“A lot of work in this category seems designed for spectacle, which makes this intimate and enveloping installation stand out.” —juror Ben Hughes
“I was struck by the purposefulness of the installation, defining a space for the experience rather than just applying the experience to a wall, like so many touchscreens do. There is a clear delineation between the input and output surfaces, so as to not complicate where attention should be focused.” —juror Nathan Moody
Overview: Past becomes present in the interactive installation at the Libbie Mill Library in Henrico County, Virginia. Imagining more than just a traditional kiosk in its new space, the library wanted to provide the county’s citizens with an interactive destination where they can learn about the county’s rich history—through the voices of the everyday residents who experienced them. A sculptural wall and table experience deliver the stories of one of America’s oldest counties through first-person storytelling, archival photography and evocative 4K footage of the area today. Community members are not only connected to the invisible history all around them, but also celebrated for their role in shaping Henrico County’s future.
•The installation comprises seven integrated screens and an accompanying touch table.
•A motion graphics piece plays on the exterior of the installation, depicting the county’s evolution.
•The project took eight months to complete.
Comments by Nora Bauman, David Brewer and Jeremy Rotsztain:
What was the thinking behind the navigation structure? “By creating a welcoming semicircular space with deliberate visibility from one side to the other, we ensured users would never feel isolated from the community they’re a part of. Inclusion, connection and accessibility were central themes for this project—after all, history belongs to all of us, and libraries do, too.”
Describe any special interactive features. “We extended the spirit of inclusion, connection and accessibility into our approach to content, opting to tell the stories on the wall in first person. Presenting these narratives from the perspectives of everyday people who experienced them makes Henrico’s history more affecting, relatable and human for modern visitors. They learn about education from Virginia Randolph, who dedicated her life to improving schooling for African Americans in the rural South. They discover the history of transportation in Henrico through Richard Byrd, a local pilot who flew to the South Pole and returned a national hero.”
What software, back-end technology and programming languages were used? “We programmed the front-end graphics, networked animations, and touchscreen interactions in C++ and OpenGL using the openFrameworks toolkit for creative coding. We used the Most Pixels Ever library to synchronize content across the seven screens. Content in the experiences is managed with a custom content management system built using Ruby on Rails. The displays are Planar Clarity Matrix LCDs.”