We had a chance to meet an artist at the Continent exhibition in Brussels featured in this month’s Shift. Tuomo Tamenpaa is a Finnish designer artist who set up a huge advertisment in a corner of the room for a virtual product, Need.
Just behind a window displaying some packaging bearing the effigy of the make, a computer connected to website takes in the new participants’ registrations. The experience continues in town where the visitor is invited to look for collector cards broken up in different places by the artist and allowing him to go beyond higher levels on the web site.
Please, introduce yourself.
My name is Tuomo Tammenpaa. I’m a 31 year old Creative Director and media artist from Finland.
Can you explain in a few words what is Need?
Need is an artificial, simulated brand. It is a laboratory project for exploring brand building and product culture in western consumer society. It is a playground for me to manufacture wants by imitating, copying and remixing marketing models from the culture surrounding us. The Project is divided into three parts. There is a marketing campaign, a website and an exhibition.
How did you get the idea for this project?
The project started from exploration of artificial needs emerging in consumer culture. I was fascinated about the trend of the image marketing taking over the product it was promoting. I played with the idea of discarding the product away completely. The brand Need was created to explore this idea.
Until what point the interactivity can Need involve the “Customer”?
Need operates on seduction and curiosity. The customer is questioning if there is something more behind this camouflaged visual surface of plenitude. There are also different status levels in Need members club, so everything is not given at once. This need to visit the website again and again in order to gain more status is one driving force there.
The actual interactivity is very limited on purpose. I need this limitation for keeping the power and control clear between me and the customers. Due to my lack of resources to produce constantly new material, the customer involvement does not go very far, but still far enough to trigger some new thoughts in their heads.
Can Need become a real good of consummation?
The objective is to try if these marketing mechanisms work without the product. So there is actually nothing to consume. On the other hand, the collected information is a price for membership for instance, so some consuming has happened already. I have been so focused on redesigning this phase lately that the future is a bit unclear.
Still, testing the Need by making a real campaign with billboards and TV-spots would be the ultimate fulfillment of Need. But this is possible only if I sell the whole brand for the biggest Japanese consumer goods enterprise for instance 🙂
Tell us about your partners in Need and about Mindworks.
Need has been my personal project for three years. In this year the whole thing has been redesigned. For practical reasons our company Mindworks has been the production company for Need starting this year. I have had significant help from our programmer Tom Niemi in database design and the physical Installations are made together with my father Seppo Tammenpaa. Conceptually I have had indispensable support from my college media artist Heidi Tikka. Apart from that I have produced it all by myself from initiative concept to debugging the last flash script and assembling the installation.
Mindworks is a digital design production company based in Helsinki, Finland. We have an office in Barcelona and we are currently in process of starting operations in Central Europe. We make new media production with the next focus on streaming media. Recently we have started work on 3G mobile interfaces as well. We employ just over dozen multi-talented people together with a vast network of media professionals.
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