The Taipei Fine Arts Museum App – Introduction to Features
A Micro Museum, with Audio Guides, Interactivity, and Creativity All in One
The TFAM App is designed as a “Micro Museum.” The audio tour features audio descriptions by either the curator or the artists, introducing artworks they have personally selected, including the core curatorial concept and how the artworks came into being. These in-depth but easy-to-understand explanations incorporate the App’s positioning feature and interactive checkpoints throughout the museum, providing an invigorating, dynamic museum experience.
The App also uses the Bluetooth iBeacon protocol. As soon as you enter Taipei Fine Arts Museum, you can instantly embark on an eye-opening journey of art. You’re no longer limited by the exhibition signs, which are available only at fixed points. Interactive games will help you understand the meaning of the museum’s architecture, the significance of its geographical location in both the present and the past, and the beauty of selected works in the galleries. After you have successfully completed your missions, you can instantly unlock the 3D AR drawing feature. With it, you can draw three-dimensional objects in the gallery spaces using your mobile device’s screen as a canvas, and instantly share them on social media.
Taipei Fine Arts Museum first opened its doors in 1983. It is located at the historical gateway to the capital, along Old Taipei’s main thoroughfare. In the park outside the museum, aircraft often fly at low altitudes overhead. The Yuanshan area, where it is located, is also an important site for cultural and historical research in Taiwan. It is a place where cultures have long met and interwoven. Nearby is the Yuanshan Prehistoric Site, a national-level Class 1 historical site with neolithic archeaological remains. Also in the vicinity is the former site of the Taiwan Shinto Shrine, the center of faith during the Japanese colonial era. The museum itself is seated on the original site of the United States Taiwan Defense Command headquarters during the Cold War. It has now become a point of intersection between culture and power.
Immersive Experience: Works from the collection bring the museum’s former surroundings back to life
The App’s new, improved Checkpoint Game transforms two specially selected artworks with intimate connections to TFAM, one modern, the other contemporary. They are “Scenery near Yuan-Shan” by Hsueh-Hu KUO and “Invade the TFAM” by I-Chen KUO.
“Invade the TFAM” was a site-specific installation that I-Chen KUO created for the 2004 Taipei Biennial, inspired by TFAM’s unique geographical location. Combining airline take-off and landing schedules with sound effects, the artist cast the silhouette of a large aircraft’s underbelly across the ceiling of the museum lobby, ingeniously inserting the outdoor scene from the adjacent park into the building’s interior. The Checkpoint Game uses augmented reality technology to recreate the artwork. If you lift up your head and look at the high ceiling of the lobby through your smart phone, you will see the belly of an airplane passing low overhead.
Checkpoint Game, “Invade the TFAM” level on a phone screen
Another major work from the museum collection is “Scenery near Yuan-Shan,” a meticulous depiction of the area as it was in 1928, by Hsueh-Hu KUO, a well-known Taiwanese artist who painted in the Nihonga (Asian gouache) (traditional Japanese) style. Employing image recognition technology, the App allows users to view Yuanshan hill from the museum through their mobile phones, seeing how it looked in years gone by. Simply go to the designated location and scan the AR icon. On your mobile device’s screen, the scene from the painting is superimposed on the real scene going on outside, so you can compare the past and the present of Yuanshan hill. The painting reveals that in the 1920s construction was prohibited in the vicinity. There were neither residential houses nor elevated roadways nearby. In addition to the architectural changes, we can also see the natural flora of the time, which Hsueh-Hu KUO portrayed in great detail. Many plants can be clearly distinguished, such as Chinese fan palms, corn, sunflowers, bamboo, and sandalwood…though they have long disappeared. The App’s close-view feature lets you survey the landscape and see the changes for yourself. The visual reproduction is paired with an audio work from the 2018 Taipei Biennial by nature sound artist Laila Chin-Hui FAN. Conducting field research in mountain forests, she recorded the sounds of low-altitude montane species, such as crickets and other grass-dwelling chirping insects that were once very common, simulating the environmental soundscape of the past. Compared with the frantic clamor of today, it feels as if we are traveling back 90 years, to listen to memories from a different time.
Taipei Fine Arts Museum was founded in 1983 as Taiwan’s first museum dedicated to modern and contemporary art. The architect Er-Pan KAO designed the building and oversaw its construction. The shape of the building is formed in an identical framework to the Chinese character ”井”, which means “fountain” or “dwell” and cantilevered tubes. Its windows extending outward at different heights have become one of the museum’s most iconic images. The App offers two ways to get to know the TFAM building. First, every time you unlock a level of the Checkpoint Game, a new section of the building is put in place. (Fig. 2.10.)
Image from the TFAM App Checkpoint Game interface
The second way to learn about the TFAM building takes place on the Checkpoint Game’s Level 2. There, a three-dimensional jigsaw puzzle deconstructs the museum building. Based on the descriptions of the various game levels, you can piece together different structural units to not only become familiar with the readily observable external appearance of this minimalist, off-white modernist building, but also gain a deeper understanding of less visible elements, such as its Western-style structure, the traditional Chinese central courtyard architecture, the motifs of arched hubs and cantilevered corridors, and galleries that protrude symmetrically on each floor, suspended in the air.
2.3 Highlight Feature 3: The TFAM Ecosystem
Taipei Fine Arts Museum prizes not only structure and function, but also interior facilities and lighting. The central atrium receives abundant natural light, forming a direct channel between the museum’s interior and exterior spaces. Designed around the special brightness of this space, Level 4 of the interactive game connects with “Light-vented Bulbul,” an artwork from the 2018 Taipei Biennial, which accentuates and re-expresses the proposition that the museum is an ecosystem. Tue Greenfort, a Danish artist who excels at exploring the qualities of specific environments, noticed that the museum’s glass atrium hosted numerous subtropical plants, such as tall, golden palm trees, which need copious sunshine, and low-lying, velvety sword ferns. The atrium’s multi-layered ecosystem not only offers people a place to rest, but has also become the home of several light-vented bulbuls, a common bird species in the lower altitudes of Taiwan.
The Checkpoints use the iBeacon position sensing system and AR image recognition technology. When you walk into the atrium, you can click on your phone screen to select the plants growing there. Move your phone and watch the bulbuls fly out from the screen. If you’re lucky, real bulbuls will fly into the atrium, and you can see virtual and real bulbulsjuxtaposed on sight, an expression in miniature of the relationship between nature and technology.
2.4 Highlight Feature 4: iBeacon Active Audio Guide
(Introductions of current, special and annual exhibitions)
Audio Guides Provide a More Convenient Viewing Experience
The museum has been using an iBeacon Bluetooth sensor audio guide system since 2016. When your device approaches an artwork, you can click to listen to an audio introduction that the system has sent on its own in real time. This intuitive method is different from QR codes, messenger, or user input. You don’t need to find additional information or read instructions. Move around the museum however you like, and the audio guide will explain the works in the order you choose.
iBeacon’s backend data provides TFAM a strategic foundation, while offering a better user experience
Besides serving the end user, iBeacon’s backend management system also collects data on each signal transmission point, such as the number of listening and clickthrough rate, to help the museum understand user movement, as an important reference for understanding users’ behaviour and preferences.
Audio Guides On-Demand
Users can also key in the serial number to listen to the audio guide and bookmark their favourite works.
Checkpoint Game: “Taipei Art Awards” Level
The Taipei Art Awards are Taiwan’s longest-standing, most important benchmark art competition. Their purpose is to discover outstanding young Taiwanese artists and give them sustained support.
This is the TFAM App’s “Truth or Dare” Segment. On this level, Grand Prize winners of the Taipei Art Awards from 2011 to 2019 share their true feelings. The interface design is based on the game “Truth or Dare”: spin the bottle to hear a randomly selected, confidential revelation – a lively, fun way to get a glimpse at the minds and the worlds of the artists.
2.5 Highlight Feature 5: 3D AR – Everyone’s an Artist
After you complete all the levels, you can unlock the 3D AR drawing feature. It provides a color brush that lets you paint directly on your screen. The App is designed to let you incorporate the museum’s spaces as a medium to make art with. You can choose whatever part of the museum you like, or go out and paint up your everyday life. And you can instantly share your creations on Facebook or Instagram.
Examples of 3D AR painting
The 3D Painting interface
Sharing on social media
2.6 Highlight Feature 6: Accessibility & Equality
Living a life of culture is a basic human right. There should be no inequity for any reason, be it identity, age, gender, geography, ethnicity, or physical or cognitive disability. Taipei Fine Arts Museum actively promotes equal access. The App has been upgraded to improve shortcomings in current facilities and services. It provides friendly services in response to the needs of different visitors, including text-to-speech conversion for the visually impaired, and adjustable font size options to help seniors read the exhibition information.
To experience the TFAM App on your mobile device, please search for “Taipei Fine Arts Museum” in the Apple App Store or Google Play and download or click on one of the links below.
- iOS 11.0 or later versions. Compatible with iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, iPad Air, iPhone 5s or later versions.
- Android 8.0 or later versions. 3D augmented reality can be used with some devices.
3.2 Key Technologies
- iBeacon micro-location technology is a low-power-consumption indoor positioning(locating) system. It allows smart phones or devices to receive specific operational information within sensor parameters at iBeacon locations. The TFAM App uses this technology to support its audio guide system. When users come close to an artwork, they automatically receive information about the exhibition.
- 3D augmented reality (AR) uses camera image calculations and computer graphics to superimpose virtual and real images on the screen, allowing the virtual and real worlds to interact.
3.3 Mobile Device Interface
Opening Page Sequence: Startup Page / Thought of the Day / Recommended Exhibitions / Exhibition List
1. Enter the TFAM App Home Page, for the Exhibition List
5. Social Media Sharing
6. Language Setting: Mandarin/ English
3.4 Statistics / Result
Since the launch of the TFAM APP in July 2020, until 17 March 2021, we have had a total 14,015 downloads: 10,086 iOS downloads and 3,929 Android downloads. The monthly number of total listening reached 6,665. 59,5% users are female and 40.5% are male. 30.7% of users aged 18-24 and 25.34% of users aged 25-34.