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The Buzz: Installation Spotlight: The Touch and Feel of Music

Apr 14, 2009 12:00 PM, By Jessaca Gutierrez

The Grammy Museum, Los Angeles

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"[The Crossovers table] just opens up the whole [field]. Instead of just artifacts through glass with a little copy plaque on them, which was the museum quite a few years ago, it's all interactive now—where you can participate, be immersed in the technology. It's actually fun. I'm sure it stops a lot of people and they spend a lot of time there," Panning says.

At the Culture Shock exhibit, guests are once again greeted with technology that goes beyond seeing and hearing. Here, a display is equipped with a custom handle mechanism that guests grasp and slide back and forth to bring up content, such as music by date. The slider has stops that provide guests with different music that they listen to over headphones. When the slider stops at one of these points, a signal is sent over the control system to communicate a video file to play.

"The interface there was pretty clever. We used a Celesco string pot," Panning says. "It's an RS-232 data transducer. It's actually a little blob that, when you pull the string out of it, it counts and it spits out RS-232 serial strings. So there's a physical string that you pull on, and as you pull it out, there's a communication string that it gives to the computer. We tied this to this big handle, so as you move the handle, it's pulling the string in and out of this enclosure and spitting out data to the computer."

The installation went smoothly overall, with the exception of two separate incidents of water damage. "The water incidents were the result of a water fountain installed on the terrace above the fourth-floor control room," Panning says. "On initial energizing of the water [fountain] pumps, the plumbing sprang a leak right above the control room racks as they were just being installed. Several weeks later, during final setup and configuration testing, the 1000-gallon overhead reservoir tank's core-drill drain started leaking and emptying water right onto the racks."

For several hours, until the building contractor could repair the leak, D&P's crew protected the racks with polythene sheeting and blankets. Only four show computers were damaged during the incident, and with a few hours of additional work, the team was able to get everything up and running right on schedule.

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