Instruction Sets for Strangers Part 2 | First Prototypes & User Testing


So for this part of the project, the goal was to create a prototype or prototypes of the intervention we wanted to achieve – in our case, getting people to “wake up” to the interaction they were having, and recognize that they are indeed touching a bull’s genitalia, albeit it’s importance as a statue and cultural landmark.

In order to achieve this, we made 3 different prototypes, each with a different goal.

1. Censored!

With this intervention, we sought to play upon the notion of censoring. Our prototype was informed by the pixelated censorship that is featured on TV, in movies, and on the internet. We took a picture of the bulls balls and used Illustrator to abstract them into big pixel squares. We printed this out and mounted it on a foam board, then attached dowels to use as handles. For the intervention, we jumped behind people censoring out the balls, then tried to encourage people to use the sign themselves. Both were unsuccessful, people got angry we were in the way and no one used the sign when we left it. We decided this wasn’t a good intervention for the space.

2. Gender Hack!

With this intervention, we wanted to challenge the notion of genitalia in public, especially the norm of male genitalia. While one could argue that statues feature male genitalia more prominently because well, it is actually prominent and extrudes from the body, making it much more visible in any pose, it is still bizarre that male genitalia is symbolized with good luck, and can cause people of all ages to laugh and be ridiculous when viewing it. How would they react to a vagina? So we built a vagina out of a tri-fold display board, half a foam ball, and lots of glue, construction paper, felt sheets and yarn (she will not be shaved!!!). We then tried to again jump in front of the bull’s balls with the vagina, hide under the bull and just hold it there, and also to leave it on the ground as a prop. This was only more successful in that we got a couple of pictures and people got talking. They got talking pretty angrily actually. Aside from being in the way of photos, people REALLY didn’t like us holding up a giant vagina in public. A better intervention, but we decided it still wasn’t really a good intervention.

3. Moooooo!

For this intervention, we wanted to try some scare tactics. For our third prototype we hid a small Bluetooth speaker behind the bull’s hoof (and tried holding it other places) so we could summon up a loud bull sound (Mooooo!) every time someone touched the balls. This was a quick trial as the speaker wasn’t anywhere near loud enough to get over the noise in Bowling Green, and even if people did hear it, they didn’t look down or weren’t startled at all. Maybe they thought it was part of the statue?!?! Either way we decided this wasn’t a good intervention


Check out our presentation below for images, videos, and more information about our first attempt at prototypes and interventions.

Lessons Learned

  • We can’t get in the way of the main interaction, which is taking photos with the balls, this will only serve to annoy people. The intervention can’t be purely subversive through interruption of the activity.
  • We need to enhance the interaction for people but pass along our message at the same time
  • There are many users from different cultures, countries, and who speak different languages. They are the main users group, even more than people who work in the area. We must be aware that they will have very different interpretations of what the bull means, so we need universal semiotics to get our point across best

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