Ad Agency Creates Chilling Landmine Experience

Critical Mass Makes Threat Real for Museum-Goers Using iBeacon

By Published on .

For one day at the New Museum in New York City last week, a "Sweeper" exhibit took people through a chilling multi-sensory installation that recreated a walk through a deadly minefield. Created by digital agency Critical Mass, along with the United Nations Mine Action Service, the goal of the interactive exhibit was to bring awareness to the daily threat of landmines that exists for millions of people throughout the world.

The agency used Apple's iBeacon technology, its new indoor positioning system, to simulate the experience via an app people downloaded on their phones. As they walked by a beacon in the exhibit, visitors triggered an explosive sound indicating they had been "blown up." They would then be provided with gruesome details of the aftermath one would experience during a real attack, and led to a donations page.

The exhibit also included an audio tour guide that described in detail the consequences of becoming victim to these explosive hazards.The exhibit also featured poignant portraits of mine victims by photographer Marco Grob, the man behind the last professional portrait sitting of late Apple founder Steve Jobs.

"We had six weeks from concept to exhibition," said Critical Mass Chief Creative Officer Conor Brady. "That makes you edit and make decisions quickly. We utilized a lot of what we learned in our own experiments beforehand and got pretty quickly to concept and making. Plus when you are working with people like Marco Grob you get access to amazing content."

The agency stumbled upon the idea during a brainstorming session on how to use the new Apple technology for clients. It came to life with the realization that the "trigger" that happens when activating a beacon is similar to the detonation of a mine. After fleshing out the content, and through agency connections, Critical Mass landed a meeting with UNMAS Director Agnes Marcaillou. "Within an hour, they agreed to create the app and the live exhibition for the International Day for Mine Awareness," said Dianne Wilkins, CEO of Critical Mass.

"I hope people look at this as a new way to experience an exhibition -- that physical and digital content combine to make a great exhibition experience," said Mr. Brady. "I hope it moves them enough to be activating in helping a great cause."

The work was done pro bono and was a "passion project" for the agency.

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