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This 2012 art installation came up in conversation earlier today, when Henry told me about the day he visited Axman Surplus in Saint Paul and passed on the opportunity to buy 100 Teddy Ruxpin innards, including working mouth and cassette player. He should kick himself every day for passing up on that opportunity.
Thanks to the interconnectivity provided by the internet people have never before been better able to express their emotions to the world community. Everyday hundreds of thousands of people use a myriad of blogs and other online outlets to discuss how they are feeling on an endless array of topics ranging from superficial thoughts on the quality ones ‘hair day’ to extremely intimate considerations of love, betrayal or even whether or not they should end their lives. Literally every subtle increment on the scale of the human emotional condition is expressed but sadly due to the tremendous scale of information available many of these expressions are buried within a sea of noise. With T,E.D. my aim is to give a literal voice and physical presence to a portion of this content as it is expressed in real-time…
TED is a large, wall-based installation consisting of an array of 80 Teddy Ruxpin dolls that speak emotional content gathered from the web via synthetic speech with animated mouths. The speaking of the emotional content is accompanied by one of twenty-four musical vignettes that have been paired to the emotional content being spoken. Each vignette, representing one of twenty-four subtle variants of human emotion, have been composed in such a way that the beginnings and ends of the short pieces will seamlessly dogleg in any possible configuration and stream endlessly as a unified whole.
The installation is allowed to drift about freely through the emotional landscape being driven only by those who are contributing content to the piece whether unwittingly or consciously. As such the overall presentation of the piece can vary greatly based on external conditions such as seasons, world events and even time of day. The piece is essentially taking the instantaneous emotional pulse of the internet and this collective pulse, like a human pulse, varies over time.