Cannes Lions

Sol Lewitt app

LISTEN, New York / MICROSOFT / 2021

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Overview

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Credits

Overview

Idea

The goal of the Sol LeWitt app was to make Conceptual art and the life and work of Sol LeWitt more accessible. By collaborating with his estate and Microsoft technology, the app brings legacy to life in a highly engaging way: Art fans, students, or curators can explore his life via interactive timeline and map, which features never-before-seen photos, audio, and video from LeWitt’s archives. Or they can take a 360-degree tour of his Connecticut studio (closed to the public and untouched since his death in 2007). Most importantly, thanks to Microsoft AI’s Custom Vision API, users can use their phones to scan select LeWitt Wall Drawings around the world in public and museum collections, unlocking information about his artistic process and the history of the piece.

Execution

This collaboration between the LeWitt Estate and Microsoft spanned almost 2 years from initial collaboration discussions through research and development, to app launch on September 23, 2020. We wanted to make a mobile app so that users could access it smoothly from anywhere without connecting to wifi — specifically within museums that house LeWitt’s work. Then we had to train the AI to recognize select LeWitt Wall Drawings. We partnered with numerous global museums including MASS MoCA, MoMA, SFMOMA, and the Morgan Library in order to get high-quality images of the artworks we could use for this purpose; and traveled ourselves to capture other Wall Drawings, such as Whirls and twirls (MTA) at the Columbus Circle subway station in NYC. For app content, we worked with editor Lindsay Aveilhe, who wrote the Catalog Raisonne on LeWitt and is considered one of the foremost scholars of his work. The app contains 300+ pages of original copy and is designed with LeWitt’s own minimalism in mind: Our font comes from fonts he used for his books, sketches, and posters. The arrow we designed for navigation is derived from the way he drew arrows in his sketches. His work is very grid-based, so we looked to translate grids and squares into the design. We wanted his work to be the main visual draw, so we designed a system that is more institutional and minimal to allow his artworks to shine. With the app launch coming amidst a global pandemic when most cultural institutions were closed to the public, the true miracle of this project was the ability to work with museums to build a truly unique in-person experience for visitors, and an equally fruitful experience outside of the museum, with an extreme breadth and depth of content.

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