We invert Amy Lowell's minimalist poem, "A Lover" for participants who write a letter using a typewriter.
“If I could catch the green lantern of the firefly
I could see to write you a letter” (“A Lover,” Lowell).
We invite participants to several conversations: First, we suggest participants type a letter on our mid-twentieth century green Remington typewriter. Participants experience the smell of grass (infused into our roll of typewriter paper) and the flash of green fireflies, hanging from a mobile above the Remington. Using the typewriter prompts a microcontroller to actuate the “green lanterns” we created by folding LED lights into origami fireflies, strung in flight on a mobile. Research shows that nostalgia can be triggered by the senses. Given this, the two authors have positioned the installation so participants touch of the keys of the typewriter, hear the “click clack” of the keys, smell the summertime grass, and see the green glow of the fireflies.
Nostalgia is a “sentimental longing or wistful affection for the past.” In a sense, nostalgia invites a conversation with one’s past self. The second conversation happens outside of the installation, where participants can learn to fold origami fireflies while reflecting on the letter they typed (or, if they did not participate, consider the person to whom they may have addressed a letter) at the installation. During this activity, Dr. Drogos will talk with visitors about their experience with the installation to investigate how new media art can provoke nostalgia, and if that nostalgia is related to an increased sense of social-connectedness (Cheung et al., 2013).
The third and ongoing conversation is between the two authors, burrough, a media artist, and Drogos, a social scientist. The authors’ conversation meets at the intersection of psychology and participatory media art to explore the possible worlds that their own sensory input can trigger.