I Want To

by Laewoo (Leo) Kang, May 2011

Exhibition and invited talk at iConference 2012 in Toronto, Canada,
World Maker Faire 2012 in Hall of Science, Queens, NY - 4 blue ribbons award(http://makerfaire.com/blue-ribbon/)

Interview with Makezine : http://blog.makezine.com/2012/09/26/maker-faire-new-york-i-want-to-interview-with-leo-kang/

Meeting in the Medium :Leo Kang's I Want To at Tjaden :

‘I WANT TO’ is an installation controlled by live Twitter messages. An army of custom designed wooden toys, a television screen and speakers comprise the work. Custom software extracts Twitter messages which start with ‘I want to’. The expression ‘Want to’ becomes ‘Have to’, and the newly-composed sentence is displayed on the television screen while also being sonified through speakers. With each “I have to” phrase, the wooden toys respond by marching in unison. This installation give the audience an opportunity to explore our hopes and desires as unconscious internalizations of external expectations and social norms.

When we say that we ‘want to do’ something, the desire could not be motivated by our minds, but created to satisfy social expectations of institutions, families or workplaces[1]. Michel Foucault, a French philosopher, argues in Discipline and Punishment that we believe that we are under observation through such social mechanisms, and as a result we regulate ourselves [2]. Furthermore, such self-discipline becomes internalized and makes us think that those disciplines are our actual desires.

This project gives audiences an opportunity to observe desire in everyday conversation, and to think about self-discipline and internalization. Fifty custom-designed wooden toys, a television screen and stereo speakers comprise the installation, which is controlled by the messages generated from Twitter, one of the most popular social network services (SNS). The system extracts Twitter messages starting with the word ‘I want to.’ then the system change the expression ‘I want to’ to ‘I have to.’ The television displays the newly-formed sentence while being broadcast through speakers. With each new sentence, the wooden toys start to march in unison.

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