Using 'Thank You' to encourage public interaction

For our final project of this term, we were asked to pick a previous project we did and extend on it. The project is called 'More' and we had 2 weeks to complete it. I really enjoyed the MDF typographic letter making in the workshop so this formed the basis for my project; I combined this with the public interaction aspect of the 'Sheet of Paper' project when we had to get members of the public to interact with our work. 

I started by making the MDF letters; cutting around a printed template, sanding the edges and adding a block behind so the letters were freestanding. I then sprayed the letters white so give a better finish. Making the letters was pretty straight forward, however I had not thought properly about how the letters balance. In the workshop the letters stood up fine, but when I took them outside for the first time, they easily fell over in mild wind, as they had not been counterbalanced. I had to take them back to the workshop and added a bigger block of wood behind each letter. This immediately fixed the problem as I made sure the block of wood was the right proportion to the height of the letter.

Now that the letters were finished, I took them into public spaces across London to see how the public would interact with them. I left a notice in front of the letters asking 'What are you thankful for?' to provoke thoughts in peoples minds. There was also a notice encouraging people to take photos of the letters, and also share them with a hashtag. Immediately after we placed the letters and stood back they immediately drew a small crowd, this was pretty good considering there were street performers next to us with no crowd. 

Just seconds after we placed the letters, people were intrigued and started taking photos.

Our first location was the Southbank's Jubilee Gardens, chosen because of the crowds of tourists visiting the London Eye. Straight away people were taking photos of the words, and lots of people wanted to pose next to the letters. People were generally very happy and many were having open conversations about what they were thankful for. This was really great to see and hear as it had provoked the positive response I wanted. 

I then moved the letters further down the Southbank to the National Theatre. After we placed the letters people were again immediately interested. They were now in a location where people could walk around them so there some much more interesting interactions. 

As we moved around to different locations we found that many people were interested in the letters and took lots of photos. I was really surprised with how many people were interested, there was always people constantly taking photos or looking as they walked past. The social media aspect of the project was not as successful as although nearly 100 people took photo with the letters, only 4 posted them to the hashtag. Lots of people took photos for Snapchat which was unfortunate as I had no way of accessing them. 

These tourists wanted to pick up the letters for their photo.

Overall the project was fun to cary out and encouraged lots of members of the project to interact with the word 'Thank You'. The social media aspect was not as successful but by the end of the project, I didn't mind as seeing members of the public laugh and smile around the letters was very rewarding. It provoked a lot of thoughts about what people were thankful for and almost everyone who walked past took photos. There were far more interactions and photos than I expected and I think that because it was around christmas time, the festive atmosphere added to the success.