Interactive media in my Happy Meal toys

In most instances, the mention of interactive media conjures up images of clicks and hyperlinks on an online stage. And for the most part, this mental image is pretty accurate.

But every once in a while, a McDonald’s toy from your childhood or a classic Time magazine collection will challenge your idea of interactivity in the media. Such was my experience at the Elsewhere Artists Collaborative in Greensboro, a verifiable time capsule jolting me back to the fabrics and underpinnings of a day when concrete things were king.

For the past 58 years, Elsewhere has been building an interactive conversation installation, complete with video, art, sculpture, photography, paintings, sounds, performance- and yes, McDonald’s toys.

Upon entering the museum, guests can transport back in time to their grandmother’s living room or maybe their parent’s back porch.

Elsewhere boasts that guests “encounter an ongoing happening produced by artists that interweaves intention and chance, artists and artwork, museum and everyday life.”

Rather than packaging art in clear-cut frames lined neatly in a gallery, Elsewhere allows audience members to constitute art from the framework of their minds. I can walk up and down the halls and abstract what is meaningful and obviously intentional to me, something that will differ drastically from anyone else’s experience.

A glimpse of an age-old black and white photo next to an ancient tea cup, a dusty Barbie doll and shelves of musty things called “books”—this is my personal collage. The collaboration between artists has created something entirely new that I can appreciate in a way that no one else can. For once, I can construct my own story from my very own tactile experiences and interactions.

This is the rudimentary beginning of what is today’s fancy flash sites and high-tech videos. I would encourage anyone interested in interactive media or design to visit Elsewhere, or somewhere like it – to keep in mind the physical beginnings of a world that is slipping deeper into our figurative imaginations.

Visit Elsewhere’s Web site to read more about this unique museum experience.


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