Carleton Watkins Interactives

2013 to 2014


The Cantor Arts Center wanted an interactive component for a proposed exhibition on Carleton Watkins, an acclaimed 1800s' western photographer. A team led by another student, Davis Wertheimer, and I were responsible for creating an interactive app that would enhance the analog exhibit experience. Our team created three mobile web interactives that were part of the 2014 exhibition.

My Responsibilities

I directed the concept and design of the interactives and created the wireframes and mockups used in the final implementation.

The Design

Traveling between photographs in the Yosemite Valley

We designed this section to allow visitors to understand the spatial relationships between the photographs Each of Watkins' photographs is a separate window into Yosemite. With the help of 3D animated videos, visitors can travel from one photograph to another.

Tracing Watkins' Route Through the Columbia River and Oregon

Every element of Watkins' photographs was thought out. He chopped down trees to achieve specific views and positioned buildings at the precise center of images. Most visitors would not realize all of the little hidden visual surprises and personal stories embedded in the image. This interactive was designed to bring those insightful points of interest to light. Visitors are able to follow Watkins' route through the sequence of photographs, stopping along the way to read up on interesting facets of each photograph.

The Pacific Coast Then and Now

The San Francisco views Watkins captured in the 1800s have change drastically since then. I designed this interactive to show people the changes, or lack thereof, to the San Franciscan landscape over the past 150 years. Visitors interact with a slider to directly compare and contrast the past-present photograph pairs.

Design Considerations

Viewing a genuine 1800s' print in real life is markedly different from looking at the same photograph online. The museum exists to connect visitors to real art objects. Our apps were specifically needed to accentuate the analog experience, not replace it.

In the Press

Stanford showcases Carleton Watkins' landscape photographs of the American West

Created with David Wertheimer, Cantor Arts Center, Spatial History Project, Stanford University Libraries, Definition LLC, and the Bill Lane Center for the American West