Nowadays, ou tech devices are faster and slimmer than ever before, while the collection of bulky, outdated computers serve as an amusing — and often evocative — look into the past. That’s the goal of The Interface Experience, an exhibition at the Bard Graduate Center‘s Focus Gallery in New York, as the exhibit aims to ignite that nostalgia with a myriad of vintage machines. Kimon Keramidas, curator and director of the digital media lab, hopes when people interact with this aging technology that they can think critically about how those devices led to their current devices. What’s also interesting is that unlike the “off-limits” display strategy of most museums, the machines at the exhibit aren’t behind glass and are working, as well as overhauled with custom programs to initiate exchanges between the user, the software and the hardware itself.
The exhibit chronicles the highlights of the journey of computers from laboratories to personal living spaces, along with items like the evolution from the 1982 Commodore 64 (the best-selling standalone computer of all time) to the 2010 Microsoft Kinect, along with the journey of personal digital assistants from the PalmPilot to the iPad 2. Keramidas and his team of students bought up these computers and mobile phones on eBay for two years, spending roughly $6,200. The idea was to find machines that were notable and ubiquitous during their lifespans, and out of the 25 items on display, five core machines are installed in a circle the center of the exhibition space.
Keramidas states that:
“It was interesting to see what stuff people like to save, how they sell it, how they tell a story of how great it is. They use nostalgia as a tool. They each represent a historical development of interface experience.”