Pacific Visions : Art GalleryAquarium of the Pacific
CATEGORIES: art direction, UX, interaction, spatial experience
KEYWORDS: museums + cultural institutions, educational education, sustainability
I created a design framework; developed concept art and storyboards; and expanded the Aquarium’s network of design collaborators for an immersive installation in the Pacific Visions Art Gallery that addresses the question:
How might we create an emotional connection between humans and the World Ocean?
Pacific Visions, an expansion that opened at the Aquarium of the Pacific in Spring 2019, is the most powerful educational platform for communicating the challenges and opportunities of the World Ocean. It augments the Aquarium’s existing mission to “instill a sense of wonder, respect, and stewardship for the Pacific Ocean, its inhabitants, and ecosystems”.
The Pacific Visions experience is comprised of four main parts that build on the existing Aquarium experience:
↳ High-level journey map of how visitors would move through the Pacific Visions experience, and what they can expect to experience in each part of the whole.
↳ Overview of original concept art and storyboards that were used to pitch the Aquarium’s project to design studios.
The Aquarium brought me on board to lead research and development for the inaugural exhibition in their art gallery. At my disposal, I had information that the Aquarium already made public about Pacific Visions, the architectural plans for the expansion, and an open-ended prompt from Aquarium President and CEO, Jerry Schubel. Otherwise, I was completely on my own!
Based on the design framework that I drew up from my research, I ultimately created concept art and storyboards for an immersive installation that utilizes interactive projection mapping.
Why immersion? Because the Aquarium is an immersive space by nature. Short of diving into the water, the Aquarium is the closest a person can get to the Pacific Ocean. The Art Gallery would take that sense of immersion one step further—from physical proximity, to fundamental and dynamic connection to the World Ocean and the life in it. Speaking from a UX perspective, using immersive techniques in the Art Gallery also gives visitors a soft introduction to the immersive quality of the theatre later on in the Pacific Visions experience.
The installation concept I pitched captured the interest of a number of design studios, including Convivial Studios who went on to carry out the installation. It was the foundation for the Aquarium to forge new relationships with emerging design + technology studios that would have otherwise not been on their radar. Although the subject of the installation has since focused to a subset of the original theme, Convivial Studio has kept immersive format a constant.
I spent multiple days observing Aquarium visitors in the existing space of the Aquarium, making sure to not interrupt their visitor experience so that I could see how different people interact with the space.
↳ Screenshots of Images of Change and Eyes on the Earth, interactive applications developed by NASA to help visualize data about how the Earth changes over time. Source: NASA
In order to find out the ways in which science communication and artistic visualization + expression already intersect, I conducted interviews with Dan Goods and Kevin Hussey at Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) for their expertise in science communication and artistic data visualization.
↳ Overview of content guidelines for immersive installation, developed in collaboration with Dr. Sandy Trautwein.
COLLABORATION + ITERATION
I also collaborated with Dr. Sandy Trautwein (the Aquarium’s Vice President of Husbandry) to incorporate a more grounded, scientific perspective to my art exhibition/installation concept. Because Pacific Visions at large is an educational platform, it is important that the Art Gallery communciates factually.
Based on Dr. Trautwein’s input, as well as the input of the Aquarium’s leadership, I iterated on my immersive installation concept so that the main theme was supported by multiple sub-themes so that the design studios could narrow in on one theme in particular if they wanted to.