I made it to MoMA on Sunday to see the new exhibit, Design and the Elastic Mind. It was amazing. Go see it.
The exhibit is mostly made up of high-tech products which exemplify the fusion of function and form. To be fair, you'd be hard pressed to come up with practical uses for some of the works, some of which were simply sculptures, but the majority were "real" products or ideas presented either as art or in an artistic fashion.
My favorites were the visualizations, of course. The centerpiece was a rotating globe showing all of the communications traffic in and out of New York city, in a typical day. It would zoom in to show, for example, that 8% of calls from a certain block in Manhattan were to Toronto, and 4% were to Paris, then zoom out to show all the different calls as arcs of light circumscribing the globe. It's hard to describe and unfortunately I don't have a picture... (the picture below is for the next paragraph... the telecom globe was infinitely cooler!)
Another cool one used the GPS systems in every San Francisco taxi to show the cars driving around, represented by glowing points of light on an otherwise dark surface. Sped up 20x, 50x, even 200x real-time, the lights danced through what looked like very rigid, predefined patterns. Of course, they were predefined... they were roads. But it looked great. Along the same lines was one which showed airplane traffic in and out of the US. This one surprised me here, since I'd seen it a few months ago...
There was a touchscreen covered in floating balloons which was part of an experiment on visualizing internet dating services. Each balloon contained the introductory "headline" of a single person's profile, and touching a balloon revealed the headline. People had a lot of fun messing with the balloons. There were other modes, with different images and interactivity, but the balloons were the most fun.
A screen was set up, and if you stood in front of it your shillouette was projected onto it -- only it would change. Tentacles, fur, beaks, spikes, etc. etc. would randomly pop out of any projected surface, accompanied by a loud sound effect, stay for about a second and disappear. Any projected "hole" (for example, holding your arms out and touching them to your waist creates a hole) would have a pupil added, becoming an instant eye. People were dancing in front of this like little kids... and I can't imagine how much fun this would have been for actual kids! Like Kid Pix on crack.
And it went on, and on, and on.
There was another exhibit that actually opened on Sunday on the use and development of color over the last half century. (I think it was called "Color Chart.") It was fairly interesting, but I only had time to stroll through quickly -- I was late for a squash match. You know how it is.