Silhouette Interaction translator

Hyelip Lee, LeeUngno Museum , South Korea, HYUNGI KIM, KAIST, Korea

LeeUngno Museum is the museum dedicated for the Korean famous artist, Ungno Lee. The last exhibition, tilted “LeeUngno, Etranger in West Germany” was a documentary exhibition re- illuminating Goam LeeUngno’s travelling exhibitions in West Germany in the past 1959 years. For this exhibition, a new device was applied to make it more vital and approachable. In our presentation at the Museums and the Web, we will deliver why and how we installed this device, ”Silhouette Interaction translator”, in the museum environment.

Keywords: LeeUngno Museum, Interactive display, Silhouette Interaction, Documentary exhibition


The Lee Ungno Museum is a museum dedicated to the famous Korean artist Lee Ungno. The latest exhibition, tilted “Lee Ungno, Etranger in West Germany” was a documentary exhibition re-illuminating Lee Ungno’s travelling exhibitions in West Germany in 1959. For this exhibition, an interactive device was applied to make the exhibition more vital and approachable. In this paper, we describe how and why we installed this device, the Silhouette Interaction Translator, in the museum environment. In addition, we investigate and discuss visitors’ reactions and opinions of the device. Through the results, we summarized five design points for developing interactive installations.


There are more than a hundred single artist museums in the world; they all have their own issues. The issues are related to these questions; ‘How to maintain vitality? How to refresh it?’ (NewYork Times, 2008) They are trying to make their museums places that people will want to re-visit. For this, single artist museums have tried to construct a relationship with society, encourage research about their artists, educate new generations, and also provide information about the artists to the public(Kino,2008). Among these tasks, applying new technology to the museum environment can be a good method to intrigue visitors, not only for single artist museums, but also for other museums. New interactive technologies are used at museums on site and also online. Especially, the Andy Warhol museum is a well-known single artist museum that applies new technologies. It has implemented various new technologies: Timeweb, Online gallery, mobile apps, etc. (Knutson,2013 / The Lee Ungno Museum has also begun to follow this trend, making a mobile app, using iPads, and holding a contemporary artist exhibition. In addition, we have also tried to put a new interactive item into the exhibition hall.

For the 2014 special exhibition, we made an Interactive device because the exhibition style was documentary, and most of our exhibits were composed of documents like books and newspapers. So, we wanted to modify the materials so that the exhibits would be understandable and approachable for a wide range of visitors, from children to the elderly. Especially as the newspaper articles were mostly written in German, translated versions were needed for non-German speaking visitors. In addition, as a part of the exhibition design, we wished to use enlarged old newspapers as atmosphere design content. As Pallasmaa (2014) mentioned, the function of exhibition design is to create an appropriate atmosphere for a sensitized encounter with the works, themes, or information in question; we hope to make an interaction device that is a part of the whole exhibition, and through that device visitors will be able to have more interest in the related content.

Related works

Exhibition design with interactive tools

There are several ways to apply interactive devices to exhibition design. Especially for documentary exhibitions, we can modify the content using Multi-screen or Table-type device, sensors tracking visitors’ motion, augmented reality, etc. For example, the Real Madrid Museum made a new room, the “Best Club in History” to deliver the club’s history using cutting-edge technologies like a multi-touch large interactive wall ( Gallery One, the entrance of the Cleveland Museum of Art (CMA), is one of the best examples of using various interactive devices in an art museum environment. The museum staff applied personal, group, and public scale devices to attract a diverse range of visitors. During the process, designers, architects, and engineers worked together; they were able to obtain an understanding in advance about the locations of power, data, and technology infrastructure, etc. That helped them to reduce change of the space arrangement, and to locate the device in a proper place (Alexander & Barton & Goeser, 2013). This example shows the importance of cooperative work between designers in different fields when developing interactive installations.

Silhouette interaction

Visual (an Istanbul-based multidisciplinary creative studio) designed the interactive typographic installation titled “In Order to Control”. They selected text about “the threshold [of] ethics and morality”, projecting that text on the ground; when visitors step into the installation, the words on the floor are projected on the wall, following the silhouette of the person. In order to read the text, one needs to move back and forth across the screen, but with an assembly of other people it becomes easier to read. This example deals with multi-user and text oriented content, so we were able to see hints here for the kind of device that we needed.


In cooperation with an interactive device design company, ALMA LOCO, we could design and develop the Silhouette Interaction translator. Table 1 shows the development schedule.

March April May June ~
Exhibition plan/Exhibition design sketch -Interactive device concept-Decide basic interaction method(Kinect sensor, Silhouette interaction) -Practical meeting (5.13)-Sharing all materials-prototype (5.15) -Check the final prototype (6.3)-Install the device and check the operation (6.9) -Cope with program error

        Table 1: Development Schedule

Exhibition hall design : With a plan to use the interactive installation as a key design element, we designed the main exhibition hall. Sketches and plans were drawn to facilitate discussion.(Figure 1) The locations of each item were all subject to change because of the budget and undecided drawings. So, we made more sketches to prepare for potential changes. The main idea of the sketches is to make the simple document be more diverse and fun, so every possible methods, from two-dimension (drawings, books) to three-dimension (map and columns, interactive device), were considered.

Exhibition Design Sketches

Figure 1: Exhibition Design Sketches

Interactive Device Concept : Our exhibition’s theme was “Lee Ungno, 1959 West Germany” and our purpose of using the interaction device was to make the documents more fun and approachable. The interaction device was arranged to make the old materials like newspaper articles become looked fresh and new. It also needs to make to exhibition more diverse and interesting. First, we decided to use old articles and translated texts as contents of the interactive device. With sample texts (Figure 2), we brainstormed some ideas for the interaction method: for example, using a big screen as a background of other related contents (Figure 3) (also to make the contents to become a readable and approachable scale), using floor marks for left-right turning over of pages and extension-contraction, etc.

Text Sample (Original & Translate)

Figure 2: Text Sample (Original & Translate)

Figure 3: Exhibition Design Sketch

Figure 3: Exhibition Design Sketch

Keywords :  After we finally decided to use the installation for our exhibition, our museum staff and the design company staff had a meeting for detailed communication. We decided to use the Kinect sensor to make the interaction simpler than it would be when using any other mediation device. During the discussion, we chose certain keywords to deliver what we had in mind. The keywords were as follows: “Translator, fun, multi-user, not interrupted by passenger, Turn over pages with sound” With these keywords, we determined that using silhouette interaction is the most appropriate. Rather than showing the two sets of content (original and translated) separately, showing them by overlapping layers was considered more fun and meaningful, because visitors can find information through their action. Also, the wide scale of the screen would enable visitors to use their whole body for interaction along with others.

Prototype:  Through developing prototype we could understand and discuss the method. We discussed how to make the content more readable for our visitors. As a result of these discussions, we reduced the amount of translated text and chose a black silhouette for a clear view. Also, we tried to make the afterimage of the silhouette fade slowly.

Figure 4: Prototype in Process

Figure 4: Prototype in Process

Two triangle-shaped buttons for turning over pages were attached in order to help visitors choose whether to turn over the page or not. Also, background music was chosen to help visitors feel the atmosphere of Germany in the mid 20th century. During the preparation of the exhibition, the background was changed from a screen to a gallery wall; that helped us reduce the cost and also gave the exhibition a wider view.


Devices used: Kinect sensor, Projector(7500 ANSI), Computer, Speaker

Additional Details: The depth camera in the Kinect sensor extracts the visitors’ silhouettes, which are recognized in a certain area (pre-designated). Multiple visitors are all trace-able and an optimizing process is conducted to increase the sensor’s recognition rate and to reduce its error rate. To minimize the image cracks at the edges of silhouettes (due to the limitations of the Kinect sensor), we determined that the afterimages of visitor silhouettes would overlap for a certain amount of time.

Figure 5: Final Installation

Figure 5: Final Installation


Visitor research 

We planned to investigate visitors’ reactions toward the interactive device with following questions. (Table 2) The survey targets were randomly selected 30 visitors.

Method Contents
 Observation Visitors’ way of approaching, how they understand the operation method, duration of visit


1) Visitor character (visit count per year, age, sex, visiting method (group/personal)2) Interest – how this installation affects visitors’ interest in the contents and the artist.(Interest in the installation, content, artist)3) Connection with the perception of the Lee Ungno Museum or other art museums (analogous/novel, positive/negative)4) What they have in mind (new technology and Lee Ungno Museum).

      Table 2: visitor research plan


Observation: Mostly, children (elementary) liked the installation and stayed in front of it more than two minutes. They also revisited the installation after viewing the other exhibition halls. Sometimes they used the exhibition as a game tool to compete to determine who could fill up the triangle faster. (There were two triangles for flipping pages). (Figure 6)  Adults with their children (families) also enjoyed and explored the installation. (Figure 7) However, adult groups without children often passed it by, sometimes without even noticing it. Visitors were able to understand and approach the installation when a museum docent or curator explained it, or when other people had already interacted with it. If there was no previous interaction or explanation, visitors often skipped the interactive installation. When there were too many people interacting with the device, the triangle for flipping pages filled up quickly and the pages turned over too often. That gave visitors a hard time focusing on the content.

Figure 6: Observation - Children

Figure 6: Observation – Children

Figure 7: Observation - Family

Figure 7: Observation – Family

Interview (24people – 24 adults, 6 children/ 12 male, 18 female): Parents with small children stayed a long time in front of the installation, so it was easier to ask them for interviews. They mostly gave positive answers for the questions, with some critiques. We also asked them about the effect of the interactive installation on their overall interest in the installation, the content, and the artist Ungno Lee (Using a seven point scale for answers). There was no significant difference between them (F(2,84)=1.59 , p=0.21>.05). However, one noticeable result was the V shaped interest rate that some people showed; there was more interest for the installation itself and for the artist Ungno Lee than there was for the content that the device contained (Adults: 6.13, 5.71, 6.04 / Children: 6.33, 5.33, 5.50 (average)). Compared to adults, children enjoyed the interaction itself more than the content or the other information about the artist Ungno Lee. This was also proven through observation. Children who were too young to answer the interview questions played in front of the installation, moving, dancing, and jumping. The questions regarding connection with the perception of the Lee Ungno Museum or other art museums showed the differences between the visitors, perhaps due to their own prior experiences. However, most people thought that the installation was a positive new attempt; they showed positive views toward the application. Their opinions were as follows:

“The free display form, having various ways of listening and seeing, made the exhibition something that was not boring; rather, it seemed very new.” 

“It was a great new attraction for children. It would be better if the movement were easier to interact with. The flipping over movement and the visitor movement do not matched well. “

“I expect the development of exhibition technology, but hope that the technology will become related to the content, images, and atmosphere of the exhibition. It’s very interesting and new; however, it is also very strange.”


Visitors mostly showed positive reactions; children especially enjoyed the device. Adult visitors with children were also curious about the new technology. That helped maintain the visitors’ (adults) interest in the artist. However, sometimes the device malfunctioned due to heat or some other reason, which reduced the positive responses. Also, sunlight adversely affected the Kinect sensor, so we saw some black dots on the screen during the daytime. When daylight was bright, the screen view looked dim and this reduced the impact of the installation. Compared to other installations; Adult showed more interest and stood under the Sound spotlight awhile to listen. (Figure 8) This might be because of the ease and simplicity of the speaker.

Figure 8: Visitors with Sound Spotlight

Figure 8: Visitors with Sound Spotlight


After the visitor research, we were able to see a similarity between our installation and other museums’ interactive installations (Hornecker,2008). As Eva Hornecker already discussed in her paper, the ‘honey pot effect’ appeared. People understood the device’s function when there was prior interaction by other visitors or when the curator introduced it. So, we need a clearer indication and invitation for visitors to interact with the installation. At first, we attached guidelines on the floor, with a small explanation tag on the wall. Then, we added shoe shaped sheets on the floor. However, more active invitation was needed: for example, the screen’s standby status view needs to be more dynamic, showing its function in order to intrigue visitors. Changes to the physical setting, like the addition of a black box, could also be done to make the installation more attractive to visitors; it would also be useful to block outside light. The method of turning over the pages also needs to be more intuitive. As some visitors mentioned, the inner translated text should be easier to read. In addition, an improved computer cooling system is required to fix the malfunctions of the device. The visitor research might have been more useful if it had been conducted during the development of the prototype. So, it is time for us to start a long term project from a short term project. Also, as museum visitors seek new experiences and knowledge, we are being asked to change our attitude when considering visitors. Bruno Ingemann used the word “User” to describe the new type of visitors, people who are more active and have the capability of co-create (Ingemann,2014). Existing words like ‘visitor’, ‘spectator’, and ‘guest’ have more passive connotations than does ‘user’. To help users to explore our exhibition halls, we have to think differently than we did before. 


As a single artist museum, we are trying to introduce the artist Ungno Lee in a variety of ways. Ungno Lee was an experimental artist who made his artwork using every possible tool. Using the Silhouette Interaction Translator was an early attempt to evoke Lee’s inventive artistic vision. It was a short term project, so the requirements were simple. The installation was designed to become a part of a whole exhibition design; the content was also related with the surrounding exhibits. Visitor research followed after the installation. Through this research, we were able to determine some errors and modifiable points. They asked for a design that was better related to the content, improved technology, and a more readable arrangement. Their opinions on the device were mostly positive; they also showed interest in the artist Ungno Lee. With these results, we can guess at the positive influence of new attempts to promote the artist and the museum’s image. Our museum will continually endeavor to use innovative and appropriate display methods for each exhibition we provide. For the next interactive installation, we summarized what we had learned from our research. (Table 3)

Points   Details
Target Children or Adult (to decide ease, depth of contents and way of interaction)One person or Multi-user
Intriguing Active movement or title, etc.
Content& Concept Relation with the exhibition & Degree of Visitors understandingExhibition concept has to be decided before developing interactive device.
Equipment Price (Rent or Purchase), Location (Electric code, Light),Maintenance method
Prototype& Discussion Prototype and more active discussion are needed during the development of the device. If possible, the device also can be fixed and improved during the exhibition.

       Table 3: Check points for developing interactive device  

With these check points, the guideline suggested by the Office of Policy and Analysis (OP&A) and Smithsonian museum staff (2002) will be helpful to decide the role of interactive device and evaluate its results.


[1] Sokolowski, T. & Dixon. J & G. King, G & Moffatt, L. N. (2008) “The Challenges of Single-Artist Museums”, NewYork Times March 12, 2008

[2] Kino, C. (2008) “Single-Aritist Spaces have their issues, too”, NewYork Times, March 12, 2008

[3] Knutson, K.(2013) “Exploring Art and history at the Warhol museum using a Timeweb”, In K. Drotner & K. C. Schrøder (ed.) Museum Communication and Social Media, 93-110

[4] Pallasmaa, J. (2014), “Museum as an Embodied Experience”, In N. Levent & A. Pascual-Leone(ed.) The Multisensory Museum , Rowman&Littlefield, 239-250

[5] Alexander, J. & Barton, J. & Goeser, C. (2013) Transforming the Art Museum Experience: Gallery One, Museums and the WebThe annual conference of April 17-20, 2013. Also available at

[6] Hornecker, E. (2008) ““I don’t Understand it either, but it is cool”- Visitor Interactions with a Multi-Touch Table in a Museum”, IEEE Tabletops and Interactive Surfaces (Tabletop 08). 121 – 128

[7] Bruno Ingemann, (2014) “10 New Voices in the Museum Space- An Essay on the Communicative Museum”, In K. Drotner & K. C. Schrøder (ed.) Museum Communication and Social Media, 197-202

[8] Warhol museum homepage

[9] Real Madrid Museum_

[10] “In order to control, Interactive Installation”, Feel Desain (2012)

[11] “Developing Interactive Exhibitions at the Smithsonian”, Office of Policy and Analysis & Smithsonian Institution, (2002)


Cite as:
H. Lee & H. KIM, Silhouette Interaction translator. In Museums and the Web Asia 2014, N. Proctor & R. Cherry (eds). Silver Spring, MD: Museums and the Web. Published September 15, 2014. Consulted .