An Interdisciplinary Design Installation

October 1, 2021

Dance of the Digital and Physical: Tyler's interdisciplinary Design Installation

From smart phones to wearable fitness monitors to virtual home assistants, Associate Professor Andrew John Wit and Assistant Professor Christopher Mcadams, who both teach architecture, believe that so much of modern life today blurs the digital and physical worlds. 

That's why it was a natural inclination when they decided to blend these two realms in an interdisciplinary design installation for Temple University’s Tyler School of Art and Architecture at the 2021 Design Philadelphia

“So much of our lives is already digital and physical hybridization. With our phones, watches, home assistants, and endless social media presences, it is often impossible to remove ourselves entirely from the digital world and be truly present in the physical world,” Mcadams said in explaining what intrigued the pair about this approach. “This installation is an opportunity for visitors to confront that and question the ways we live our hybrid lives.”  

Checked In / Checked Out is a dance between the digital and physical, the natural and synthetic, and beckons visitors to physically re-engage with others while experiencing augmented reality in a sleek, quiet and intimate interior space. 

Outside, traditional forms are slightly skewed and materialized through texture, color, and pops of greenery. Reclaimed wood covers a bolted and jointed timber framing that creates two volumes – one studded with plant-filled glass vessels and the other a smooth magenta bench.  

Wrapping the corner, the hue of the bench expands vertically, puncturing the roof and welcoming visitors through a rear entrance. Inside, CNC-milled plywood walls provide a canvas for an enriched sensory experience using time-lapsed imagery around Philadelphia -- including an interface for visitors to alter the projected scenes. 

Wit said he envisioned a collaboration with other Tyler programs, such as metals, glass and horticulture, demonstrating the intersectionality of art and design disciplines and the ways in which these connections can redefine the built environment. 

“We aimed to create an interactive project that brought people together,” said Wit. “We were also interested in giving the project and its materials the ability to have future lives, by sourcing natural materials such as timber and reclaimed wood and assembling them in a way that allows for easy disassembly and reuse." 

At Tyler, graduate and undergraduate students can pursue degrees and certificates within 22 academic programs ranging from traditional studio arts such as painting, sculpture, ceramics, and glass to printmaking, graphic and interactive design, fibers and material studies, architecture, historic preservation, landscape architecture, horticulture, art history, art education and art therapy, facilities management, city and regional planning and community development. 

“It is important to emphasize the importance of interdisciplinary collaboration within our work,” said Wit, who believes the study and practice of art and design already inhabit similar space. “We just need to remove the walls that make collaboration difficult. We have seen the potential exponentially grow here within Tyler over the past few years, and we hope to continue pushing it further. Innovative work cannot be created within a vacuum.” 

Checked In/Checked Out is on view at Cherry Street Pier as part of Design Philadelphia from October 6–17, 2021. An opening reception will be held October 12, 2021 from 5–7:00 p.m. EST. Visit our calendar listing for more information.