Interactive City: Gratitude


For this project, Kadie and I really wanted to create a analog interaction.  We were inspired by the analog creation of ‘Before I die’ as well as a study done on happiness.  In the study, the participants were told to write a letter thanking someone who they were grateful for.  The participants all wrote wonderful letters.  Then, to their surprised, they were told to call the person the letter was written about, and read them the letter.  Most of the participants were nervous and felt awkward about calling to tell someone how grateful they were of them.  After the phone calls were made, participants were tested to see how much their ‘overall happiness’ had improved since they first took the test.  Most participants were happier because of it.

So for our project, we wanted to make a sign that says ‘I am grateful for’ and then have sticky notes and markers, so that people can write a note and stick it under the ‘I am grateful for’ sign.  Once the exhibition is over, we want to collect all of the notes and make them into a sort of scrapbook for people to look at.

Hopefully, we will be able to install in in Heimbold soon.  Together, we will construct the ‘I am grateful for’ sign out of paint on poster board. Then, we will hang the poster board on a wall, and have plenty of sticky notes and writing utensils available.

If all goes as plan, people will see the installation and want to add their own piece to it.  We’re going to write a few of our own sticky notes so people have an example of how it works.

We are concerned that people will make a joke of the installation, or that it will not get utilized at all.  Because it is not as permanent as the ‘Before I die’ exhibit we are afraid it will not be taken as seriously.  In the long run we would love to install a more permanent version, such as ‘Before I die.’

This creates a magic circle because the user is contributing their ideas and feelings to a greater whole and by reading the previously posted notes and writing their own they are interacting with our project.  This installation creates a smaller community within the Sarah Lawrence community.  Because it is a temporary art exhibit, it creates a space with no stakes.  Participants know that no harm can come from participating.  It allows participates anonymity if they wish, but it also allows people to feel connect to others.  They have a space to play and share their thoughts in a judgment free environment.  Because of the type of interactive it is, it connects to the ethos and pathos of human nature.  Most people want to be a part of something bigger, so they are willing to participate.  Although it is easier to just walk past, participants make the decision that the extra minute is worth it in this case.  The implicit rules of the interaction is that people will contribute and observe in a positive manner, ergo the ‘magic circle.’ 

We think that this project represents deWalls city ideology of “A Community of Strangers” because it creates a board of familiar strangers. Even though some of the people who wrote sticky notes never saw each other, they can still see what they are thankful for. Anyone passing by can see this collection of ideas posted by strangers.  It creates a ‘familiar stranger’ model as talked about in deWaal on pages 14-15. 

Before I Die installation:

Gratitude Experiment: