A vending machine in Sydney invites people to think about mental health by dispensing consumables for the mind.
We have previously written about innovative art campaigns that raise awareness in a creative way. In Peru, a campaign used carbon dioxide from cars to reveal a billboard message and address public health issues. In Sweden, a billboard encouraged people to quit smoking by coughing each time it detected cigarette smoke. A recent art installation, presented by Art & About Sydney, addresses mental and emotional wellbeing through the form of an alternative vending machine.
The Intangible Goods installation took place between 26 March and 8 April 2018. It was created by artists Elizabeth Commandeur and Mark Starmach, in collaboration with mental health professionals. It featured a vending machine that distributed small activity packets to passers-by, creating a fun and interactive experience.
Vending machines provide fast access to small items in public spaces. Rather than snacks and sweet treats, the Intangible Goods vending machine handed out ‘consumables for the mind’. For example, notes, maps and pencils were among some of the available items in packets with labels such as ‘Bravery’, ‘Friendship’ and ‘Structure’. Each item had been selected for its connection with the mind, encouraging people to take time for their emotional needs. The installation therefore asked its public audience to think about consumerism and our psychological needs. It did so by imagining being able to access and purchase solutions for emotional needs with the same ease as we do our physical needs
To use the vending machine, a USD 1.50 fee applied. All profits are to be donated to the Schizophrenia Research Institute at NeuRA, as well as mental health organisations beyondblue and the Mental Health Association NSW (WayAhead). The Intangible Goods installation engages in a conversation about mental and emotional wellbeing through an interactive experience. How else can art installations address and promote medical and social topics?