Pick-up Line (2014-2016)

Pick-up Line is an interactive media-art installation that can in short be described as a tiny call-center, because that is what it looks like (and its’ purpose is also to function as one), but when it is in use, it is also an art piece that criticises the use of mobile phones in modern society to communicate with one another. The fact that the installation uses actual old-school type phones to bring its’ meaning across¬†makes it a slightly absurd experience, like getting rid of your nicotine addiction by chewing tobacco, but it isn’t actually like this. ¬†The experience is designed to tear down the borders that prevent you from making potential friends with the strangers that pass you by every day.

Pick-up Line facilitates and stimulates social interaction between people, despite cultural differences, race, sex and age. It aims to lower the barriers between people that haven’t met before. The visitor is invited to pick up a phone, to the simple end of talking to someone else. When this happens, a conversation without an agenda can take place that otherwise wouldn’t have happened.

Nowadays, people can be pretty preoccupied with social networks on their phones, tablets and computers, and sometimes it is easy to forget that there is this whole world out there with real people, that you can talk to. But most people nowadays quickly hide in their phones when a social situation requires them to get out of their comfort zone.

Pick-up Line tries to establish connections between people despite their differences, and because of the anonymous nature in which the conversation is taking place (you cannot see each other, only hear each other) it is easier to form the picture of the person you’re talking to based on the conversation itself, than on the way this person looks. By building bridges between individuals it is possible to understand each other better and look past the first impressions, and learn from each other.

Pick-up Line consists of a construction of three by three meters, that divides the space into eight little, half open rooms of one by one meter. Inside every room is an old school telephone in a colour that corresponds with the colour of the room. So a red phone in the red room and a blue phone in the blue room and so on.

When you sit down on a stool in one of the rooms, you cannot see anyone else. But when you pick up the phone in front of you, one of the other phones in one of the other rooms will be randomly selected through the specially designed system, and start ringing. The person that is sitting there, or is passing by the installation at that moment, can pick up the phone, and you can have a conversation.

When you are done talking, you can hang up the phone, and when you pick it up again, the system will select you a new conversation partner. Because you cannot see the other person, it is much easier to get comfortable talking to a stranger, and break the ice. So it is as safe as being behind your computer, or on your phone, anonymously. But the big difference is, that when you would like to meet the other person in real life, this is also possible. All you have to do is ask the other person in which colour room he is sitting, so you can look each other up and become friends in the real world.