Art project lets people converse with street furniture

Did you ever think you could have a conversation with a street light? Well the City of Austin is launching a new art project called "Hello Lamp Post" that will let you do just that.

The project launches today as a way to bring public art to all of Austin. Through texts, people bring these objects to life and become more aware of their surroundings.

The "Hello Lamp Post" project was commissioned by the City of Austin to celebrate the Art in Public Places Program's 30th birthday. It's partnering with Art Alliance Austin to bring the hidden life of Austin's street furniture to light.

Executive Director of Art Alliance Austin Asa Hursh says, "This project is public art that is defused and spread out across the entire city and it turns ordinary objects into public art and it gives us a chance to reexamine those objects."

Here's how it works.

You spot a lamp post, mail box or bench. Basically anything outside with a serial number.

You text a certain number (512-580-7373) saying "hello…(object)...the pound (#) sign and then the serial number."

In return you get some very engaging questions.

It'll ask you personal questions that relate to the object. For instance, lamp posts want to talk about light and dark and a post box might want to talk about correspondence or relationships.

Their reply will also include information from previous conversations.

The automated system is anonymous but it's a way to connect people across town.

The idea came from London-based designers Pan Studio. They really wanted "Hello Lamp Post" to create a sort of smart city where everything is wired and connected but they wanted to keep it playful.

Ben Barker, a designer with Pan Studios, says, "We want that kind of legacy where people are left thinking that was the post box that I talked to and that will always sort of stick with me and feel a bit weird and that's great."

The response has been positive and creators believe the unique project is a perfect fit for Austin.

The city hosts a big kick-off event today from 4-6 p.m. at Republic Square Park.

For more on the project, head to its website here.

Again, the number to text to interact with objects is 512-580-7373.

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