The Helix is a knowledge and education center near Geraardsbergen, Belgium, run by the Environment and Nature Department of the Flemish government.
This exhibition was conceived to be an ever growing archive that gathers and displays information about ecology and life in the Dender-Mark region. All information for the archive is continuously being collected by locals and other people volunteering during the many events, studies and activities organized by The Helix.
All kinds of objects, stories and images can easily be displayed and stored in a physical archive that was built with sustainable materials and principles following the Open Structures system. The digital component of the archive stores collected videos, photos, sounds and texts.
To allow visitor to access this ever growing digital archive in an inspiring and intuitive way, we developed a few installations:
1. The "Observation Table" is a big table that is covered with a map of the region. When you move a big lens over this map, a screen displays an enlarged view of the area inside the lens and shows you the findings that were made in this area. It's an intuitive and fun way to explore the information in the archive based on location.
2. The "Archive Viewer" is a magical device that was inspired by the old microfilm viewers you used to find in libraries. When you put one of the theme cards that lie next to the device under its camera, the Archive Viewer detects the theme you show it and allows you to browse the archive based on the theme you've selected.
This device can also operate as a scanning tool to take photos of found objects, label them with appropriate themes and upload them immediately to the digital archive.
3. The "Field Recorders" are small recording devices that look like a cross between an audio recorder and a camera. You can borrow them from the reception desk and take them with you on your walk through the region. The devices are equipped with software that displays your location on a map, along with nearby findings. They can also be used to take photos, record sound or write short remarks. All findings are automatically tagged with a GPS location and uploaded to the digital archive to be displayed in any of the other installations.
4. The central server is the heart of the digital archive. It was designed to help curate and manage the huge amounts of images, sounds and texts in the digital archive. It also communicates with all the other installations through an API and controls the content displayed in the installation