Talking lamp experience (observed by Tanya)

Talking lamps experience which was introduced by one of the groups involved a number of lamps set up in different places around the park. The lamps were wired and there was some kind of devise through which the person on the other end of the wire could communicate with people passing by.

Usually experience went like this:

People strolling in the park were attracted by the lamps; some lamps had music coming out of them so people were even more curious about them. As a person approaches the lamp it starts to talk to the person; this was supposed to stir up surprise, curiosity and excitement and engage the person into conversation. The person exits the experience as soon as he or she gets bored. It is not clear for me if there is some kind of extension of the experience.

I observed two lamps. One was standing on the side of the park path near the entrance and the other that was standing on the wide tree stump in the middle of the park. The first one was very attractive: it sanded on the visible spot, had a very interesting look and there was music coming out of it. People, who passed by the lamp, did pay attention to it but did not try to engage. One third of the people who did try to enter the experience heard the phrase “Dance with me!” coming out of the lamp; and after that the person was either trying to communicate with the lamp or simply was walking away (the last was more often).

The second lamp had the same idea but it did not have music so it was heavily relied on the conversational aspect.  There were more people trying to communicate with this lamp. Parents were enjoying tricking their kids with the talking lamp. And kids were really engaged in this experience, but lamp did not hold the conversation and the kids’ attention and interest were shortly lost.  Then there was a group of “business” people hanging around the lamp, joking about it and engaging in the conversation with it.

Overall, the idea of talking lamps experience seems compelling to me and people would enjoy it more if the person who was talking on the other end of the wire would not be so obviously noticeable. When I approached the lamp, the first thing that I’ve noticed (except the lamp itself) a bench full of people spying on me and that made me uncomfortable and constrained because nobody likes to be under surveillance. Second, the location of the lamps was important because some lamps were standing along the paths and people just passed them by especially the ones near the entrance. The lamps that were in the middle of the park were more popular as a lot of people were congregating there.  Third, I think that it is very hard to achieve great results in this kind of experience because the person who is suppose to hold and develop the conversation has to have a bit of a talent in talking with strangers and engage them into discussion and also finish up the discussion at the very right moment in a very nice way so the interlocutor won’t get bored and won’t feel rejected. This did not go so smoothly when I was observing the experience probably because it was already too late and students were tired of talking.

Photo: kid is saying goodbye to the talking lamp 🙂

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