July 24: “Talk to Me”

An interactive show opens at MoMA.


Interactives with attitudes, computers masquerading as pets, and machines that sing, sting, and stink are sure to enliven New York’s Museum of Modern Art with the opening of “Talk to Me” (July 24 to November 7). From MetroCard readers to a Rubik’s Cube with braille for the blind, the objects on view, says curator Paola Antonelli, “don’t just sit still—they react. They’re like pets.” Despite the inclusion of the kind of screens you swipe and pinch, the exhibition is, in many ways, the anti-Apple show: Beyond sleek surfaces and neutral colors, Antonelli, MoMA’s design doyenne, shows us a world of quirky, even opinionated technological artifacts. “It’s about communication, from screens that tell you where you are when you touch them to machines that ask you exactly what you want and respond.” Her favorite? An electronic girdle (above left), “like a chastity belt,” that anyone, including men, can strap on to experience the pain of menstruation. Antonelli calls it “unexpectedly beautiful.” We’ll take her word for it.