Measure of Discontent: Sigh Collector (2011)

by Michael

A home monitoring system that measures and ‘collects’ sighs. The result is a physical visualization of the amount of sighing, for personal use in a domestic environment.

The project is in two parts. The first part is a stationary unit, which inflates a large red air bladder upon receiving the appropriate signal. The second part is a mobile unit, worn by the user, which monitors breathing (via a chest strap) and communicates a signal to the stationary unit wirelessly when a sigh is detected.

Full Description

Part of a series called “Measure of Discontent”, branching from my MFA work at UCLA’s department of Design and Media Arts. This work stems from the concept of measuring and representing anxiety. I was inspired by certain countries’ efforts to impose quantifiable values to the “happiness” of its people—Notably, the tradition of Gross National Happiness in Bhutan. Or even contemporary magazine articles that aim to report the worlds “happiest countries.”
It follows that if you can measure happiness than you can also measure unhappiness. Taking this as my point of departure, this work investigates the idea of quantifying the subjective—in this case, national anxiety.

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Artist Statement

Michael Kontopoulos is an artist and designer, interested in constructing mechanical systems and tools for exploring the poetics of everyday human behavior. Through invention, experimentation and iteration, his systems evoke metaphors about social relationships and the human condition, reflecting on habits both conscious and unconscious. Born in Philadelphia, Michael has lived and worked in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Los Angeles and has exhibited his work at various galleries, festivals and alternative spaces around the US, Asia and Europe.

He currently lives and works in Northeast Los Angeles, California.

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  • michael importico | 9 years, 4 months ago
    The ‘Sigh Collector’ is not only a stimulating idea and wonderfully
    appealing object, but your use of video transcends 'documentation' and is undoubtedly
    an integral component of the final piece; making this a very accessible, nearly
    universal work of art for our generation.  The comical, cinematic,
    commercial-like style of the video had me wanting to run down to the store to get
    my own ‘Sigh Collector.’  In addition, I found the playful, light hearted aesthetic
    of the object and video presentation to be delightfully juxtaposed against the
    serious nature of your backing concept of the ‘Measure of Discontent’; adding layers of meaning and intrigue to this work.  Thanks for sharing.
    -michael tristan
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