Saturday, May 18, 2013

Behind the Scenes

WELCOME TO LIVE FROM IKEA, the whiteboard outside a small, transformed showroom in IKEA reads.

Live from IKEA? Live in IKEA? When I first step into the cozy, yellow-carpeted corner that John Freyer had made his for three days, I wonder for a moment if the man actually means to sleep in the shop. He assures me that he does not, but after an afternoon with the team, I figure living at IKEA would be an exhausting endeavor indeed.

John welcomes curious visitors into our yellow room. They are either attracted by the same brilliant yellow fuzz I am (see picture), or drawn to the neon pink handkerchief dangling from John's light pastel pink pants. At least I maintain. Nevertheless, John introduces them to the project, which explores the customer's journey through IKEA. 

The vision of the project is never quite clear. Up till now I am still fuzzy over what the project really was expressing. Real time information transfer from an art project in IKEA (hence "Live from IKEA"?) An exploration into the inner (perhaps sinister) workings of IKEA, spoofing their activity of observing customers' walks through their store? A documentation of consumers, and the effect of shopping upon them? Perhaps the project is still in the process of shaping itself. Regardless, in the short time I spend with Live From IKEA, the team I join collects a dizzying amount of information from the participants.

In the picture above, John takes a 5-minute video of a family at the beginning of their walk through IKEA, with their shopping list. At the end of their shopping trip, he takes another 5 minute-video of them with all the items they have purchased. Apparently the before-and-after videos show a very different picture... "they are a different family," John says, and they invariably end up with more items than they and intended to buy. But I shall leave him to share more about that.

What is most fascinating for me was the participants' role in the project as collaborators. Each individual (or family/couple, if they come together) is given an IKEA LACK table that had been turned into a map. They are to trace their journey through the store, marking an O where they stop and look at a sales item, and an X if they actually pick the item up for purchase. At the end of the trip they sign at the end of the 'drawing' they have created. 

Believe it or not, this white IKEA table is called a "LACK" table. How apt for a "lack map" as someone's trek through IKEA. Whose goods and store layout is geared towards pointing out more things that we certainly "need" in our house.

Anyway, I'm looking forward to seeing this project put together in an exhibition. Thanks for an intriguing day of living in IKEA, John!

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Installing Video Projector

So we have installed a video projector for the videos that we have been making. Will post pix in a few. We are being ably assisted by former IKEA employee The Shak AttaK. More to come.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Going Mobile

I have to leave for a few hours so we a making a new version of the Lil' Billy Mobile Research Lab. This will allow John to move around while I am away.

Tuesday morning

Tuesday morning. We have been given permission to set up a projector against a white wall between the store entrance and exit, where we'll be screening video portraits of Emma and the family in the previous post.

Mornings at the beginning of the week are very quiet here before things pick up around lunch.

More later. In the meantime, here is the description of the Lack Map that our participants are using to track their movements through the store.

It's Always 10 am in IKEA except when it's not

So today Johan did most of the posting b/c I did most of the talking, shooting, running, etc.  This project is kicking both of our asses, but it really has been amazing.  It's almost 4 am and I am about to get a little sleep before IKEA starts again but I just wanted to post some brief observations.

First Jeng Yi who assisted us yesterday sent us the Chinese characters for Billy Bookcase & Kyla designed our new patch which we are having made right now.  Thanks, Thanks and Thanks again.

Second we finally started making portraits! We almost need another week but tomorrow will have to do.  Our first participant Emma Wong spent more than an hour with us today and has volunteered to come back and work with us tomorrow so that we can get more than two portraits and "shop-drawings" done.  There is no internet in IKEA stores so we can't post any video really util the project is over.  But we have some amazing video to share.  On Wednesday we will go to NUS and get on the T1 line and post video till our the bits are in pieces.

I think that we are going to have a Breakdown/Takedown Party at IKEA Tampines tommorow night @ 8pm after we wrap up the shooting, we will need help with De-John/Johan-ing the apartment which is now filled with our family photographs and lots and lots of cable ties.

Well here are some photo and the new patch.  Good Night!  Also lost of stuff on Facebook too.


We have now pretty much transformed our apartment into a photo studio. In the bakground of the first image you can see Vincent--who is helping us today--working on the maps. We are going to choose a sample of 15 shoppers and each person or group will need one individually made map. In the second image you can see the backdrop for the first photo shoot.