Nicholas Frank / Rivard Report
San Antonio’s imagined future will arrive at The DoSeum on June 2, with the opening of Dream Tomorrow Today, an interactive exhibition featuring a time travel element, a participatory video mural, augmented reality, and a world-building game app.
The first exhibition designed and organized by the DoSeum itself, Dream Tomorrow Today is part of the official Tricentennial events calendar and will build on the intent of considering San Antonio’s future possibilities in the context of its past and present.
“This is a moment of reflection” for San Antonio, said Orlando Bolaños, the DoSeum's art education manager. “You reflect on what’s happened in the past and where you’re headed. That’s a family experience, to sit down and plan out your future."
It felt "very natural" for museum staff to offer children and their parents the chance to take part in that process, Bolaños added.
The interactivity of Dream Tomorrow Today began on Feb. 22, with a community input session that brought together children and their parents, educators, artists, and leaders of community nonprofit organizations.
Input from participants will help shape what visitors will experience, said Meredith Doby, DoSeum vice president of exhibits, making the exhibition “of, for, and by our community.”
Councilman Cruz Shaw (D2), whose Eastside district is home to the DoSeum, encouraged the sessions.
“We are thankful that the DoSeum values collaboration as much as we do,” Shaw said in a written statement about the session."The DoSeum’s work to educate our future leaders in a fun and hands-on way is phenomenal."
One hands-on component of the exhibition will allow children to draw as they normally might, with crayons on paper, then scan and immediately include their drawings in an animated, mural-sized video cityscape.
Japanese interdisciplinary creative technology group teamLab designed the video mural installation, along with a floral-themed video slide for children to play on.
New DoSeum artists-in-residence Calder Kamin, an advocate and sculptor from Austin, and Greg Mannino, a San Antonio filmmaker and designer, will contribute immersive installations to the exhibition to encourage hands-on learning and awareness of issues that will affect the futures of San Antonio’s children.
“I’m really interested in art that’s more like a verb rather than a noun,” Kamin said in a PBS edition of Arts In Context devoted to her work. Her idea fits with the DoSeum’s hands-on approach to childhood learning and the goals of its artists-in-residence program, Bolaños said.
Bolaños spoke of a synergy between the hands-on nature of childhood education and socially engaged contemporary art, which he said is “rooted in getting other people involved. That’s something you see in both worlds, so putting them together is a natural thing to do.”
Kamin’s “Time Tunnel” installation will open the exhibition, incorporating imaginative use of recyclable materials. Named a “Net-Zero Hero” by the City of Austin for her “work to educate others about minimizing waste,” Kamin recycles everyday plastic bags into her colorful, hand-woven sculptures of animals and flora.
Mannino will contribute the “Do the Future” design lab, a hands-on workshop posing a multitude of design challenges to encourage problem-solving.
For example, future commuters will be posed a problem, such as how San Antonio's existing street infrastructure will accommodate a growing population, Doby said. Children will then be asked to “design a new way of getting to school in the future" by way of mass transit, bicycle paths, greenways, or methods yet to be dreamed up.
DoSeum education team “discovery leaders” Miguel Garcia and Clint Taylor workshopped a prosthetic-limb design laboratory for children and their parents during the Feb. 22 community input session. As part of the exhibition, the workshop could offer a practical way to connect citizens of Military City USA to creative design solutions for its wounded veterans.
Such practical, real-world solutions are the main reason for the community input sessions, Doby told participants during her introduction to the event. “So you’ve imagined this future, now how are you going to go out and do it? You’re going to do it by using the resources of the community."
To that end, Dream Tomorrow Today will culminate in “Calls to Action,” Doby said, offering “next steps” for parents and children to connect their creative, social-minded energy to the city's nonprofit organizations that offer potential solutions to current problems.
Families interested in prosthetic limb design could connect with a local STEM education program, or a hospital, Doby suggested.
Inspired by Shaw’s vision for community outreach, the list of participating nonprofits so far includes the Leon Valley Public Library, disABILITYsa, Healthy Neighborhoods, Transplants for Children, and the Scobee Education Workshop, among a list of 25 partners. More potential partners will be involved in the upcoming community input session on April 30, Doby said.
The goal of involving community organizations directly in the exhibition serves to empower children and families "to take those next steps” after leaving the exhibit, Bolaños said.
A free, downloadable app will also extend the interactivity and reach of Dream Tomorrow Today. Based on world-building video games, the app will allow children to earn “tiles,” Doby said, to continue building their future versions of San Antonio.
With six core values of Arts and Culture, Health and Safety, Education, Nature, Transportation, and Community informing choices, players will be able to see the results of other players' value-based decision-making as well, she said.
In the exhibition and with the app, Doby said, “You can vote for your values, and see where in San Antonio which values matter most to people.”
The DoSeum will also work with SA Tomorrow to include the data for the City of San Antonio’s 25-year master plan currently in development. To potential participants, Doby said, “Your info is being used to truly inform the future of San Antonio.”
Dream Tomorrow Today will run June 2 through Jan. 6, 2019.