Voices, Universal Forum for World Cultures 2004

Barcelona, Spain

Voices, the theme exhibition of the first Universal Forum of World Cultures, explored cultural diversity and the impact of living languages on an increasingly interdependent world. It also called attention to the loss of language diversity and the need to protect languages at risk.

A participatory multimedia environment serving three thousand visitors a day, the exhibition explored the ways we collectively construct language. The pavilion’s central icon was a 40-foot-high media hemisphere of twenty-nine individual projection screens. Viewers were surrounded by a kaleidoscope of moving images, in which gestures, expressions, sounds, and words revealed the richness of the world’s language traditions.

The pavilion's panoramic perimeter presented a statistical portrait of the world’s spoken languages. Graphic and interactive components explored human communication (translation, learning languages, signs, technologies). Interactive experiences provoked the public's natural curiosity and eagerness to share thoughts, triggering widespread audience participation that revealed traits we all have in common and challenging our preconceptions about other societies.

Forty-six digital projectors using a hundred and fourteen localized speakers and forty-two interactive computer stations presented some six hours of audio-visual software, making each repeat visit to Voices a fresh experience.

Universal Forum of Cultures
  • GOOD DESIGN Awards

  • Society for Environmental Graphic Design, Honor Award, Design/Museum Environments

  • I.D. Annual Design Review, Honorable Mention, Environment

  • Applied Arts Awards Annual, Environmental/Signage Design

© 2014, Ralph Appelbaum Associates, Inc.