Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Moodbank: New Zealand's answer to growth at all cost

Alexandra Newlove

This ATM doesn't care how much money you have, and will be in Whangarei from today with the aim of get fresh ideas flowing ahead of the October council elections.

A new ATM in Whangarei will focus on how you feel rather than how much money you have.
Moodbank - a public art project with Wellington roots - is an ATM-style machine which asks passers by to "deposit" how they are feeling, with a list of more than 1000 emotions to choose from. The data is then fed into a system which analyses the overall mood of the city.

The ATM is being brought to Whangarei today by TogetherTahi, a collective focused on citizen engagement and community well-being, which is putting up candidates in Whangarei's urban wards in the coming local government election.

Spokesman Ash Holwell said the idea was to provide an alternative discourse to the obsession with "economic growth" which often dominated in politics.
Moodbank uses well-being, rather than money, as its currency.

"So, is how we're feeling as a city a valid conversation to be having? Rather than just 'oh, we've created another 60 jobs at McDonald's,'" he said.

The ATM's 1000 moods also aimed to validate the entire human experience including unspoken and unacknowledged emotions, not just the feelings that were useful in consumer culture.

Mr Holwell said the aim was to set the ATM up in the CBD initially. It would then tour public places around the district.

Manaia PHO had expressed an interest in hosting the machine at its service providers, with schools and community halls other possible locations.

"We'll be able to spatially map the moods of Whangarei ... The more it moves, the more we get a sense of what's happening," Mr Holwell said.

He said the machine would also raise awareness about the October elections and gave people an easy and accessible way to contribute to the conversation.

Information deposited would be publicly accessible via a website, but the final aim would be to display it in town, possibly using a large projection which would update in real time.

Moodbank was created by Wellington artist Vanessa Crowe, who wanted to "mimic and subvert" the banking industry's interest in moods, and explore the role machines now play in sharing feelings and experiences.

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