Monday, November 10, 2008

Summary: Jelly Bean Project

The goal of our public space project was to invite people to learn more about the spaces in the city, and to increase awareness of history. In trying to answer this question and to forge new connections between people and their environments, my group explored a variety of approaches, and had some success, though also faced some challenges.

Of our four original ideas — mirror reflection, tree image projection, costume play, and Easter egg containers — we narrowed our design concept to the latter. We believed that by placing colorful containers in public spaces, we would be able to interrupt the passive observation of landscape and encourage study, investigation, play or exploration. However, during the first critique, our initial choice of object — hollow plastic Easter eggs — emerged as problematic, both because they were incongruous with the season, and because some people might take issue with the religious connotations. We then searched for alternate containers that might be suitable. In the end, we came up with plastic jelly bean-shaped containers, objects so playful that it is hard to imagine anyone disliking them.

However, the project was designed as more than a one-time interaction. On the back of paired-up cartoons invited people to visit our Website,, which encouraged virtual interaction with people. Having a Website linked to a public space project was a deviation from normality. This Website was how we met our goal to incorporate technology into our project. We had originally wanted to create an electronic device that would light up when people put a pair of jelly beans inside of the device. Furthermore, considering the difficulty of building such a device outdoors with no power outlets, we settled on the idea of technological interaction mediated by a Website.

Our Website was designed to feature a simple white background, cartoons and characterized beans. Our goal was for visitors to leave feedback, observations, and other impressions on what was otherwise a random site. There weren’t clear instruction on the Website, and we invited people to think about what it was about. Above all, we wanted people to think.

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