The Bench, that Became Confused
Lotta Partanen

At times people are confusing and at times the things that people create can be confusing. Through this istallation I want to study the posibilities of interaction between the physical presence of a human being and a ridgid piece of furniture. It has been realised in professor Heidi Tikka's studyproject Affective Interactivities.


They call someone like me a luggage-kid. From the time that I was three and we were in Nigeria, all I can recall is the stench of the open-sewers. The smell of burning garbage appeals to my most basic senses, like the smell of freshly baked buns to others - I feel at home! Some denominators of my childhood surroundings were dictatorships infested by civil war, curfew, checkpoints and a home usually on the Airport road. Items such as ice cream, toilet paper and cheese were considered at times luxury that were obtained only from the black market or through connections.

Meanwhile there was the home in Espoo, Finland, where I always returned to the same class with the same classmates. In Africa the driver took me to school, the maid made up my bed and did my laundry, the cook prepared the meals, and the guard stayed awake while I slept. In Finland I walked to school, the bed was never made up, and my mother was too busy to make meals while my father was somewhere on the other side of the planet.

1. Context

Public space, such as a lobby, corridore, or some other passage or waiting space.

2. Idea behind the artwork and interactivity

When we meet new people, it is at times hard to predict how they will turn out to be in the long run. In the past I have met some characters, who at first, seemed quite balanced. Longer interaction with with them has, how ever, brought out the most intriguing inner conflict within them and eventually it appeared like they almost bordered on a split personality. I was interested in presenting the same kind of behavior in a outwardly fairly normal looking bench. For the functionality of this piece it is important that the bench attracts as little attention to itself as possible design wise.

The audio begins when an unsuspecting person seats himself. The young man tells a trilogy out of his life and the story goes on uninterrupted until the end, if the participant sits passively. If, however, the use of the bench is restless, if the one seated moves or the amount of sitters varies, it reflects to the flow of the story and the man starts to become confused. The more activity there is in the use of the sofa, the more the man's story is in contradiction with itself.
© Lotta Partanen