This past weekend I attended the grand opening of LA Plaza de Cultura y Artes in Los Angeles. Considering Los Angeles’ rich Mexican-American history, it is surprising that this is the first Mexican-American cultural center in this city. And because of the monumental importance of such an event, the venue was packed with guests, with news vans and media offering their coverage.
The entire center was designed beautifully and it was wonderful to see all of the different Mexican artifacts on display. A personal highlight was getting to see our interactives finally installed in the exhibit! Los Angeles residents are very proud of their city, and creating an interactive experience focused specifically on an ethnicity that makes up a substantial part of the history, culture, and ethnic makeup of Los Angeles was a fun challenge.
During the concepting phase of this interactive experience, we knew we didn’t want to stray far from the history and culture of Mexico so we came up with the idea of a cultural mosaic. The mosaic idea would harvest the best of both group and individual senses of identity and bring them together, while evoking the experience and history of Mexican American culture.
At the end of the exhibit, there is a video booth asking patrons to share their own immigrant story and experience. Providing the community with a forum to contribute storytelling was a core part of the vision for the exhibit. Visitor-contributed videos are then fed back into the mosaics in the exhibition for others to view.
We also wanted users to be able to contribute their own personal photos to the exhibit. To this end, we provided Flickr integration and made it possible for users to upload their photos on Flickr, of which are then directly pulled into the interactive mosaics. We also integrated Twitter by pulling in any tweets or “buzz” about LA Plaza on the Twitterverse and pulled in user responses from questions LA Plaza has posed to the Twitter community.
With the video booth contributions, Twitter, and Flickr, we wanted user-generated content to play a significant role in fostering community involvement in order to showcase the voice of Los Angeles’ diverse cultural tapestry. It was great to watch all the visitors sharing their stories, and all the discussions about their own family histories it generated among complete strangers in the halls of the cultural center.