“Talk to Me” at MoMA New York: Design and Communication

Entrance to the "Talk to Me" exhibition at MoMA in New York City.

First, a caveat about the small but lively exhibition "Talk to Me: Design and Communication between People and Objects"  just opened on the third floor of the Museum of Modern Art: if you spend any time looking at design websites, blogs or tumblrs, you've probably already seen a lot this online. We're kind of obsessed with that corner of the Internet ourselves, and were familiar with about two-thirds of the clever, crazy, creative things at the MoMA's "Talk to Me" show. That said, we still had a great time over the weekend at "Talk to Me", playing with the games and listening to and watching the videos and seeing other people — especially the many kids in attendance — discover all the cool stuff on display here. 


A view of the Kracie Kinzer Tweenbot at "Talk to Me" at MoMA in Manhattan.

Man looking at the Metrocard Kiosk exhibit at "Talk to Me" at MoMA in New York City..

The MoMA's "Talk to Me" exhibition focuses on objects and projects that facilitate or demand or subtly persuade the communication between people and the material world. And so there is plenty of industrial design here — cell phones, furniture, the MTA's instantly-iconic MetroCard kiosk — as well as information systems, video games, web interfaces and a ton of just really interesting items that may have no real practical purpose (yet!), but definitely get you thinking. And even though the gallery space isn't that large, the MoMA's "Talk to Me" has nearly 200 separate pieces on exhibition, many of which will engage you for far longer than a quick glance, and so it's very easy to spend upwards of an hour looking through it all. 

A collection of graffiti artist's letter S.

We liked a ton of things at the MoMA's "Talk to Me" show, but a few of our favorite items would include Evan Roth's Graffiti Taxonomy, which is fascinating if you're a fan of street art — Roth shows the different ways dozens of artists write each letter of the alphabet — and helpful if you're just trying to figure out what it says; Talking Carl by Yann Le Coroller, an iPhone app that the MoMA's has installed on a big screen in the entrance hallway to the "Talk to Me" exhibition, and which repeats, loudly, whatever you whisper into its "ear", and jumps and flips around at your touch; Kracie Kinzer's Tweenbot, which relies on the charitable contributions of passers-by to keep functioning; and the Devices For Mindless Communication by Gerard Rallo, designed to help you keep up with inane small talk without having to actually pay attention. 

People playing iwth touch screens at the "Talk to me" exhibition at MoMA.

Screenshot of the social media slingshot at MoMA in New York.

There's lots more, too, at the MoMA's "Talk to Me" exhibition. Sascha Nordmeyer's Communication Prothesis Portraits show the hilarious results of his invention, a device that exaggerates your facial expressions when talking so that everything you say seems so much more dramatic. Animal Superpowers by Chris Woebken are cumbersome apparatus that offer you the world-perspective of a giraffe, or an ant. Max Weisel's addictive Soundrop is a computer game that allows you to build an endless array of on-screen sound and motion creations. And the crew at VR/Urban show off their awesome SMSlingshot: you type in a note, "shoot" it onto any handy large surface (eg, the side of building), and there's your message, inside a huge light-blob of brightly colored "paint".

A collection of portraits taken with Sacha Nirdmeyer's communication prothesis in the "Talk to Me" exhibition at MoMA in NYC.

Basically, the MoMA's "Talk to Me: Design and Communication between People and Objects" has something for everyone… and because it can be so immersive, and the objects and projects so varied in their purpose and execution, the exhibition offers a lot of education and entertainment for your $20 (soon to be $25!) MoMA admission fee. 

A visitor looks at one of the exhibits at "Talk to Me" at MoMA in Manhattan.

The MoMA's Talk to Me: Design and Communication between People and Objects Details

"Talk to Me" will be at the Museum of Modern Art until November 7, 2011. The MoMA is located on 53rd Street between Sixth and Fifth Avenues, and is open Monday, Wednesday Thursday, Saturday and Sunday from 10:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., and on Friday until 8:00 p.m., when admission is free after 4:00 p.m. Closed Tuesdays. SPECIAL SUMMER HOURS: until September 3rd, the MoMA is open every day, and until 8:30 p.m. on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights. For lots more information about everything, please the MoMA's website, here.


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