Ramirez and Woods Inc.: Knoxville World’s Fair Exhibition

  • ©,

  • ©,




    Knoxville World's Fair Exhibition




Artist Statement:

    Interactive video disk and personal computers were used at the 1982 Knoxville World’s Fair in Tennessee to create a powerful and attractive system that was both instructive and engaging.

    This system was designed to be a highly personal, elastic, non-linear presentation of information. It was interactive, responding to and allowing its users to pursue areas of specific interest while bypassing familiar or boring information. At the same time, the system made full use of its powers, employing images – both still and moving – text, and sound.

    The subject of the system was energy, and it was covered from every conceivable angle: the sources and uses of energy; definitions of energy terms; and different expert views on energy issues.

    Thirty-three thousand visitors passed through the exhibit each day, using a total of 42 different interactive video screens that offered immediate access to the visitor’s specific area of interest.

    A user had only to touch a word or symbol on the screen to indicate an interest in more detailed information. The corresponding information would immediately appear, called up for display from its storage place on one of the system’s video disks.

    Touch-Sensitive Display Screen
    Touch can be registered on the television screen because a grid of invisible infra-red light is cast across the screen by lights bordering the screen. When the screen is touched, the grid is broken, signaling precisely where the area of interest lies.

    Video Disks
    A video disk holds 54,000 images on one side. The interactive disk players use laser to play the disk instead of the more conventional stylus. A computer acts as an intermediary between the disk player and the interactive video screen. The computer registers the area of the screen touched by the user, and instructs the disk player to go to the place on the disk where the appropriate information is stored, and to “play” it.

Technical Information:

    30 Apple II Computers
    50 Sony LDP1000 videodisk players
    50 Sony PVM19 color monitors
    25 Elographics Touch Sensors

Process Information:


    Exhibitions require the design and presentation of information in time and three-dimensional space. The viewer’s movement and experience is shaped and structured by the design of the exhibition. Exhibitions can be categorized as both entertainment and education.

    While exhibitions have often included real-time demonstrations and viewer participation, to put effective static or dynamic information into a three-­dimensional exhibition is awkward and expensive. Computers coupled with video, touch-sensitive displays, and video disks provide a wide range of more individualized access and choice of information to a larger number of people.

Affiliation Where Artwork Was Created:

    Ramirez and Woods Inc.

Other Information:

    US Department of Commerce