Data as Art, as Science, as a Reason for Being
Inside the exhibition the interactive screens also show a wide range of images and information. You read about the invention of a fluid microchip in 2009 and see a 19th-century London map charting a cholera epidemic. A jar ornamented with dragons is described as a second-century Chinese seismograph. (Stones drop from the dragons’ mouths in response to vibrations.) Brief interviews can be sampled with such disparate subjects as Glenn D. Lowry, the director of the Museum of Modern Art, and William J. Bratton, the former New York City police commissioner.
But what is this show meant to be? Partly, it is corporate public relations. We learn about I.B.M.’s astonishing accomplishments over a century, its researchers creating what is now commonplace: UPC bar codes, magnetic strips holding data on cards, computer hard drives. I.B.M. scientists have received Nobel Prizes, performed molecular prestidigitation and won chess and “Jeopardy!” games with pioneering examples of artificial intelligence.
The exhibition is also meant to demonstrate I.B.M.’s vision of the world while defining its mission to the public, for it is no longer an office machine company or the maker of the world’s best electric typewriter (the Selectric), or the designer of mainframe computers, or even the manufacturer of the once-ubiquitous IBM PC.
The corporation is now, we learn, concerned with matters far more difficult to define. Its ambition is not just determined by its founder’s blunt motto, “Think,” but by the bland slogan used to name the company’s centennial history book, which appears throughout the show: “Making the World Work Better.” Along the data wall, some of those achievements are heralded: reduced crime, improved energy usage, healthier rivers, better air quality, safer food.
I.B.M. also sees this exhibition as a kind of milestone, meant to reveal to visitors something about the cutting edge of computer applications. The company’s material points out that this is the first show it has created since its pavilion at the 1964 World’s Fair, where the exhibitions were designed by Charles Eames (who a few years earlier had created, with his wife, Ray, a landmark exhibition, “Mathematica,” for I.B.M. that after a half-century is still impressive and readily sampled at major science museums). (...)». O texto completo.