The Playful Interaction exhibit at Rome’s MAXXI museum welcomes us in a playful, colourful, multi-sensorial and interactive environment. This is the result of a timely and fortunate encounter between a company (Alcantara) and an institution (MAXXI). This particular project concludes a three year cycle preceded by Shape your Life (2012) and Can You Imagine? (2011).
The star player is the Alcantara fabric manufactured by the brand of the same name. The fabric in question is highly technological and for this project it was entrusted to the hands and talented creativity of Fabrica, a communications research centre of the Benetton group and the Italian-Japanese duo, Minale-Maeda. These two entities were chosen by MAXXI-Architecture Design curator Domitilla Dardi and Alcantara Art Director Giulio Cappellini, among those realities which endorse an interactive angle in their approach to research.
Alcantara takes on a variety of shapes and uses to depict itself for this project; sweeping across pathways capable of reaching and awakening the viewers’ chords of perception such as touch, sight, smell and hearing. But how? The creative talents at Fabrica introduced large, coloured balls made with Alcantara fabric into an interactive spatial installation to create Pendulum, a piece recalling the Foucault pendulum (created as an experiment to demonstrate the rotation of the earth in simple terms). Visitors are encouraged to swing the large balls back and forth as they eventually collide to produce kinetic energy. This motion and the striking balls activate lights and sounds connected to the fabric as they interact with space through its initial reaction force. Shiver presents strips of Alcantara material covered with needles hanging from the ceiling which turn the spotlights (once again through perceptive stimuli) on the “process” of the industrial processing – in this case – of the material in question.
Minale-Maeda “portraits” Alcantara through olfactory experiences in Essences, compounds, particles. Each visitor is invited to put a flower together using petals, pistils, leaves and stems as well as bottles of perfumes in a quest for olfactory memories. Industrial material is brought back to life through the perception and active participation of visitors in emotional and cognitive stimulus. The colour and playfulness with which all of this takes place incisively breaks the barriers between the work and the viewer, generally a very resistant hurdle when within the walls of an institution. The solutions offered by these installations are technological (Pendulum) or analogical (Shiver and Essences, compounds, particles) and orchestrate a single project in which people, their way of reacting and experiencing space, are at the heart of an interdisciplinary experience. Colours, sounds and tactile sensations penetrate through to the intimate sphere in order to trigger synesthetic experiences in correspondence to sensorial stimulants and responses – the first of which are emotional.
Playful Inter-Action, curated by Domitilla Dardi (MAXXI) and Giulio Cappellini (Alcantara), MAXXI – national museum of the arts of the XXIst century, Rom3, 13 November 2013 – 5January 2014
(1 cover) Playful Inter-action, 2013, installation view, courtesy MAXXI – national museum of the arts of the XXIst century, Rome; (2) Minale-Maed, Essences, compounds, particles, 2013, installation view, courtesy MAXXI – national museum of the arts of the XXIst century, Rome; (3) Frabrica, courtesy MAXXI – national museum of the arts of the XXIst century, Rome