Catching the capital's mood

ON THE PULSE: Victoria University lecturer Sarah Elsie Baker, left, and artist Vanessa Crowe have an emotional readout of the capital through their Moodbank, open for the past two weeks.
ON THE PULSE: Victoria University lecturer Sarah Elsie Baker, left, and artist Vanessa Crowe have an emotional readout of the capital through their Moodbank, open for the past two weeks.

A rainbow of emotions has been deposited in Wellington's Moodbank, from the highs of falling in love to the lows of exhaustion and disappointment.

The art project, partially funded by Victoria University, ran for two weeks from a pop-up bank in the old ASB Bank space in Manners St. It was dreamed up by Victoria University lecturer Sarah Elsie Baker and artist Vanessa Crowe to gather data on how people are feeling via the bank, as well as a "mood machine" and website.

"We had been thinking about the unseen or unspoken emotions. They can be quite complex and connected, so we really wanted to explore that," Baker said.

Most popular was the anonymous deposit slip. More than 2000 people wrote in their moods – some one word, others a string of emotions – and drew visual representations. These slips were then stamped by a bank teller and the drawings posted on the wall to capture the collective feelings of the city.

"In the evenings, two women would come in every night after work to deposit their mood ... they found it really therapeutic to come in after work to get rid of all the stress."

As complex and personal as mood might be, the Moodbank was able to spot a few overarching trends, Baker said. "On St Patrick's Day, the mood seemed quite excited for a Monday – I was surprised.

"But then Tuesday's moods were really mixed. There were lots of hungover-type moods in the morning."

At first, Moodbank customers tended to be students, but by the end, it had caught on with professionals as well, Crowe said.

"I think people had heard and they were coming specially, or they'd walked past enough times they'd decided they were going to go in this time."

The final readings were taken on Saturday, but the "online Moodbanking" will continue.

Baker and Crowe said they would now analyse the two weeks of emotional data, from which they would create posters to put around the city.

Another, more tentative plan was to tour the project around the country.

The Dominion Post