In the spirit of Meow Wolf in Santa Fe, New Mexico and the Museum of Ice Cream in New York City, visual artist turned “pixel-preneur” John Carter unleashed his version of a “selfie museum” at CambridgeSide Mall in late 2020.
But how is GoPixelYourself in Cambridge, Massachusetts different from the other social media experiences popping up across the country?
“We designed GoPixelYourself to appeal to a wider age, gender and style range than many of the others,” Carter said. :It's definitely more than just selfies. We think of it more as a Broadway show with more than a dozen set changes and you're the star.”
With 13 different rooms and 9 million pixels, or the units making up a digital image, the museum produces an interactive, entertaining experience for visitors with an Instagrammable twist— using motion-activated technology to take photos and videos that guests can take home.
“While we were designing it, we kept asking ourselves: would a girl like this room?
Would a guy like this room? What about their dad or grandma?” Carter said. “We wanted this to be the Hamilton of shopping malls.”
GoPixelYourself reopened Valentine’s Day weekend, after initially opening last November, boasting features such as a movie set and a Boeing 747 in 12,000 square feet of space and 4,000 feet of video wall. The experience was created by Parker 3D, a technology-driven design team based out of New Jersey.
Carter weighs in on his inspiration for Boston’s version of the “selfie museum” experience, hurdles faced opening a business during Covid, and making his artistic vision accessible to everyone.
Q: As someone who has been a visual artist for many years, how has GoPixelYourself allowed you to showcase your work as an artist?
Carter: Because of these crazy computers we carry in our pockets now which are also magnificent cameras, and the social media that has sprung up around them, I've been able to take a very wide range of genres that I have participated in over the last 35 years and pack them all into a photographable place.
Q: Why Boston?
A: I lived here for many years in an artist loft in Fort Point Channel and my family history on both sides dates back to the beginnings of Boston. In fact, I have transcripts of a witch trial in my family. I have since moved to New York City, but there are lots of different kinds of selfie museums in New York City and I thought it would be fun to do one in my old hometown where there were none
Q: Why the name GoPixelYourself?
A: We were trying to deconstruct the meaning of digital photography and pixelated video screens and also daydreaming about the Beatles song Lucy in the sky with diamonds. You know, "pixel yourself on a boat on a river ..."
Also wanted something memorable and with a certain amount of attitude. If we pixel the word pixel, maybe it's: go do something else to yourself. Once I figured out the name and typed it into the search engines, I actually couldn't believe it wasn't already out there.
Q: And while we're at it, what exactly is GoPixelYourself?
A: It's a 13 room video art installation which I would consider a high-tech playground for people of all ages. It has 11 automated cameras that add augmented effects. These photos are programmed to create a special personalized website for each visitor.
It's like Times Square got crammed into the anchor store in a mall.
Go PIxel Yourself launches in Cambridge, MA
VIDEO CLIP: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OXlPa-u-OSQ