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January 18th, 2013

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Although the Minneapolis Convention Center draws visitors from throughout the region and country to its events, the center itself remains somewhat isolated from the rest of Minneapolis, surrounded by large parking facilities and a major interstate that pull us quickly from task to task and thing to thing. After a century of the automobile and decades of globalization, however, we are gradually rediscovering the utility of our feet and the importance of a local place. With MIMMI, the Minneapolis Interactive Macro-Mood Installation, we propose to create a public gathering space that helps visitors to the convention center and Minneapolis residents linger and walk, and get to know one another while they explore what the city has to offer.

Hovering at a height of 70 feet above wooden dunes that serve as benches, MIMMI is designed to be a large inflatable creature that acts as an emotional gateway to the city. MIMMI is able to sense the mood of the city and offers a fun and active mechanism to respond to this mood, allowing residents and visitors to experience the city in a whole new way.

MIMMI senses the mood of the city by scanning for keywords in social media feeds from Minneapolis. When the program senses increases in particular trending emotional words, MIMMI displays the collective emotion through graphics and colored displays projected on it. Emotions can include calmness, agitation, melancholy, happiness, and many others, which reflect the changing opinions of the city itself.

Visitors to the plaza can also interact with MIMMI directly, causing the colors and shape of the inflatable and its projections to change in real time. If the city is particularly sad or emotional for any particular reason, citizens can come together to lift MIMMI’s (and the city’s collective) spirit, as MIMMI is able to sense social activity underneath it. Whether the benches are being used or crowds are gathering under it and having a party, MIMMI gradually displays a calming behavior.

To make this possible, MIMMI will consist of a helium-inflated balloon of approximately 125 feet by 75 feet by 60 feet in size. This creates a large space underneath that can be shaded by the balloon, creating a comfortable microclimate for visitors. MIMMI will be created from durable plastic sheeting that can be repurposed for other uses after the installations deconstruction. MIMMI will also collect and reuse storm water to produce mist, which will create an appealing and cool microclimate for visitors during the hot summer days.

In proposing this project, we wish to construct a space in which people can gather to enjoy the company of others and experience the collective emotions of the city together. In addition to this, we also propose the development of an integrated app for computers and mobile devices, which will allow the city’s collective experiences over the summer to be gathered and shared online. By accessing this information, residents and visitors can see the city in an entirely new way, even learning suggestions about where to go for an enjoyable picnic or event, based on direct feedback from users.

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