This project aims to facilitate greater interaction, in a private public space, among users who may be unknown to each other through socialization, incentive and play.
Public spaces are participatory landscapes. Through human action, visual involvement and the attachment of values, people create their own spaces. In recent times, Urban India has catapulted shopping malls as the most ubiquitous and frequently visited places. With the advent of FDI in Retail, this trend- in all likelihood- will see further exponential growth. People visit malls for shopping, leisure, recreation, experience or to simply spend excess time. In fact, the new shopping malls are designed to encourage flânerie and “hanging out.” The combination of ambience, space and convenience is a big attraction for a time strapped city dweller. By virtue of being privately owned, even though technically shopping malls may not be public spaces, the mental model of urban Indian community considers them so.
User Personas based on the research completed till now was developed. Following this, a hypothesis that, “If an installation in a shopping mall gives an incentive to people unknown to each other to interact for their own benefit, then a majority of them will interact.” was put forth. Based on this hypothesis, concepts for such a desired installation were designed. All concepts were evaluated against concepts of innovation, empathy, incentive, communication and trust. Based on the results, the optimum solution was selected and it was called “Aks.”
In the interactive mirror, viewer’s movement and expressions are mimicked by a the face of a fellow shopper- which is overlaid on the viewer’s reflection. The resulting effect invites inquiry into issues of self-awareness, empathy and non-verbal communication. This project is inspired by the neural mechanism called ‘mirror neurons’ which explains how we get an experiential insight of other minds. The mechanism suggests that the rituals which involve seeing oneself as another might be far more than simply a symbolic performance — they might be closer to an embodied simulation of other people. This project explores a mirror as an amalgamation of the self and the other, inviting inquiry into how we determine the boundary between the two. The instinctual engagement that the installation elicits reminds us that we share with others a great heritage which is that of the unconscious mind. Building upon this philosophy, the project aims to take forward this connection between people by encouraging them to actually interact with each other. Since, social awkwardness might prevent such communication, it is imperative that a suitable incentive should be provided to encourage such interaction.