by Mr. Appelbaum to audiences in Canada during presentations that helped to source funding for the project. They were also used on the Museum’s website to describe how technology could be used to augment and explore the stories, issues and challenges of protecting Human Rights in Canada and around the world.


Social Floor

The Social Floor exhibit produces responsive floor animations to generate the feeling of being ‘within’ and ‘connected’ , but also ‘outside’ and ‘distinct’ from everyone else. Intentionally abstract, the exhibit helps set the scene for what is to come. The playful quality of the experience helps prepare people’s minds to the idea of exploring something new.

The colored ribbons flow gracefully around people as they step inside the circle. As soon as two or more people enter the space, bright white lines create boundaries that dynamically reposition themselves in relation to where people are standing. As people come closer together the colored ribbons encircle the newly formed group, causing the boundaries to break up, collapsing into energetic particles.

People manage these newly implied social relationships by playing with the system, deliberately testing the boundaries to see what happens. The rapid reaction of the projected light enables groups to spontaneous gather and part, gently warming people up to the themes of the museum.

 


Human Rights Now

The Human Rights Now exhibit was designed to provide an up-to-date overview of Human Rights stories around the globe, displaying information on a large projection. The system was designed to grow over time, with a database of content applied to ‘media-blocks’.

The system operator could choose a content, tag it with key-words, and then apply it to a media-block. Depending on which media-block was chosen, the content would appear on the wall as a video sequence, animated word sequence, data visualization or tweet. Tagging the content enabled the system to automatically curate when information would appear in relation to other stories.