In a soaring room on the second floor of the Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco, a camera is following your every move.
It's not a security camera, though. It's a customized cam that instantly identifies your position in the room, and based on that, directs audio to you.
The audio, in this case, consists of questions, and lots of them, projected over the extensive sound system: "Can we talk?" "Do you love me?" "Is that all there is?" "When does life begin?" "Do you feel lucky?" "How big is the step between believing and knowing?"
Such queries--gleaned from Jewish scripture and popular culture, among other places--are at the heart of "Are We There Yet? 5,000 Years of Answering Questions with Questions," a reactive sound installation meant to explore the history and future of curiosity in the context of Jewish tradition and beyond. The exhibit opens March 31 and runs through July 31.
"As you move through the space, the camera detects your motion and the sound is delivered exactly to where you are, so you're almost swimming in an auditory sea of questions and voices," Gil Gershoni, one of two local artists who conceived of the exhibit, told CNET. "But it is very specific to your behavior in the space and creates a very personal experience."
As visitors proceed farther into the Yud Gallery, for example, the questions they hear through one of 20-plus speakers on the floor and overhead become more contemplative. The queries are presented in voice-overs by more than 30 people, including NPR personalities.
"The questions are intended rhetorically. It's not about answering them, but about considering the questions and what perceptions and ideas those lead to," said Ken Goldberg, an artist and professor of robotics at UC Berkeley who created the exhibit with Gershoni. "It's important for all of us to keep asking questions. Like friction, they provide the resistance that pushes us forward." … Read more