Megaphonebooth Helsinki: Initial Scouting and Shouting
Unsworn Telecom went to Helsinki to scout and test locations for a new, loud initiative: Megaphonebooth Helsinki.
Megaphonebooth Helsinki is a coin-operated megaphone to be located in a public space somewhere in Helsinki. To use the megaphone you just have to insert one euro per minute, speak into the attached handset and have your voice instantly amplified and projected into the local soundscape.
Why on earth?
A Megaphonebooth presents unexpected opportunities but also raises questions about responsibility, control, and democracy. Who are allowed control of public space and to what price? What citizen expressions and actions are sanctioned and encouraged by city authorities? In what world would Megaphonebooths be part of the everyday urban infrastructure? What does it mean to buy a megaphone minute? What rights can you actually acquire?
A small hammer
The Megaphonebooth offers a platform from which people can speak their mind, loud and uncensored. Yet, when compared to the loudness, plentitude and persistence of other messages (commercial, cultural and political) that we are exposed to in our everyday lives, the mighty megaphone seems peculiarly powerless. The Megaphonebooth is a deliberately tragic solution meant to bring focus to an unbalance while feebly attempting to correct it.
Scouting and shouting
Finding a good spot for the Megaphonebooth is essential. The location shouldn’t be too obvious, nor too odd. Not too practical for political polemics, nor too romantic and secluded. Thankfully, we got Pixelache organisers Nathalie Aubret and Juha Huuskonen and many other helpful locals to suggest interesting spots for us to try, along with important background information.
With our tourist map cramped with circles, x-marks-the-spots and notes, we dug out some cardboard from the Pixelache dumpster and taped together a rough, somewhat portable, mock-up of a Megaphonebooth. Stuffing it with our handy travel-megaphone we had a working full-scale prototype in no-time.
For a full day we stuck to our prototyping itinerary, walking all over Helsinki, setting up and trying out the prototype every now and then.
GALLERY GOES HERE *
In the end we managed to thoroughly test:
- The Kauppatori (market) Pier facing the sea
- The Esplanade
- The Railway Station Square
- Hakaniemi Square
- The Parliament
- The Mannerheim Statue
- The Long Bridge
- The Curve in Kallio
- Sörnainen Metro Station
Of all these, Kamppi is our favourite spot. It provides ample opportunity to engage in quixotic quarrels with commercialism represented by the Kamppi mall. The Finnish bureau of patents is also conveniently within earshot for those with a penchant for copyright conundrums. There is also plenty of space for a voluntary and involuntary audience.
Did we miss a spot?
Where do you think Megaphone Helsinki should be located?