MOD. Museum of Discovery

Before heading back home, we’ve allowed some time to explore the museums and galleries in Adelaide. One I was particularly excited to visit is MOD. (part of the University of South Australia). According to their website, MOD. is “a futuristic museum of discovery.” It is a place where science, art, and innovation intersect to create thought-provoking exhibitions. Nothing brings me more joy in a museum than seeing science and art combined. It creates a space for fascinating conversations and truly amazing work. The exhibitions at MOD. are designed for those aged 15 to 25. However, if you are outside this age bracket I’m sure you will (like me) still enjoy engaging with the exhibitions. This post will follow my journey through MOD. and reflect on some thoughts I had along the way.

Invisibility

On entering the building, the first exhibition you are directed to is titled Invisibility. This is an exhibition that aims to highlight what cannot be seen. Sidenote – what I really enjoyed in each exhibition space are the questions that prompt you to think deeper about what you are going to see. For the first installation, Shadows of Light, the question asked is: are you real in a virtual space? When you step into the space you are surrounded by large digital screens. Eventually, you see yourself as an almost shadow of light, walking across the screens. This figure mimics your movements but it doesn’t quite seem real. I was really fortunate to be alone in this space and took the opportunity to move around and have some fun thinking about how real this digital figure seemed.

The next room is super interactive. It contains a giant globe in the centre with images rotating slowly around. At first, the globe displayed a sliding scale tracking carbon emissions between 2000 and 2016. There is an interactive screen where you can change the image. For example, you can set it to show a satellite image of Earth or the human influence on marine ecosystems. Such an interesting and impactful way for people to physically see changes to the planet over time.

Around the perimeter of the room are a series of touch screens displaying the ocean. As you can see in the photograph below, this includes fish and coral. Also, it shows rubbish. Similar to the globe, it physically displays the human impact on the environment. Each time you touch the screen the digital water ripples and the fish or jellyfish swim away. Overall, this area of the Museum achieved its goal by taking a huge issue and making it approachable through interactives. This has great potential for increasing awareness and overall impact.

Moving out of this space you come across Kudlilla – an interactive touch screen showing the story of the Kaurna Meyunna (Aboriginal custodians of Adelaide) season of Kudlilla (wet season between July and August). This touch screen is stunning. I loved unlocking the different elements of the story and seeing it come to life through beautiful graphics. I’ve included a picture of the first screen I touched. As soon as I placed my hand on the screen a kangaroo jumped across and a piece of the story was unlocked.

Before heading to the second level of the Museum, I walked through the final space of the Invisibility exhibition titled The Glass Room. Here, there is a focus on how our devices track our daily lives. There are some intriguing objects on display including a computer showing the Hidden Life of an Amazon User by Joana Moll. Moll tracked the interfaces behind her Amazon purchase, revealing how much secret code there is when you shop online. A highlight in this space is the area where you can download some helpful data detox guides. These guides are genuinely helpful, tackling issues such as controlling your data and changing your default settings. Why I particularly liked this addition is because it balances out the terrifying things you learn (e.g. how much you can be tracked online) with some actions you can take. Display the problem, then offer some solutions or guidance.

Second Level

I am going to focus on two interactives – Mirror Ritual and A Perfected Face. Here the question is posed: what do algorithms reveal about you? I love interactives in museums. I will constantly argue that they shouldn’t just be for kids. Adults need some time to interact too!

Mirror Ritual

For this interactive, you sit on a stool and look into a mirror. After about a minute, a poem appears, reflected back at you, attempting to guess how you are feeling. The whole point of the interactive is to make you think about algorithms and whether or not they can read our emotions. I really liked the poem generated for me. Mostly because the word coffins features. I have a predictable aesthetic.

A Perfected Face

If you really want to deep dive into algorithms then make sure you don’t miss this interactive supported by the Science Gallery Melbourne. After scanning a QR code, you have your photo taken and it guesses things like your age, how humble you are, how intelligent you are, and other characteristics. It then asks you if you want to be programmed and the end result is quite amusing to see. A good reminder that artificial intelligence might not always get everything right.

Logistical Information

If you are looking for a more interactive museum in Adelaide then I highly recommend MOD. It is open from Tuesday to Saturday, 10am to 5pm. It is accessible and there is a great video on this webpage that goes into more detail: https://mod.org.au/visit/accessibility/. It’s in the city centre of Adelaide – very convenient location. I would dedicate about an hour to visit – maybe a little more if it’s busy. You want to make sure you have time available to wait and try the various interactives.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s