The shadowy world of espionage has always been a source of endless fascination for people of all ages. The technology used by agencies like the former KGB, CIA, NSA or FSB spans decades, from relatively primitive, to the most bleeding-edge. This is part of New York’s Spyscape museum’s story, as it guides you through about two hours worth of history, vision, props — and probably most exciting for us: interactive experiences.
The spy within
Visitors collected their RFID wristbands on arrival, which acts as a platform guide guests through the museum — not only on a journey into the world’s espionage agencies, but a journey into their very own capacity to operate amongst the shadows.
The museum’s visitors are given the opportunity to discover which of the 10 archetypal Spy Roles they were best suited to: Agent Handler, Cryptologist, Hacker, Intelligence Analyst, Intelligence Operative, Special Ops Officer, Spycatcher, Spymaster, Surveillance Officer, or Technical Ops Officer. They are then sent a follow up email once they’ve left, exploring in more detail their performance, and personality.
As they make their way through, they’re given the opportunity to tackle four interactive experiences.
Amongst them, the Special Ops Challenge, which tasks guests with reaching the end of a laser tunnel, reaching for illuminated targets along the way and racing against the clock.
The Deception Challenge uses face tracking technology, voice analysis and biometric monitoring to teach guests not just how to detect a lie, but how to tell one as well.
To communicate with agents behind enemy lines, guests need to master the Encryption Challenge. Here, aspiring agents use ciphers to send and receive messages on a large interactive touch table.
One of the museum’s centrepieces can be found in it’s entrance: the Briefing Lift. This enormous elevator is actually the world’s largest passenger lift, and its interior is lined with digital screens.
A true audiovisual masterpiece, Territory Studio describe it as such:
An immersive sensory journey, we take visitors from the streets of Manhattan to an alternate dimension, in which the elevator walls melt away as the lift accelerates, revealing the secret environments and exposing the reach of spycraft. From MI6 wood panelled lobbies and corridors, CCTV and cell phone monitoring stations to a tour of surveillance satellites above earth – all the while rocketing the viewer from these different spy-scapes through clever manipulation of perspective, scale and sound.
The team also developed a robust visual identity, accompanied by a bespoke typeface. Two ‘redacted’ variants show each glyph just enough to make it out, cutting off certain sections of the character but leaving others. The third variant shows each character in it’s entirety, just in case. It’s a well-considered solution that has the power to be the voice of the identity.
So, when can we go?
All in all, this sounds like a heap of fun. In the world of creative technology, we’ve been described as operating somewhere amongst the dark arts, so hopefully we can make it across the pond sometime to see what it’s like to really play in the shadows.