– a play experience for art museums

‘Never let me go’ is designed by Karin Ryding who as part of her PhD project explores the concept of critical play from aesthetic and affective perspectives in the context of art and history museums. 

‘Never let me go’ is a two-player experience enabling art museum visitors to spontaneously create a personal experience for a companion, taking place in real time in the museum. The name ‘Never let me go’ actually gives a hint to what the experience is all about. It could be described as a playful tool that uses mobile technology to, for brief period of time, put a person into the hands of someone they trust. As the name perhaps suggests, it plays with agency and intimacy within the context of an art museum.

The players take the roles of an Avatar and a Controller using two connected web apps. The Controller interface consists of a menu with different prompts, questions or instructions that can be sent to the Avatar, who will receive them as pre-recorded voice messages. The content of ‘Never let me go’ is designed to be building blocks for emergent, playful experiences. A variety of content is implemented which can be interpreted differently depending on the situation. In this way, openness and ambiguity are used to give room for curiosity and exploration. This also allows for users to express themselves and decide upon which tone to set on the experience. The idea is that this enables both fun as well as serious encounters with the art and each other.

Credits: Karin Ryding.

Photo by: Johan Peter Jønsson.