Already half way through its run, Design and the Elastic Mind at the Museum of Modern Art in New York is an exhilarating exploration of the synergy between science and design. Taking as its basis the idea that because humans are bombarded by new technology and information at a greater pace and volume than ever before, they are required to do more than simply adapt to take advantage of the changes in the world around them, they have to become more flexible, too . Adaptability + acceleration= elasticity
The exhibition is a fascinating combination of science, technology, art and design. Some of the exhibits are simply beautiful, like GROW a wall of moving photovoltaic panels that generate both wind and solar energy, which was inspired by ivy.
Many of the designers explore ways in which we can harness new technologies to reduce our carbon footprint, as in the Non-Stop Shoes, where energy produced by everyday activities could be used to power light bulbs or a radio.
You do need to be adaptable and not given to claustrophobia to get the most out of the exhibition. The space is half the size it needs to be to allow visitors time to explore all the exhibits on show, some of which require time just to process the information presented. My advice is to get there early to try to beat the crowds.
Otherwise stand back and watch the effect they have on Sonumbra, a kind of sonic umbrella with solar cells woven into textiles providing shade during the day and light at night. The movement of the visitors around it is translated into sound and light to which the Sonumbra responds.
Go to the exhibition if you possibly can, it is a thrilling and informative experience but if you can’t get there in person make sure to visit the exhibition’s website. It’s a comprehensive overview presented in a user-friendly interface, and you can spend as much time as like at each installation.
Design and the Elastic Mind runs through May 12 2008 at MoMa, 11 West 53rd St, New York, NY 10019