Museum of Almost Realities
• November 10-12, 2017 for the School of Poetic Computation, NYC
• March 30, 2018 at the Seattle Art Museum, SAM Remix
Python, Raspberry Pi, thermal printer, artifacts
The Museum of Almost Realities is an immersive experience in which visitors are invited to explore a section of a fictional museum collecting objects from an “almost reality”. Based on the concept that objects hold memory, the museum presents a “collection of artifacts from the life you might have had.”
The installation begins in a small gallery setting, where visitors are greeted by a docent and asked for their name. They are then invited to browse through a collection of seemingly mundane yet meaningful artifacts, with captions written in the second person - the license plate of the car that didn’t hit you, the keys to your apartment in Boston or New York or California, the stuffed animal you lost in preschool, the collar of your future dog. Subtle exhibition details, such as the museum’s generative logo or select mirrored displays, reward observant visitors.
Participants are also invited to release their own regrets and what-ifs by donating artifacts or written text to the collection. As they exit, they are given a personalized generated receipt of their “almost reality”, with details about how their alternate selves fared in career or love, along with a small suggestion about how they could change their present. The museum has a companion website, AlmostRealities.org, which includes an audio tour and further wings of the museum.
The Museum of Almost Realities was created out of the artist’s interest in exploring the relationship between objects, memory, and what-if’s, a deeply personal alternate-reality autobiography made physical. This piece invites the visitor to contemplate how we curate our own personal narratives, and acknowledge the importance of what we choose to keep, remember, and let go.
This installation was initially done for the School for Poetic Computation Fall 2017 showcase, and was most recently shown at the Seattle Art Museum (with the Possible Futures Play Area and Library for Future Happiness additional wings) for one-night only.
Photos by Filip Wolak, Ann Fu, and April Soetarman