Photo by Andrew Meredith
There is a number of traditions how to make a wish, for example, one should make a wish when blowing the candles on birthday cake, when a year is changing, by throwing a coin in a fountain and much more. Making a wish is always connected to a magic, at the same time there is no visual manifestation nor any continuity after a wish is made.
Wishing Wall looks at re-imagining how we share our innermost wishes with the world. What if you could say your wish out loud and have it magically released into the world for people to see? In this piece spoken words are transformed into butterflies that are diverse in form and colour as they represent the sentiment of the spoken words. The gallery visitors are invited to interact with the butterflies and discover released wishes.
Our intention is to retain the magic around making a wish, and at the same time, slightly alter the traditional approach around it. Hence, our aim is to encourage saying a wish out loud and explore made wishes by playfully interacting with the butterflies. Yes, a spoken wish turns into a butterfly. Each butterfly carries a wish that can be released when one catches the butterfly or lets it land on his/her arm.
In addition to that, we want to understand and also visualize the sentiment behind the spoken wish. The idea is to turn the feelings into the butterfly’s appearance. Since those insects are very colourful and in different size, it makes sense applying their attributes for representing different moods of wishes. For this we have used Robert Plutchnik’s Wheel of Emotions, which maps eight basic emotions to colours, for instance, joy is yellow and red is anger. The sentimental analyses of made wishes is realized with Word-Emotion Lexicon by Saif Mohammad, a researcher at the National Research Council Canada (NRC).
We liked the idea to think of a metamorphoses of wish that was also an inspiration and reason for using butterflies in the piece. In addition to that, a butterfly is a creature that has a magical and beautiful appearance. Maybe that’s why people tend to catch and even collect butterflies. Thus, metaphorically our installation does similar things: invites audience to catch butterflies, explore others’ wishes, and collects all wishes made.
Technically speaking, all the visual part of the work is realized with code using Tree.js.
Video documentation with explanations in audio:
Acknowledgements to Google Creative Lab team and Barbican for all the help and support to with the project.