the podium on the Esplanade

As part of a project for 4.301 (Foundations in the Visual Arts), I constructed a portable podium. In order to make the podium easily transportable I made it out of lightweight materials (foam core, tape, and Velcro), and made it collapsible. The podium is in three pieces: the tall base, the wide upper piece, and a part that made up the top surface. These pieces were held together with Velcro, and when they were all attached the mechanical constraints on each piece held the podium rigid. When disassembled, the piece that makes the top surface, along with a hand-strap made of clear duct-tape, can be used as a carrier for the other two pieces. As part of the piece, I also made up a cartoon to explain how to use the podium, which was glued to the top.

The purpose of the project was to solicit public speech, by developing a tool to facilitate speaking. My idea was to go around the city and put the podium up in public places with a lot of foot traffic (the Esplanade, the Common), stand back, and observe how others interacted with it. Unfortunately, the podium wasn't very popular with members of the public. As much as the podium may make it easier and more empowering to speak, most people don't have an issue they want to lecture about on the tip of their tongue. It also didn't help that I deployed the project in March, when it was still fairly cold.

As an interesting side note, when I took the podium to the Common, there was a protest that actually arranged itself around where I placed the podium, yet none of the protesters used the device. I attribute this to the fear that the podium might be owned or for use by someone else, and so potential users did not want to intrude on the possible owner's/user's space. If I made another version in the future, I might want to make it look more used, to make it seem more available.

someone standing near the podium the folded configuration the cartoon on the front