A Series of Experiments for the “Espaço do Conhecimento” Museum at the Federal University of Minas Gerais (2018)

This investigation developed interactive projects to be presented on a large screen on the building’s facade at the University’s “Espaço do Conhecimento” museum. The museum is located at “Circuito da Liberdade”, a historical square in Belo Horizonte that is composed of 13 institutions, including museums and cultural centers. It is also an important political site as it hosts the Governor’s Palace and has served as a stage for many political protests since the capital’s inauguration in 1898.

“Espaço do Conhecimento” museum at UFMG

The main goal of this project was to develop new interactive strategies for the facade screen to further engage the public with the museum’s mission of communication of science. The facade screen has displayed 518 projects since 2012. Despite the significant number of initiatives, most consisted of video and still images, while only 14 were interactive in nature.

The project methodology consisted of the following steps: a theoretical and methodological survey about urban screen projects, a series of design sprints for project conceptualization, development, and tests.

Results: This project resulted in two experiments. The first experiment is titled “Observatory of an Ecosystem of Emotions” and consists of a data visualization generated by the monitoring of predefined hashtags on Twitter themed around the Brazilian presidential election of 2018. We collected tweets that used trending hashtags during controversial campaign moments and applied Digital Methods and Data Science approaches to Sentiment Analysis. We used Processing and VVVV to create generative art visualizations based on the contextual mining of the tweets’ text categorized by six emotions: pride, sadness, joy, fear, love and anger.

This experiment proposed a live data visualization during one of the many recurring political protests that took place in 2018 at the square where the museum is located. The data visualization would have resulted from geolocated tweets originating from the square perimeter. However, given the sensitive political climate in the country, it was not possible to do a live demonstration of this project.

Data visualization with particles according to hashtag use in Twitter
Sentiment Analysis applied to content of tweets

The second experiment is titled “Occupy the facade: stickerbomb!”. Belo Horizonte is known for its urban public arts. Since 2015, artists, curators, City Hall and private sponsors have organized festivals to occupy the city landscape with graffiti murals, large scale painting covering entire building facades and overpasses (see “CURA – Urban Arts Circuit” and “Telas Urbanas“). Similarly, sticker art/sticker bombing has emerged as an aesthetic and political expression as individuals tag the city’s landscape.  

“Occupy the facade: stickerbomb!” encouraged the public to digitally tag the facade of the “Espaço do Conhecimento” museum. We installed signage at the square where the museum is located to invite people to access a mobile-friendly site and interact with the building’s facade. The site hosted a webform that allowed participants to choose from a collection of stickers, designed especially for this project. After a participant submits her chosen sticker, the data visualization on the building’s facade is updated, displaying her choice. As participants engage with the project, the building’s facade transforms and is covered with the stickers. This project presents a collaborative construction of what is being displayed and proposes a different way to interact with the city, the museum’s architectural space, and with its collections.

Simulation of the project in the VVVV interface