ken goldberg + gil gershoni: are we there yet? contemporary jewish museum, san francisco, USA on now through july 31st, 2011

‘are we there yet’, an interactive sound installation by US-based artists ken goldberg and gil gershoni

the worlds of cultural tradition and technology mediation are brought together in ‘ar? w? th?r? y?t‘ (‘are we there yet?’) an interactive sound installation by american artist ken goldberg and israel-born, california-based sound designer gil gershoni, created for the contemporary jewish museum in san francisco.

upon entering the gallery space, a visitor is instantly confronted with spoken questions–articulated in myriad diverse voices– emanating from one of several small white speakers lining the room’s floor. motion detecting cameras and custom software detect the movement of individuals through the space, prompting a cascade of questions from each speaker that the visitor passes in succession. pauses between each track encourage contemplation and reflection, while the voices cease completely when the visitor stops walking, making the gallery a kind of aural representation of the visitor’s own physical engagement.

questioning is central to the jewish spiritual identity, and as goldberg explains, ‘[the installation] is about searching for meaning, not getting to the answer, but getting to the next question. it’s about raising questions, thinking about them, and asking more questions.‘

the questions themselves are taken from not just historical documents and the jewish torah and talmud, but also popular culture and the input of visitors and web participants. a touchscreen in the gallery space invites viewers to enter their own questions, while a dedicated website, free iPhone app, and twitter feed feature the questions asked as well as permit users to enter their own.

walk-through of ‘are we there yet’ and discussion with the artists

the contemporary jewish museum elaborates: ‘‘are we there yet?’ is located in the museum’ soaring yud gallery. the yud acknowledges the 2nd commandment, which forbids the creation of idols and representational images. the space emphasizes the auditory over the visual and is linked with kabbalistic symbolism. this unorthodox environment led artists goldberg and gershoni to think about interactions between embodied movement, auditory perception, and the process of questioning.‘

are we there yet? at the contemporary jewish museum view of the yud gallery

are we there yet? at the contemporary jewish museum each speaker broadcasts questions as a visitor walks by it

are we there yet? at the contemporary jewish museum the website showcases questions and invites users to submit their own

some questions from the exhibition, ranging from the funny to the profound, the mundane to historical to spiritual:

how did we get here? where in the present lies the past? is that your final answer? your place or mine? who watches the watchers? when will I fall in love? where do we go when we die? how many invisible beings are in this room now? can I return this? what should I do with my VHS tapes? et tu, brutus? who will know? does anybody really know what time it is? do you remember me? are you sure?

video of ‘computer vision’ depicting (clockwise from top left): visual tracking system, audio space map, audio speaker distribution, and question feed supporting code is available on the project’s google code site

are we there yet? at the contemporary jewish museum

infiniti digital art competition currently, designboom in collaboration with INFINITI is offering an international competition asking participants to design spectacular or interactive digital artworks,to be installed and displayed throughout europe. participation is open to applicants from every country in the world: to professionals, students, vjs, and design-enthusiasts.

registration is free and now open, through july 8th, 2011. for more information about the competition and how to register, click here.