The Wolff Project was an interactive installation produced as part of the Synaesthetic Spaces studio in the Design and Technology department at Parsons. The New School, which Parsons is a part of, was planning to tear down the Graduate Faculty building located at 65 Fifth Ave. in Manhattan which has held classrooms and faculty for the New School since the 1960's. This was the first major building purchased by the school since it's inception as the "School of Exile" in the 1930s. It earned this moniker after its founding by a group of German-Jewish professors who were fleeing prosecution before World War II.
The team (James Senior, Eric Nunez, Yasmine Almachnouk, and myself) decided to produce an interactive installation about the history of the New School inside the renown Wolff Conference room. The conference room is inside the G.F. building and the installation was meant to honor the founders and the building which was being replaced.
Wolff conference room.
We sought out to gather historical materials and found that there was no central archive for historical images or recordings. We had to visit many different offices and faculty in order to begin building the audio and visual assets necessary for the installation. Interviews were conducted with existing faculty about the New School and the relevancy of its founding principals.
While researching the available historical assets we began investigating the space in more detail and designing the installation. There were dissertations by previous students housed in the room, so as a metaphorical tie-in we decided to build electronic books that, when opened, would engage the interaction. We decided to project a collage of the historical images and people we had gathered against the curtains of the room, which was also visible from the street and would serve to draw people in. This was also supported metaphorically by the New School's mission to reach out and serve the public. While the projection was running the audio interviews we recorded would also play continuously in the room.
Proposed design of the installation.
Projections against the room curtains. Another view of the projections and historical images.