“Planet Digital” expedition

The robot BlessU-2 gives visitors a virtual blessing as they leave the “Planet Digital” exhibition. Photograph: © Evangelische Kirche in Hessen und Nassau

The “Planet Digital” exhibition at the Museum für Gestaltung Zürich invites visitors on an expedition into the universe of digitization. Jointly organized with the University of Zurich, the exhibition presents several projects situated at the interface between design and research. The expedition includes an “out-of-body experience” and takes visitors on a journey to the Congo via an allotment garden.

FRANKA HÜTTCHE

___

We are in the midst of digital transformation — a rapid process that has been ongoing for over seventy years and is increasingly permeating and shaping everyday life. The digital world is no longer a parallel world; every day we switch back and forth between online and offline. What is this doing to us as a society and to our planet? The University of Zurich, Zurich University of the Arts and Zurich University of Applied Sciences (ZHAW) are exploring these fundamental questions. As part of “Planet Digital,” researchers from Zurich’s three universities and international creatives have collaborated on various projects dedicated to closely examining the many facets of digitization. Visitors can discover the projects by moving from one research station to the next.

Identity change, forensics and social injustice

One of the twenty or so projects deals with “embodiment,” where psychology and digitization meet. Wearing VR goggles, visitors can engage in a virtually induced “out-of-body experience,” which enables putting oneself in another person’s position with digital support. Whereas digitization otherwise tends to promote interpersonal isolation, here it creates a completely new kind of connection. A staged allotment garden turns out to be the backdrop for a fictitious murder case. Whoever ventures inside the garden shed gains insight into using computer technology to solve crimes on a large-scale video installation. A 3D laser scan captures the entire crime scene as a digital reproduction, making the work of forensic scientists easier. In search of the next research station, the visitor’s gaze wanders from a server rack to a pile of electronic waste — the front and back ends of digital progress. One station further, a project carried out jointly by the ZHAW School of Engineering and the design collective Tristesse shows how algorithms often contribute unnoticed to social injustice in healthcare and on the labour market.

The dark side of the cyberplanet

At one of the research stations, visitors find themselves in the Congo. There, where the raw materials for computer chips are mined, lies the source of digitization in the form of precious materials. In a video installation, workers offer insights into the mining of raw materials and its effects, thus drawing the visitor’s attention to one of the dark sides of digitization. “Planet Digital” arouses ambivalent feelings. The exhibited projects illumine the positive aspects of digitization on the one hand, and the dark, and perhaps still unknown downsides on the other. When leaving “Planet Digital,” visitors are blessed by a robot and ask themselves: Digitization, curse or blessing?

“Planet Digital,” until 6 June 2022
Museum für Gestaltung Zürich, Ausstellungsstrasse 60, Zurich
Tuesday–Sunday 10am–5pm, Thursday 10am–8pm
museum-gestaltung.ch

Planet Digital” has been made possible thanks to support from the Mercator Switzerland Foundation and the Digitization Initiative of Zurich Universities (DIZH).

Franka Hüttche (franka.huettche@zhdk.ch) is an intern in the Marketing and Communications Department at the Museum für Gestaltung Zürich.
Teile diesen Beitrag: