There's an old Jewish joke in which a man asks a rabbi, ""Why do Jews always answer a question with a question?" The rabbi answers: "Do we?" Following that thread, new media artist/UC Berkeley professor Ken Goldberg and designer Gil Gershoni created a new online and physical installation for San Francisco's Contemporary Jewish Museum titled "Are We There Yet? 5000 Years of Answering Questions with Questions." The installation combines computer vision, machine learning, and a high-end surround sound system to provoke visitors with questions drawing from historical Jewish texts, literature, pop culture, and online submissions from the Are We There Yet? site. From the project description:
As they enter, visitors encounter a voice asking a question such as: "Can we talk?" After a pause, other questions emerge: "Do you love me?" or "Is that all there is?" As visitors move farther into the space, the questions become increasingly contemplative. "How big is the step between believing and knowing?" or "If not now, when?" The questions begin to take on new contexts and meanings. Visitors realize that they create their own experiences as they move through space.Are We There Yet?
The ability of the installation to generate a unique auditory experience for each visitor is an exciting first, using new robotic algorithms and software that allow cameras to instantly adapt and spatialize audio to the movements of each visitor. Goldberg and Gershoni are working with a high-tech team that includes Perrin Meyer of Meyer Sound, the renowned Emeryville-based company that designed the sound for the Beijing Olympics and Cirque du Soleil...
Each visit is a unique mix of playfulness, poetry, and spiritual journey.