The New Media team had a chance yesterday to check out Yerba Buena, a very cool multidisciplinary institution across the street from SFMOMA. I would love to go and catch a performance or a film there, but at the time only the galleries were open. It was an interesting experience to go into an exhibition that wouldn’t be out of place at the Walker — and immediately start looking around for context. It made me realize a bit more how different it is when you work at the institution: we’re surrounded by build-up for months, we can’t help but picking up tidbits of interpretive material and context and stories. I think our audience approaches the show much more like we did at Yerba Buena – “Cool! Um, what?”
Which is why I was so happy to find that they have a cellphone-based audio guide! They’re using Guide By Cell, and the interface is very bare-bones, really just a welcome menu. Some of the audio quality (true with some of Art on Call as well) was spotty and hard to understand, and some of it also sounded like the artist had simply called into the system to record their comments. I love the immediacy of that connection, the ability to rapidly update content, and the informal comments it generates. Very cool.
The other exciting thing for me was their “Shotgun Reviews”: they have several kiosks right in the galleries inviting comments on the exhibitions, and the reviews end up on the web. I didn’t leave a comment so I’m not sure if they’re moderated, but it seemed to have gotten a fair bit of use. I’m not sure if we could pull off a similar concept, but it was refreshing to see that much trust in their users, since that’s been a strong theme at MW2007 so far.