“I don’t know about you, but I have caught the travel bug. COVID-19 has taken a toll on everyone’s mental health it seems, and more often I find myself longing to get away. The urge to travel is partially a longing to connect, not just with other people but with the natural world.”–anonymous
COVID-19 has affected the lives of every American in ways we are still grasping to understand. From financial stress to unprecedented changes in school and business, there is nothing our nation has faced quite like this. Now more than ever, people are longing for something to pull them out of the chaos. And now more than ever we need to make wise choices in how we travel. We are longing for opportunities to experience the beauty and to connect with what’s around us.
One of the ways people in the Northwest have increasingly chosen to connect during COVID-19 is through the National Park system. Wyoming, for example, has had some of the lowest numbers of coronavirus cases and deaths in the nation. Their national parks, including Grand Teton and Yellowstone, were able to remain open for the majority of the COVID-19 pandemic with very little outbreaks. Enjoying the great outdoors has become one of the easiest and healthiest ways to be physically distant and remain in-tune with the outside world. The outdoors will remain throughout the winter months.
However, experiences in the outside world don’t have to be limited to the national parks. In a world with an ever-increasing demand for individual, and oftentimes virtual experiences, digital designs are playing a vital role in a physically distanced pandemic America.
Digital designs are one of the most affordable and diverse ways to transform public spaces in ways that would be too cost-prohibitive for traditional capital improvements to take place. For example, holiday tree lightings, modern drive-in theatres, and socially-distanced architectural projection mapping offer the opportunity to set up live experiences with minimal changes to the structural environment. Drive-thru and drive-in live experiences offer the chance to mimic the traditional performance environment without costly overhead or unsafe practices during COVID-19 shutdowns.
Experiential design has been at the forefront of our culture preceding the COVID-19 pandemic. They offer the benefits of a communal social function while allowing individuals to participate from the safety and comfort of their cars, outdoors, or from the comfort of your home. These options offer the blend of privacy and community that many are craving right now. And, there are many other options for virtual live experiences that are just scratching the surface of what we’re able to accomplish within the digital pace.
Join us this holiday season in Cheyenne, Wyoming. Where Cheyenne is bringing the lights to the holidays this year. Alt Ethos will feature two light experiences in Cheyenne this holiday season. On Saturday, November 21st, and Friday, November 27th we light up the Downtown Lighting Celebration through architectural mapping of the train depot located at 121 W 15th Street. That’s not all! From November 21 through January 1st, 2021, come by the Prime Time Holiday Drive-Thru at Blue FCU located at 2401 E. Pershing Blvd, Cheyenne, Wyoming 82001.
The post-pandemic world is undetermined. What do we want to use to shape it, and how will we as individuals and communities contribute? That is the question that digital art and technology can provide if we are confident enough to venture out.
Note: Always follow the recent guidelines from local health and state agencies as well as the recommendations of the CDC to stay safe. If you or someone you spend time with have compromising health concerns, please avoid crowds.
COVID-19 has cost our nation so much in 2020. It has cost many individuals and small business owners their financial security, while others are struggling to cope with major changes in their duties as parents, employees, and leaders. Even for those who have not been directly impacted by loss of income or life, physical distancing limitations have put daily routines on hold and replaced them with something foreign and uncertain.
However, for some of us, these limitations have sparked creativity. Humans crave connection and we need it now more than ever; but our ideas of connection are changing to meet the demands of COVID-19. One of the ways in which this is happening is through the annual Thornton Dia de los Muertos celebration in the City of Thornton.
Traditionally, the Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) is celebrated in Thornton with a festival of food, drink, traditional art, and other activities to celebrate Mexican culture. However, due to COVID-19, the celebration was almost canceled this year. In an effort to replace the live event, the City of Thornton reached out to Alt Ethos to see if we could create something new.
Our team decided that instead of looking to replace the event with a substitutional virtual experience, we’d create something entirely new. We created a hybrid design that allowed for flexibility in a time of changing circumstances. Due to the increasing COVID cases in Adams County, our hybrid event that included the drive by in the park projections paired with an interactive online engagement easily into an engaging multilayer online experience on short notice. The event information was changed and with ease we have maintained the community engagement through this important event.
We are happy to announce that this year, from November 1-3, you’ll be able to enjoy Dia de los Muertos in a virtual interactive art experience from your home and engage in real-time with friends and relatives.
We’ve created an easy browser accessible app that allows participants to create collaborative works of art from any connected device. We present a live drawing tool that lets guests create fluid visual art virtually, in real-time, and in collaboration with other users. All artworks will be themed in traditional Dia de los Muertos styles, but feature modern concepts from at-home artists in Colorado. By using trusted technologies in modern ways, we are able to keep these traditions alive. All this while enjoying dancing and mariachi music.
Community engagement doesn’t have to be put on hold because of COVID-19. In fact, Alt Ethos is able to create 4x the participant engagement via virtual events as compared to traditional live events. Our original design included a drive by/park experience, but due to changes in country COVID regulations, we quickly and smoothly modified the project to fit the needs of modern times. Because Thornton residents don’t have to be physically present in order to enjoy the activities, more are able to tune in and make lasting memories and even connect with family and friends that are far away.
Traditional exhibits are losing their luster for modern audiences. In a digital age where everything from your phone to your TV experience is interactive, there is little room for static learning and entertainment. Museums that do not make the paradigm shift into the digital age will fade into the background with the next generation if they haven’t already.
Museums that thrive in today’s educational sectors are proactively changing the way they execute new experiential exhibits. Interactive exhibits are the new forefront in museum expansion, as they encourage exploratory learning in ways that traditional exhibits simply do not.
Shifting your own paradigm is essential to ensure your museum is relevant to younger audiences and local institutions. The “show and tell” structure of most museums is outdated and will be replaced by interactive learning experiences that allow guests to immerse themselves in a new world.
Why Museums Need Interactive Exhibits
Experiential design has opened the doors for museums and historical sites to make deeper connections to patrons and the community at large. An experience that a visitor can remember and connect with on an emotional level is much more powerful than a quote or an image they observe hanging on a wall. As technology expands in the museum and art space, there are more possibilities for education to flourish within the community.
Your museum is competing with many other forms of entertainment, from concerts to festivals, art shows, and more. In order to draw attention outside the realm of school districts, you will need to offer interactive elements that draw in crowds. Whether your experiential design includes art modalities, technology, or unique physical environments, it must offer the same emotional connection that other mediums of digital art provide.
The intertwining of technology with physical environments will make your museum relevant even amidst the ever-growing world of digital entertainment. People want to learn; however, you must engage them in a way that doesn’t produce stagnation.
Tips for Success:
Choosing relevant content. The most crucial element to any experiential design is the subject matter. Even the best design can’t engage an audience if the content itself is not relevant or important to the user. Choosing content that is modern, unique, and relevant to your community is the only way to ensure your experiential designs make an impact.
Releasing control is a good thing. For a long time, the museum model was stagnant, giving all control to the curators and none to the visitors. However, experiential design invites the visitor into a realm in which they can make their own choices, and experience the exhibit or infrastructure in the way that they want. Museums may find it intimidating to allow users to create their own experiences, but the possibilities are limitless when you put education in the hands of those who crave it.
Involve physical activity and social interaction. Physical and social activity help to immerse your visitors into the world that you’ve created for them. Social interaction creates positive feelings and memories associated with your exhibit, which will encourage visitors to plan future visits with friends. Physical activity immerses the user into the exhibit, rather than having them observe and learn, and also instills the memory deeply in the mind. Both of these elements will set your exhibit apart.
At AltEthos, we help museum curators design and develop experiential exhibits that make the museum experience not only relevant, but modern and unique. Our innovative models and forward-thinking mindset help us to create experiential designs that are both educational and immersive. When planning your next exhibit, see what AltEthos can help you achieve.
Alt Ethos and the Fort Collins Museum of Discovery invite you to the grand opening of Soundscape, a real-time audio/visual experience. Step into this immersive exhibit where physical presence creates music and live visuals. The opening coincides with FCMoD’s David Bowie LaserDome event. Tickets for the LaserDome can be purchased here. The opening event is free and open to the public with hor d’oeuvres and non-alcoholic beverages provided alongside a cash bar. The opening will be held on Saturday, June 24, 2017 from 7pm to 10:30pm at the Fort Collins Museum of Discovery.
As you walk through the Music and Sound Lab a mysteriously glowing room catches your eye. Out of curiosity you step inside and soon discover that your position inside the room is creating music in real time. The intimate scale of the room widens below you as you walk suspended in space. The wall pulsates over your coordinates on the floor. As the moments pass, others join in creating an ensemble of organic sound.
This exhibition was conceived through the collaboration of Alt Ethos Experiential Design studio and staff at the Fort Collins Museum of Discovery. Alt Ethos custom designed this interactive exhibition to create a meaningful experience for patrons to learn, reflect, and have fun through hands-on explorations. Visitors control a multichannel sound system and projection-mapped visuals through physical movement.
The Fort Collins Museum of Discovery (FCMoD) is a history and science museum filled with interactive exhibits and fascinating artifacts which tell the stories of Northern Colorado. The museum creates meaningful opportunities to connect body movement to sound through hands-on and collections-based explorations in science and culture.
Alt Ethos is an experiential design studio that synthesizes digital and physical environments into unexpected realities. Alt Ethos are artists, designers, and engineers creating innovative projects for the modern world. They meld various forms of light, sound, and creative technology into shared interactive experiences.
Please join us for the opening of Soundscape, an instrumental environment exhibition. This unique exhibition changes the ways in which we view music and exploration in museums. The opening will be held on Saturday, June 24, 2017 at the Fort Collins Museum of Discovery at 408 Mason Court, Fort Collins, Colorado.
Matt Maes is a Denver animator focused on immersive and interactive technology. He is Chief Influence Officer ofAlt Ethos, Ltd and is also an executive member of the nonprofit organization Denver Arts and Technology Advancement (D.A.T.A.)