Roxann Riskin, a technology specialist at Fairfield University and eCampus News contributor, writes a special op-ed on the NYC Glass Museum Event which she attended on April 28

google-glass-appsWhile wearing the Google Glass device, many of my experiences have focused primarily on subjective perspectives, like taking pictures, for instance.

This is mainly because that part of the Glass design feature is currently from a first-person point of view. Recently, I had an extraordinary opportunity to look at things from a different vantage point, using a newly created Glass App, at a museum event hosted in New York City.

I was excited to immerse myself in a first-of-its-kind visually augmented experience with art.

Also, to embrace a new connectivity with art objects that I hoped would spark some educational conversations about art experiences and wearable technology i.e. John Dewey’s, Art as an Experience (1934). So both personally and educationally, I was optimistic about attending the special event in the city!

On April 28, Katy Kasmai, founder of the Glass NYC Meet-Up, organized an evening event called “The Art Gallery Experience Through Glass” at the Gallery at the BGC (Bard Graduate Center), located on 18 West 86th Street in Manhattan. Being a new member of the Glass NYC, I had great expectations for the upcoming event. I soon received an email with instructions to perform on Glass what is called a “side-loading” installation for a specifically developed museum app.

(Next page: Google Gallery App in practice)

On April 28, BGC Waterweavers Welcome Google Glass. Watch the video here.

Thousands of apps are available, but this unique type of Gallery App was designed only for the Glass device, and exclusively for the museum’s Waterweavers exhibit event. With that said, this new app can be defined as a type of docent app which is the creation from the brilliant minds of professionals Han Vu, Media Producer BGC Films at the Bard Graduate Center, and Zack Freedman, Founder of Voidstar Lab.

They teamed up with the Gallery at BGC-NYC and Glass NYC to develop an interactive, modern image recognition app to be used with Glass for an art gallery exhibit called Waterweavers: The River in Contemporary Colombian Visual and Material Culture.

Because of Glass’s image recognition technology, using the Gallery App was very eye friendly. For example, when an art gallery object was viewed, it became immediately recognizable. Information was instantly populated onto the Glass, right eye screen, (OHMD- Optical Head Mounted Display). Then by swiping or tapping the frame, the choices available ranged from seeing the information in static text, or pictorially, providing for a personalized interactive experience.

Serendipitously, as the event unfolded, I was included in the first of three groups and gained immediate entry into the exhibit. Upon entering the gallery, I ascended up three flights of stairs where to my eye’s delight the Gallery App activated, and began downloading the entire Waterweavers gallery of about 350 photographs. The first art piece that I viewed was from a perspective without the Glass, using only my eyes.

Actually, I was looking upward at 21 pieces of primary colored, luminary type of lanterns, dangling from the ceiling. Then, using the advantage of the Gallery App via Glass it recognized the lamps and simultaneously displayed a similar photograph followed by this text-based descriptive information; The PET Lamp Project by Alvaro Catalan de Odón in 2013 made from recycled plastic, metal fiber, and wool lanterns.

While exploring the gallery with my Glass NYC associates, my mind’s eye began synthesizing the art information from the Gallery App with the present art objects, including, drawings, ceramics, graphic designs, furniture, textiles, video, and installations.

Collectively, seeing the Columbian River’s cultural art in this way was a transformative learning experience. Gallery App developer, Zack Freeman, conveyed in his words, “I tried to write the App to be as close as possible to a patient human docent following you around, and answering your questions.” Indeed, this frame of reference now became a new type of “augmented,” and enhanced point of view.

So on this special April evening, perhaps those who came have seen a glimpse at the future of museum apps. In retrospect, I see things quite differently now. The fusion of innovative technology with cultural material art was synchronistical. I am now recalling the idiom “seeing is believing,” and in fact, it was confirmed to be true that night.

Further reading:

Waterweavers: The River in Contemporary Colombian Visual and Material Culture Curated by José Roca with Alejandro Martín.

The Waterweavers Exhibit was designed for the advancement of art education and is part of the not-for-profit activities of the BGC Gallery.

GLASSNYC – Waterweavers Photos

Art App:

Special Thanks to the BGC of NYC, and Glass NYC Community.

Roxann Riskin is a technology specialist/supervisor at Fairfield UniversityFollow her on Twitter @roxannriskin.