Less is, Ever so Often, More

Greetings from Dubai.

I’m here on a project for a few months, which may affect topic and perspective; always a good thing to shake-up oneself by parachuting into other cultures and projects.

I came across this first video, a few days ago, illustrating a simple, promotional concept of the French Railway, announcing new service from Lyons to Brussels. It is brilliant in its simplicity; using technology that is virtually ubiquitous in the Western World and Asia to surprise and engage passers-by and promote both the railway and it’s service to the City of Brussels.

This immediately brought to mind another installation that has been floating around the globe for a few years; the Telectroscope.

Take a look at the two installations, and let’s talk…


Take a Look at Brussels

Granted; that the Telectroscope is designed as a public, interactive, art installation with a fictitious backstory while “Take a Look at Brussels” is a Marketing Strategy. Yet, examining the two, side-by-side, I see an excellent example of the effectiveness of underproduction and circumventing preconception versus setting up expectation and perhaps not quite delivering to it…especially in a technologically sophisticated population.

Both these experiences feature technology that is present in pretty much every desktop and laptop computer and many mobile devices available to us. Skype, iChat, FaceTime; these all have inured our peers to awe at being presented with face-to-face conversation at great distances.

Comparing the two experiences and their effectiveness, though, I have to come down on the side of the “…Brussels” piece. A nondescript, free-standing box which, when one’s head literally enters the space, becomes a virtually immersive, personal experience seems to greatly exceed the excitement engendered by the other install.

Expectations at Insertion are low; with simple curiosity bringing the viewer closer. Then, when inside, the unexpected is presented with alacrity and matter-of-fact humor.

This, versus a highly-themed and expensive installation that projects complexity yet offers what is, essentially, sound-free Skype. The fabricated, Telectroscope backstory of a tunnel drilled under the ocean so that people from distant cities can see one another is out of date before we start, and under-delivers, in that there is no sound.

One can thrill to come across an unexpected opportunity to wave to someone from Times Square to Trafalgar; but as a promoted destination, there seems no real payoff. A better and more personal experience can be had with iPhone and iPad between the same, two locations. Not to disparage the concept behind Telectroscope; but to point out the effectiveness of less buildup for more reward…at a far lower price.

Is there a payoff to the heavily-themed, Jules Verne-esque setting for the Telectroscope installation that offsets the increased cost? Or, does the simple surprise and matter-of-fact presence of technology in the “…Brussels” installation actually resonate more compellingly?

Something to consider when planning an experience or campaign. Big is great; as long as the payoff is comparable.


One thought on “Less is, Ever so Often, More

  1. Had a similar project on concept, to connect 4 specific kid’s locations in : Lagos (Nigeria), London, southen region of the Netherlands and Kopenhagen. (Being +- in the same time zone was / is important)
    Story background is “fairy tales” , and the kids themselves are the fairies… (giving them really wings, virtally added 😉 )

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