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Talk Into The Big Red Ear and the Seoul City Gov't Will Listen

BY Jessica McKenzie | Wednesday, October 2 2013

This is not 'Yobosayo' but it's not too far off. (Glamhag/flickr)

A giant red ear-shaped sculpture has been installed outside of Seoul's City Hall, symbolizing the Mayor and his administration's openness to public opinion and feedback. But citizens who approach the art installation will find that it is more than a symbol. The sculpture is actually facilitating a conversation between ordinary citizens and their government. (For some pictures of the sculpture, click here)

When someone walks past the giant ear, a recorded message plays, inviting people to lean into the ear and record a comment, question or complaint for officials at City Hall. Their words are then broadcast in City Hall. Even more impressive: “Sensors on each speaker detect how many officials are listening at the time and the soundbites that attract the biggest audience are saved for posterity – hopefully for authorities to take into consideration.

Another article explains that mechanism a little more clearly: “ Motion sensors record how long people stand under the speakers listening to these ideas and complaints, preserving those ideas that attract people for an extend period of time.”

The sculpture is entitled Yobosayo—hello in Korean—and was designed by the architect and artist Yang Soo-in, who creates participatory public art. A previous installation was a box made of one way mirrors in which people could record a message. When people were not recording, previous messages were relayed for passing pedestrians.

“It's a positive and addictive social game, where if you do not like the message you're hearing from the box, then the only thing you can do is for yourself to participate and leave your version of the story to diminish the density or the importance of other messages,” explained Yang Soo-in in a TED talk.

Watch the entire video for more about Yang's path to participatory, social artwork with local and political implications:

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