Ting: Technology and Democracy

Norsk Teknisk Museum, Oslo, Norway

On the occasion of the Norwegian Museum of Technology‘s 100th anniversary the participatory exhibition TING invites visitors to explore the complex relationships between technology and democracy. A basic wooden cube, analogous to the digital pixel, becomes a haptic tool for visitors to trigger digital interactions within the exhibition and the Ting.

A television transmitter, a military rifle, an industrial robot, and an early computer showcase the historical, cultural, and political uses of technology. It quickly becomes clear that evaluating technology is complex and that there is not just one meaning or truth.

The Ting, which in its ancient form was a circular space, usually with a table at its center where governing assemblies would put things up for discussion, has been transformed and reinvented. 

Surrounding the Ting table, a 25-meter-wide, 5-meter-high shelf displays 100 objects and at the same time functions as a 180° projection surface. Visitors explore the shelf with the interactive tablets or by placing the wooden cubes on the table, simultaneously bringing the objects to life and immersing themselves in the spirit and history of these technologies.

The Ting becomes a discursive social space where dramatic object displays and immersive and interactive media work hand in hand to facilitate a participatory experience in which the visitor is at the center.

Eight controversial objects are put up for discussion and voting at the Ting. Each one of these revolutionary technologies is introduced with a short film narratively illustrating the object’s past, current, and possible future impacts on democracy and society.

A moderator starts the Ting session. Five questions are discussed and voted upon for each piece of technology. Visitors use their wooden cubes or the tablets to place their vote. The voting results are translated into real-time-generated graphics, and the moderator facilitates the group in discussing the outcome. At the end of each Ting session, the final results of all five questions are displayed and discussed.

Past results of previous sessions appear as a cumulatively growing landscape that dynamically changes over the duration of the exhibition. Visitors can express their thoughts and opinions one last time by either scanning the bar code with their smart phone or using the tablets. Their comments immediately appear on the shelf, adding up over time and generating a multifaceted, democratic voice.

Visitors cast a final vote on the concluding question: ”Is it possible to control technological development in a democracy?” As they leave their cubes behind, the cumulative result evolves over the many cycles of the Ting.

The exhibition was designed and produced in collaboration with the Norwegian Museum of Science and Technology and Tamschick Media + Space GmbH.


Norsk Teknisk Museum


  • Red Dot Design Award: Spatial Communication  

  • Communication Arts Interactive Annual March/April

  • Agenda, International Design Communication Award: Best Scenograpgy for a Temporary Exhibition, Gold  

  • DDC / Deutscher Designer Club, Gute Gestaltung, Good Design 15 Award: Space and Architecture

  • Graphis, Design Annual 2015 Award: Print; Exhibit, Gold  

  • American Alliance of Museums, Muse Award, Silver Award: Multimedia Installations  

  • Industrial Designers Society of America, International Design Excellence Award, Finalist: Environments  

  • iF International Forum Design, iF Award 2015, Design Award: Interior Design / Installations  

  • American Alliance of Museums, Muse Award, Silver Award: Multimedia Installations  

  • Society for Experiential Graphic Design, Global Design Award, Honor Award: Experiential Graphic Design  

  • Mariano Gago Ecsite Awards, Ecsite Creativity Award  

  • Applied Arts, Interactive Media Award: Educational / Reference  

  • Applied Arts, Design Award: Environmental / Signage Series  

  • The Chicago Athenaeum Museum of Architecture and Design, GOOD Design Awards: Environment Award  

© 2014, Ralph Appelbaum Associates, Inc.