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19 December 2013

The Birth of Visual Silence

Check out Visual Silence and the other incredible winning prototypes which came out of our first Culture Shift Russia programme at Strelka Institute for Media, Architecture & Design.

ⒸSergey Polishchuk

Culture Shift Russia was a 3-day art lab encouraging open collaboration using the open data provided by four local cultural institutions - the Russian State Library, ZIL (Moscow's largest Cultural Centre), the Nikola-Lenivets Art Park and the Russian Polytechnic Museum. The hack culminated in a showcase of prototypes.

Visual Silence were the winners in the ‘Best overall’ category. Their idea was an innovative navigation scheme for the Russian State Library using light screens and 3D glasses which would be given to all visitors and would permit straightforward navigation through the Library. By extracting the film from old and cheaply available LCD monitors, they were able to create architectural and aesthetically pleasing light boxes that double as interpretation panels when viewed with the special glasses they created. Visitors would be able to read useful information about catalogues and storage, find the particular section of the library they needed and even watch films in waiting rooms.

Their prototype was a response to a major problem in the design and organization of the Library.  People felt that the library was cluttered, unfriendly, and the signage detracted from the experience of an incredible building.


Specially made glasses will ease navigation of the library and add an interactive element to visitors' experience.

Since the lab, the team has had a meeting with the Russian State Library, which supported their initiative, and have submitted a plan of action to develop their prototype further. The prize grant will be shared among the members of the team as a professional fee for their work on the project.

Best Use of Data
Museum Invasion proposed the idea to take a selection of art and scientific objects from the renowned Polytechnical Museum collection and create an exhibition in different areas of their library. There would be a designated exhibition zone called ‘park exhibition hall’ where the visitors could touch, test and experiment with the objects from the Museum. They also proposed a cinema hall/theatre called ‘Polytheatre.’ As part of the project, the team would also aim to redevelop the registration scheme for the library.


'Musuem Invasion' would take items from the Polytechnical Museum and set them up around the Russian State Library.

The team had a meeting with the Polytechnical Museum which strongly supported their initiative. They have weekly meetings where they discuss their project as a working group, and have submitted a budget and action plan. As the budget is more than the British Council grant (which they plan to use to cover the technical support of the project) the team plans will apply for an external grant.

Hacker’s Choice
Nature of Things came up with an action plan to enable the collection of the Polytechnic Museum (which is currently under construction) to reach as wide an audience as possible. There were looking at how to best exhibit the museum's collection and played with ideas of an interactive museum, ways to rejuvenate exhibitions and enter into a dialogue with the audience.

The team developed a programme of exposure for the museum’s collection through varied channels such as PR support, popularisation of science through entertainment and leisure activities and feedback from visitors.


'Nature of Things' hope to increase the number of visitors to the museum through a targeted campaign.

The team has submitted a plan of action to the museum. They have regular meetings to work on the further steps of project implementation. The grant they were awarded will be split among the members of the teams as a professional fee.