Digital Natives was a practice-based research project experimenting with the junctions of anthropological research, participatory design, and interactive technologies. The project addressed a generation of young people raised in a digital era, surrounded by new media and information technologies, and whose life worlds are distinct from those of previous generations, mentally, socially, and culturally. The project explored these young people’s cultures, identities, and communication practices in a local setting, and experimented with new ways of representing and interacting with these cultures in the context of a concrete art/culture exhibition experiment. The aim was to create an interactive exhibition experiment in collaboration with a group of young people (aged 16-19), which explored and expressed the lives and cultures of digital natives in Aarhus, in the year 2010.
Digital Natives was created through the creative collaboration between young people, anthropologists, and interaction designers, over the extended period of nine months. The exhibition included four digital installations, as seen below – DJ Station, Google My Head, Digital Sea and Portraits.
The 2013 exhibition was held as the culmination of a long-term research effort involving a group of young people. The core of the exhibition is a collection of digital material from these young peoples lives in the form of Facebook updates, text messages and pictures.
DJStation is an interactive and audiovisual installation based on a tangible user interface with fiducial tracking. The DJ Station allows the user to interact with the musical universe of the seven digital natives involved in the project, while getting first hand experience with the remix and mash-up cultures that are hallmarks of the digital native generation.
Google My Head
In the Google My Head installation, the audience is encouraged to browse in a repository of seven Digital Natives Facebook updates, pictures, SMS messages and videos on a multi-touch table to reflect upon their own relationship to digital nativesness. While browsing in the large amount of digital material and choosing digital fragments of special interest, the audience can upload their own opinion about Digital Natives. The statements made by audiences are displayed as an integrated part of the exhibition.
‘Portraits’ is an interactive video installation that invites participants to explore the world of a girl and her passion for books and a boy and his fondness for photographing. The films were created by two young girls from the Digital Natives project, giving a personal glimpse into the dreams and self-representations of the young generation. The movement of the audience controls the timing and selection of clips, playback speed and coloring of the visuals, ranging from subtle movements to fast-paced energetic experience. ‘Portraits’ reflects and challenges the relationship between the visitor and the digital natives, leaving the participants with an impression of the digital natives’ passions.
The digital sea is a floor-projected installation in which audiences can explore digital materials from various media and mobile platforms, representing the Digital Natives in the project. Facebook updates, photos, SMS messages and videos float in the sea, and the audience can activate fragments according to their interest. Chosen materials are enlarged and related materials surface with them, representing the infinite grid of digital fragments and connections in the daily lives of the digital generations.
Digital Urban Living, Center for Advanced Visualisation and Interaction, Alexandra Instituttet, Redia, Moesgård Museum, Kunsthal Aarhus.
Smith, R. C., Iversen, O. S., Dindler, C., 2011, “Digital Natives: Creating Emergent Exhibitions through Digital Technologies”, Ciolfi, L., Scott, K., Barbieri, S. (eds.), Rethinking Technology in Museums, Limerick, Ireland, s. 13-25. Article in proceedings
Smith, R. C., Iversen, O. S., 2011, “When The Museum Goes Native”, Interactions (New York), vol. 18, nr. 5, s. 15-19. Journal article